With the new year starting up, whether we like it or not, all teachers will have to know what the discipline policy will be in the classroom. You MIGHT have a "honeymoon" period of 1-3 days at the very start where the true colors have not come out yet, but even that is not a guarantee as I have already heard stories of kids acting out from the first moment of the first day. I guess it is good because at least you know what you are in for. :)
Having a set public notice of the consequences (and rules as well) will ensure that all students will be aware of what happens if they choose to make poor choices. Also having a poster up of the rewards for those that choose to make the correct choices is a wonderful idea!
One thing I try to stress over and over throughout the year is that if a child needs a little redirection by the way of the discipline policy, he or she knows that it is because of the choices THEY made. Not just because Mrs. Preston is a big meanie and wants to pick on them. Sometimes that is hard for students to fully grasp, so a gentle reminder about WHAT really happened, and WHY we are looking to take extra steps is imperative. You cannot change the behavior if the student thinks it is because of the meanie that wears the school ID.
Many schools will already have a school-wide discipline policy in place for you, which can be great or not-so-great, but you don't really have a say, so whether it is liked or not, sticking to it will ensure consistency for students throughout the building, and not just from one class to another (because those students that want to stretch the rules WILL know which rooms they are more likely to get away with it in).
If you don't have a set of discipline rules, even sitting down with your students in the first week to create them helps your class to feel a sense of ownership over them and then they are never likely to say that they are "stupid" because they helped to create them to begin with. :) I usually start the conversation with setting our classroom rules, keeping them to no more than five. We brainstorm lots of ideas together and I write them down. Then, I group them together and maybe reword the most important four or five for the final version.
Then, I do the same for the discipline policy. Keep in mind that students will always be harder on themselves than you probably would even be, so make sure to allow them some say, but feel free to let them know you still have the final word. You may have to override them when they think they should get one full month (including Fridays) of after-school detention for not returning homework for one day. That MIGHT be a little over the top. lol!
Discipline can be such a hard thing to master in the classroom, but a super important tool for those new teachers. What kind of advice can the veterans readers share with those that are brand-new to the classroom this year? We would love to hear you sound off below!
I left a couple of freebies for you below to grab as well which might help. Just make sure when you get to the download page, you click on the Download button and not the image. Enjoy!