Classroom Management and Discipline/Post-incident Processing

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While this is the last step of any behavior/consequence chain involving a student, it is the most often skipped.

While any adult may be tempted to personalize student misbehavior as a slight against them or their authority, students are far more likely to personalize the discipline they receive and conclude that you don't like them, or that you think they are a bad child. You know why it is necessary to respond swiftly and certainly to disruption from students. All that the student knows is how your reaction made them feel (even more angry, embarrassed, or misunderstood than they were before).

Post-incident processing, whether it be before/after class, or in a private room during the day, is an important step in the disciplinary process because it might restore the student/teacher relationship to the point it was before the incident, and at best, increases the mutual trust and understanding. It should not be done immediately following problem behavior. Some students crave teacher attention, and if you think about it, post incident processing might be the longest most undivided time a student could get with you. You want to make sure that the student can get time with you for good behavior, not misbehavior! What follows is what is typically done in schools following problem behavior. It is helpful in many cases but may be disastrous in other cases... Keep in mind, every student is different...

Processing Scenario[edit]

Mr. Read: I understand from talking to Mrs. Beale that you were up late last night.

Daniel: (no response)

Mr. Read: I can see that you're still angry with me. Did I upset you when I sent you to the time out desk?

Daniel: Yes.

Mr. Read: Why did I send you there?

Daniel: Because I was yelling at you.

Mr. Read: Mm hmm. Well, Daniel, it's okay if you're still mad at me, but I'm not mad at you. I think you're a great kid. I understand that you were up late last night, but I still need to discipline kids who yell. If I didn't, what do you think might happen to our classroom?

Daniel: Everyone would yell.

Mr. Read: You're completely right. So how can we avoid having this happen again tomorrow?

Daniel: I can go to bed sooner.

Mr. Read: That's a good idea. And what if you come to school and feel angry again someday?

Daniel: I could talk to Mrs. Beale.

Mr. Read: Yes you could. You could even write me a note if you'd like, or ask to talk to me in the hall.

Notes
  • The adult does not apologize (nor ask for an apology).
  • The adult does not demand responses from the child, but asks questions likely to elicit responses.
  • The adult communicates unconditional acceptance of the child, despite the incident.
  • The adult lets the child describe his understanding of what happened, why, and how it can be avoided in the future.
Benefits of this approach
  • It reduces the chance of grudges being held by the child or the adult.
  • The child feels both listened-to and understood, not lectured to.
  • The child takes responsibility for their behavior by having to explain why the adult responded with discipline.
  • An improved relationship and/or an action plan for future problems is established.