As challenging as it can be to handle discipline in the classroom, when you have the students under your direct control, it can be even more challenging to handle classroom behavior management that occurs at recess, in the lunchroom, in music, in library, or anywhere at school that is not under your direct control.
"No need to watch...we'll be good!"
But hold it...isn't that the responsibility of some other adult? The kids are under adult supervision of some sort every minute of the day...shouldn't the librarian or the recess aide deal with any infractions on their watch?
In a perfect world (and in a perfectly-functioning building), yes. Unfortunately, things don't always happen the way they are supposed to, and "outside" discipline issues spill into your classroom discipline plan. This can mean, for example:
As noted in teaching values, humans have a finely-tuned sense of fair play. You'll know about these incidents because the kids will tell you (whether you want to hear them or not).
Kids want someone to iron out these inequities, and they will turn to you, their reliable (and fair) classroom teacher for relief.
Isn't discipline in the classroom fun?!
First, why does it happen? Because it is easier for adults to ignore bad behavior than it is to:
Many, many people will choose the path of least resistance, especially when they don't have to pay the daily, long-term consequences of not dealing with behavior management. After their 15 minutes in the lunchroom, or 30 minutes at recess, or 50 minutes at music, they get to turn the problem back over to you and move on. All in all...easier to turn a blind eye or say "tell your classroom teacher about it."
So you have a choice to make. You can also ignore it, saying "I didn't see it," thereby opening up a loophole where poor behavior is allowed to continue because no one will force it to stop. Or you can address it in some manner, to at least show that such behavior won't be totally ignored, even if it doesn't get the full treatment like it would under your own classroom discipline plan.
When it comes to classroom behavior management, I favor the second choice, because allowing this little tear in the fabric of your classroom community can eventually cause it to come apart at the seams.
Let's be realistic - if Jona is allowed to tease Amber until she cries every day at recess, won't that negatively affect your classroom climate when both of them come into your room after recess an sit at the same table group? Your efforts at discipline in the classroom will not stand up to that kind of pressure.
NOTE: Your principal should be part of any solution, and should be the first person with whom you discuss your concerns. But if there is no effective help forthcoming, move forward with handling it.
Try to work with building staff - talk about behavior and gently offer suggestions such as:
"What works for Desmond is a reminder and a 30-second time out. He watches the clock independently now!"
Hold a discipline in the classroom meeting to discuss the expectations in unstructured areas. Kids may need time to vent a little at first (but keep it short). Ask the class to brainstorm ideas for how to solve the problems while proudly representing your class community.
Kids often come up with great ideas to work together in solving problems with is way more effective than a "royal decree" from the teacher.
For Example: My kids loved soccer but I had a consistent issue with them complaining about being roughed up on the field by kids from other classes...and the noon aide would do nothing about it (except direct them back to me). Their complaining took up several valuable minutes of instructional time every afternoon.
Playing rough is only fun for one person
I explained what they already knew: that I could not be outside during lunch. I asked them for solutions. In fairly short order, they all decided "go on strike" and boycott the soccer field for a week. This would make if difficult to get enough kids together for a game, giving them more power to demand less roughness whenever they decided to start playing again.
It wasn't a perfect plan, and it didn't work perfectly (some kids "crossed the picket line"), but it forced them to be accountable for some of their own problem solving. And it shifted the equation enough at recess that I stopped hearing so much about soccer issues every day.
Discipline in the classroom...sometimes the "classroom" includes the entire school!
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