Mindful Discipline Strategies

How many of you are using this type of discipline in your classroom?

Move your clip to red!

Seth gets 10 points for reading at home.

You have to stay in from recess because your homework isn’t done.

I like the way that Sara is sitting.

You made progress on your test so you get the ice cream party.

I definitely have used all of these strategies as a teacher, thinking this was the best way. Unfortunately, this way focuses on compliance, extrinsic reward,  public humiliation, manipulation, and most of all keeps our trauma and anxiety students in a constant state of ‘fight or flight’.

How can we do better for our students and help bring their brain to the learning-ready state that promotes optimal learning, achievement, and emotional regulation?

We can promote self-regulation, responsible decision-making, and positive goal setting.

Here are two simple (of many) ways to do this:

  1. Create a calm down corner in your classroom:

Poster used in a calm down corner 

Poster used in a calm down corner 

Using the Yoga Ed. Tools for Teachers curriculum to give students visual calming tools promotes self-regulation. When a student is feeling upset, angry, nervous, overly excited or any strong emotion they can go to a designated place in your classroom and use self-selected tools to bring themselves back to learning-ready.

Note: These tools are always done as a whole classroom first in order to promote co-regulation.

  1. Use a goal setting sheet for behavior as well as achievement:

You can find a variety of goal-setting sheets on teacherspayteachers.com but here is a favorite of mine that aligns with Class DojoSet goals with your whole class and specific goals for those students that need the extra behavior reminder.

Remember to make goals specific, measurable, and attainable. For example, if you have a student that has outbursts when they do not get their way you could set a goal that states: “When I feel angry, I will go to the calm down corner and use 1 tool to help me calm down.”

Now you have a reminder for this student. So when you see them about to burst, say “I see you’re feeling angry, what is your goal for when you feel angry?”

At the end of the week, meet with your students and give specific feedback on their goals. Ask them if they think they achieved their goal and why, and then give your feedback, “I saw you go to the calm down corner when you were angry 4 times this week.” “How did doing that make you feel?” “You has 1 outburst this week and it took away from your and others learning time. What could you have done instead?”

I remember first trying these modifications while getting rid of my clip chart and being terrified of letting go, but there are other strategies that can keep your students accountable for their actions. Likely you will find that throwing out your clip chart creates a positive and connected classroom climate and culture.  Not ready to give up the tracking tool? Class Dojo is a great positive alternative to behavior tracking.

That’s all I’ll say for today. We can go deeper into this subject at our next Tools for Teachers Workshop, or email me with questions or to ask for tips. I’ll post FAQ Answers in the comments.

Let’s take the risk, dare to change the way we educate our children, and share our experiences with others below.