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discipline in the class. 
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Post discipline in the class.
this is a bit of a hard topic to discuss. I have found that this can be a ver difficult topic due to the wide variety of ways and issues revolving around it... But my question is does anyone here discipline their students and how do you do it??? In cases of either class disruption or nonparticipation???

For those teaching in Japan what about the whole kancho issue?


Mon Nov 19, 2007 10:09 am
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This is a 'can of worms' topic. Yes, rules exist and in a perfect world, rules are great. However, I often find myself in situations where I'm flirting with the line of what is acceptable.

As an ALT (assistant language teacher) in Japan, we are told that we are not supposed to discipline the children. However, in the absense of a good homeroom teacher (ie- a homeroom teacher that is too busy either taking pictures or simply grading papers in the back of the class), I've myself many times in a situation where a student is disrupting the class. So what do you do when you find yourself in these situations?

I've used all kinds of methods for bringing the class back into line and on the rare occasion. Unfortunately, I've even directly requested the teacher remove the student from the class. While this method is 'illegal' and quite harsh, it has always resulted in an apology from the 'bad' student, the homeroom teacher and usually the principal. I would not suggest this method to any other teacher but I've used this method as a last resort to control the class. In these situations, the homeroom teacher has always been unable to control their own classes.

The method of discipline that works extremely well, especially in Japan, is that old-fashion passive aggressive approach. Just abruptly stop the lesson, sit down and wait for the rest of the class to snap the distruptive students back into line. I would dare say this works about 95% of the time.

As far as the kancho (For people outside Japan, this is a rudimentary ritual where students form a pistol shooter with both of their hands and proceed to stick the muzzle of their gun up your behind. The first question you might ask is, WHY!?!? I still am trying to figure that question out.)

However, this is not an issue at an of my elementary schools because I cracked down on it really early. The first child who did it, I took them straight to their homeroom teacher and simply said, "No Kancho." This resulted in the teacher becoming extremely embarassed and giving a stern talking to the student, and resulted in the teachers telling their students that the ALT is not to be touched. While this method was quite straight to the point, I don't know any other culture that finds it social acceptable to ram their fingers up somebody else's behind.

That's my two cents...

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Mon Nov 19, 2007 11:47 am
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I have no problem approaching discipline as I would normally teaching at home. The thing for me is that wherever you are I believe that you need to work within the system that is there but also can`t accept behaviours that are to you unacceptable (even if their teacher does).

Things like:
Stopping and waiting for the behaviour to stop.
Giving them a `look`, but sometimes this is culturally misunderstood as a good thing!!
Using the child`s name mid sentence.
Explaing (in English) the way I want them to behave. They usually understand exactly what I mean!!
Moving around the room to stand by the child who is misbehaving.
With some noisy children using them as first volunteer immediately can work.

But
Often it is something in my control that needs to be changed and that is the lesson that I have planned. For the 5 first grade classes I take there are quite different needs in terms of planning. Some need to be a lot more structured than others, some need to be a lot more active, some need that activity to be in a small individual space interacting with no-one and others are better if we can move about interacting with others. Some enjoy writing/drawing more and get disruptive if we are always on the go.

I think it is also important to remember that kids are kids and their brains are developing. Frontal lobe growth which controls impulsivity develops slowly and often doesn`t fully develop till the late teens.

My two cents worth.


Mon Nov 19, 2007 2:31 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
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Location: Nagano, Japan
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Even though in Japan you are not allowed to enact a punishment system you can still discipline the students and you should; discipline in the form of teaching the students what is and isn't appropriate in class. Getting the students to comply can be a bit of a problem.

Simon's examples are pretty much what I do. Also, adjusting the lesson plan to fit the class is also a good idea. It's kind of like being the quarterback (play leader.) You have a general approach and target for the lesson. How you get the information across and get the students to learn can take many different forms, but in the end the results will be the same.

I also go in from day one letting the students know I am the teacher. With that, we can be friendly, have fun, and enjoy the class, BUT I'm not one of them. In Japan, and other places as well I assume, teachers are trying to be friends with the students and that's where you might get students invading your private space and crossing teacher student boundaries. It's often difficult to make that distiction especially when you might need to get close to a problem child to really help them...

I'm not a dictator. Most of the students think I'm really nice :) but they do know I don't take much messing around. I have a decent rapport with the students and often just a look or few words of disappointment (or praise for that matter) make a big difference.

Also, be consistant. Don't allow something just this one time. Don't let a 'good' student get away with something. AND no matter how funny Timmy's tushy dance might actually be, don't laugh. :D

A good incentives program is helpful, even if that incentive is just a fun game at the end of class.

And that's a bit of rambling from me...

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Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:45 pm
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I have a few techniques that I generally use. There are different techniques for different ages, but the idea behind it is the same.

I use "class responsibility" as the guide for my discipline.

On the first day, I clearly explain the rules in my class. I make it clear to my students that part of my culture means that when I am talking, they are not. It is very rude for them to do this. Then I explain what happens:

For middle school: At the start of the class, I write the number 10 on the board. Students progressively lose points for talking, not participating, and not listening when I am explaining something.
If the score reaches '0', the next class will not contain any game-type activity.
I have had great results with this, and no longer have to discipline the class as they discipline themselves. Students then behave themselves or they will have to face the wrath of their peers after class.

For Elementary students, I have the same 10 points at the start of the lesson, but they can also "earn" smiley faces for their group for answering questions, winning games and good behaviour, etc. I take points off them, but not smileys. At the end of the semester, the group that has the most points wins a prize.

I have found that as long as I keep to the rules, the students know their boundaries and respect them. I have no problems with discipline in my classes since I started using this system.

Best of luck,

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Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:09 pm
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10 chalkboard point system is a great idea! I've heard of this technique before but completely forgot about it. It gave me an idea. I'll explain later when I've worked it in the classroom.

Nice idea, Chocoholic!

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Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:41 pm
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patrick wrote:
10 chalkboard point system is a great idea! I've heard of this technique before but completely forgot about it. It gave me an idea. I'll explain later when I've worked it in the classroom.

Nice idea, Chocoholic!


Ill have to agree, Im going to try that out.

Also, one way I punish them, is extra Phonics lessons. I go through A-Z as slow and boring as possible. Also, If Im trying to explain something and they are talking, I just sit there. If overall it takes time from the class to play the end of class game, sobeit. This is pertaining to students form K-6.


Wed Nov 21, 2007 2:38 pm
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I am not a big fan of negative systems where points are only removed. I think it is very important to give all children the chance to change and earn positive points.

I have read plenty of research about various techniques and from this have changed my own teaching practice to positive language and actions. My main thing is that I wanted to make sure that I was really emphasising the positive behaviours.


Thu Nov 22, 2007 12:24 pm
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Sometimes it is just a problem to initially get the students attention. If this is the case, I teach a chant that the students have to finish. This means that they are all listening.

For Example:
T: One Two Three
S: It's a tree
T: Four five six seven
S: I want to go to heaven


It does mean there is a lull in the conversation and all the students are paying attention to you.

Simon - I do agree with positive reinforcement, but there are times when it just doesn't work. Students also need to learn about actions and consequences. These days there is so much emphasis on students getting positive reinforcement, that when they get into the workplace, they are unable to cope with criticism that is given to them. The 10 point system is only related to the noise level and attention in the class. The 'smileys' they earn for effort etc are not able to be taken away, and as such are the positive reinforcement for language learnt and effort put in to my classes.

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Thu Nov 22, 2007 2:45 pm
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I think there is a fine line between pushishment and positive reinforcement and walking that line requires a great deal of skill balancing on that wire. Just make sure that if you fall off that wire you land on the positive reinforcement side of the fence. ;-)



In other news, I recently rose in the ranks to 'MES-Zealot!'

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Thu Nov 22, 2007 4:08 pm
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patrick wrote:
In other news, I recently rose in the ranks to 'MES-Zealot!'


Congratulations! It is not easy to get so many posts on a forum, especially for those who do not find it easy to write responses, or are less experienced. Thanks for all your comments and suggestions, they have been very helpful.

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Mon Nov 26, 2007 4:23 pm
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Wow the ten point systems sounds interesting... I'll have to try that.... I generally use the old rolled up newspaper (no joking). I lightly tap the students on the head.. they laugh and then get quiet.. Or I'll use the stop and look at with either a very scary face or a silly face...
I have yelled at students and given them the very very scary face... The kid in question got the message... I treat my students like I treat my own kids, minus the spanking, when they are bad. :mrgreen:


Wed Nov 28, 2007 2:32 pm
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Another system that I have hard used, is to use the Yellow Card, Red Card system. Based on the football rules, if you get 2 yellows and a red, you then get a punishment. This works especially well in boys schools here in south korea. The punishment (or consequence) can be anything you like, as long as you are consistent, students know what the rules are.

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Thu Dec 06, 2007 1:37 pm
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I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is that the A in ALT stands for 'Assistant.' It's not our classroom, we're just there to help. Even when the teacher makes us do all the teaching, it's still her class.

Thus, the teacher is the one that should be doing the discipline. If she's fine with a rowdy class full of kids that won't participate, it's her class. I know how frustrating it can be to have to look at 40 kids that don't seem to give a damn about what you have to say, but it's not our place to put them in their place.

They spend most of their time with these teachers, and if you gain a reputation as the Mean Foreigner with even one kid, they'll let the others know, and your effectiveness is gone.

I use a number of different methods for trying to calm down a class, from simply shouting over them to the Rain method (trust me, try it in Elementary schools) but my best results have come from speaking to the teacher. They may assume that you like the craziness (as odd as that sounds) and are trying to not get in your way.

Just my 2 yen.


Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:17 am
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So, I used the 10 point thing.

For my 1st/2nd graders, they get 10 points (2nd graders need all the points they can get ).

3rd/4th get 7, and 5/6th get 5.

After doing it for one week (and having 2 or 3 classes getting to 0), Ive noticed a huge difference. They really like my games, and dont like to lose it. That, and the wrath of their teacher if they reach 0 is enough to get them in line basically.

I had my most crazy class get to 0 and the teacher basically threatened them to have no English classes the rest of the year. Since they find it fun, and a break from tedious learning, they are one of my better classes now.


Wed Dec 12, 2007 10:28 am
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