“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them.” – I John 4:16 NIV
One of the fundamental premises of Cooperative Discipline (Dr. Linda Albert) is the understanding that children have 3 basic needs when they enter the classroom. Those basic needs are the need to feel capable, connected and contributing within the classroom environment. Since we know all students are not academically driven or sound I am challenged to consider how to make them feel capable in their academic performance and the more effective I am the more empowered academically my students will feel in my room. Since all students are not academically driven or sound what are some means by which they can experience positive connections within my classroom that will decrease motivation to misbehave? Understanding this, once a student feels they are making consistent positive contributions to the community of the classroom environment their desire to misbehave would decrease because of the positive contributions and positive feedback they receive consistently.
With this is mind, Coopeartive Discipline also illuminates the 3 means by which a classroom teacher manages a classroom. The 3 methods are identified as corrective, supportive and preventive. Corrective means what do I do normally when students misbehave? Supportive means what do I do normally to encourage appropriate behavior? Preventive asks what do I do to influence the ‘good’ children to continue to behave? Through my continued facilitation of Cooperative Discipline workshops I have discovered that we usually operate in one of these modes more often than the others and would help ourselves to incorporate the other 2 so we can be more balanced and effective in our classroom management approach. each of these methods is essential in effective management of a classroom. Exclusion of any would decrease one’s level of effectiveness in influencing as many students as possible consistently. I believe a successful classroom environment is where more students more often are managing their own behavior, even the acceptance of consequences for misconduct, instead of me having to hover over and be a drill sargeant in managing my classroom. Part of my effectiveness is also attributed to what I believe my students can achieve academically and in their conduct and how willing I am to hold them accountable to what I expect from them, as well as myself, to achieve the ideal environment as often as possible.
Dr. Linda Albert, founder and author of Cooperative Discipline, suggests that I must maintain the democratic premise that all students at all times have the ability to demonstrate appropriate conduct within the classroom environment. If I believe this than race, cultural differences, socio-economic circumstances, family background, intelligence level, or any other prejudices, or preconceived notions will not hinder my belief in my expectation of what I require of my students when they are in my classroom. My disposition towards them will be one of compassion and a sense of authoritative (not authoritarian) duty (firmness) to empower them to be responsible citizens within the classroom. In other words, consistent actions of love will influence long term better than any other means by which I seek to operate in managing my classroom and maintaining order.
May God help you and bless you with wisdom, patience and insight in how you can effectively work with challenging students with persistence and patience to increase your overall classroom influence to teach, influence and inspire learning.