Classroom s trategies

To maintain a safe and orderly classroom conducive to teaching and learning, a teacher must set forth both academic and behavioral expectations for all students. In addition to schoolwide codes, each teacher must articulate to students on the first day of class the basic standards of behavior for the class. Additional standards may be developed with input from the students to reinforce their commitment to the standards.

Behavior Standards

The classroom behavior standards should comply with the school’s code, but they need not be as detailed. As a matter of fact, the fewer the better. The standards should be given to the students in writing and should be posted in the classroom. They should be clearly stated and understood by all students in the class. Also, a copy of the standards should be sent home to parents.

Teachers are responsible for establishing and maintaining the climate in the classroom and for managing the students. It is very important for them to establish control on the first day of school and maintain it steadily thereafter. Students are perceptive and become quickly aware of teachers who are “not in control” of their classrooms. Being in control does not mean being rigid or being a “tyrant”; it means asserting authority and demanding and getting respect.

Teachers also must ensure that the behavior standards are followed, and they must do so in a manner that is fair, but firm and consistent. Students who fail to comply with the discipline standards must be dealt with quickly and firmly. Constantly changing the rules or extending the list will simply cause confusion. Failure to enforce them will result in the students’ ignoring or constantly breaking them; it will lead to chaos.

Academic Expectations

Equally important, and often a factor ignored in discussions about discipline and violence in schools, is the academic side of the issue. Again, it is the responsibility of the teacher to establish the ethos in the classroom regarding academic expectations. The objectives for each lesson, and each unit, should be clearly articulated to the students prior to teaching it. Preferably, these objectives should be in writing, either on the chalkboard or on paper given to the students. They should be explained to the class along with an explanation of the teaching and learning activities to be used to achieve them.

Classrooms where the academic objectives are unclear are fertile for disruptive student behavior, and, perhaps, violence. This does not mean that every student should be seated quietly at a desk with a book open or busy filling in the blanks on a form. It does mean that the lessons have been carefully planned to elicit maximum teaching and learning. It means students are actively engaged in learning activities—sometimes in groups, at other times working alone, and later as a full class. It means using strategies to ensure that students comprehend what is being taught and are able to demonstrate their understanding of the coursework. It means insisting that all students strive to meet the academic as well as behavioral standards for the class and assisting those who have difficulty doing so.

Teachers know that disruptive or violent behavior in the classroom is a way for some students to mask their frustration and anger over their academic deficiencies. The fact that all students are not alike and do not acquire knowledge the same way must be reflected in the teacher’s method of instruction. Applied strategies of effective teaching, along with lesson plans that respond to students’ cultural diversity and learning styles, can significantly reduce instances of potentially disruptive or violent behavior.

    ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education Box 40, Teachers College Columbia University New York, New York 10027 212/678-3433 800/601-4868 212/678-4012 (Fax) Director: Erwin Flaxman Associate Director: Larry R. Yates Managing Editor: Wendy Schwartz This publication was produced by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, United States Department of Education, under contract number RR93002016, and from Teachers College, Columbia University. The opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the position or policies of OERI or the Department of Education. Preventing Violence in Schools Gang Activity at School: Prevention Strategies School Violence and the Legal Rights of Students: Selected Issues

Strategies for i ndividual students

Thus far, this chapter has focused on violence in schools and strategies for addressing the problem from a classroom or schoolwide perspective. However, it is also important to focus on individual students in order to prevent them from becoming chronically disruptive or violent. The following strategies are designed to encourage students to focus on discipline as a positive means of behavior.

Tutors and Mentors

The discussion above cited lack of parental supervision at home as one of the factors contributing to student violence. With the absence of a “significant adult” in their lives, many students lack the nurturing that comes from parental support and guidance. Some school communities seek to fill this void by establishing tutoring programs and providing mentors for students. The mentors are community volunteers from business, service organizations, colleges and universities, churches, and retiree organizations. They have made a significant difference in the lives of many young people.

Employment

Some schools and communities have made efforts to reduce the number of property crimes by providing part-time employment for students during the school year and full-time employment during the summer months. The goals of these work programs include building self-esteem and a sense of responsibility, and learning the value of money and the importance of getting a good education and staying in school until graduation (Kuhn, 1990).

Youth Collaboratives

With encouragement and financial support for pilot programs from the National Alliance of Business and the Ford Foundation, several urban school districts have organized “youth collaboratives.” These collaboratives, also known as “The Compact Project,” began with the Boston Compact and have extended to over a dozen large urban school districts. Focusing initially on school dropout prevention and the preparation of youth for the work force, they were among the early proponents of the need to provide coordinated services for youth and families. With the support of the business community, school districts seek to address the needs of students at risk of educational failure through the combined efforts of the city government, health, law enforcement, education, and social service agencies, and the religious community (National Alliance of Business, 1989).

LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS

Some would say that the best way to address the issue of violence in schools is to simply get tougher with the perpetrators. Others say that the solution must be to instill better moral values, for children are suffering from ethical confusion and media pollution. Still others would say that the solution is to attack violence at its roots through a variety of efforts, such as providing parents with training in parenting skills, providing the whole family with social and economic supports and training in nonviolent conflict resolution, and providing children with a strong sense of right and wrong and a safe community in which to develop. Taken alone, each solution is too simplistic. Taken together, the three options make a strong program for stemming youth violence in schools and in communities.

Recognizing and accepting the need for change are critical steps toward any efforts to reduce violence in schools. Change is a process that requires a sustained commitment from those desiring it—individuals, families, schools, and communities. Working to increase discipline, order, and safety in schools requires all parties to examine the attitudes, behaviors, and values that define them.

Finally, but most importantly, youths themselves must learn that they are responsible for their personal behavior and actions and that they are personally accountable for what they do in school and in the community.

EARLY I NTERVENTION

It is at the formative level of a child’s life (until approximately year nine) that families and communities must inculcate positive attitudes and modes of behavior. Therefore, at the prekindergarten through fourth grade levels school districts should implement counseling programs, role modeling and mentoring, and antiviolence and safety programs for students. This agenda must also include developing respect for oneself and others. Forums should be provided, for example, where students can discuss sensitive issues related to racism, poverty, sexism, religion, and violence.

In addition, conflict resolution programs should be integrated into the school’s curriculum and participation should be required for all students. These programs should be introduced early and resources should be committed to sustain them at all levels of the school system. Such programs should also be accessible to parents who wish to participate in them.

DISTRICTWIDE D ISCIPLINE C ODES

Every school district should have a clearly defined discipline code that is communicated to students and their parents each year. A major focus of it should be understanding discipline as a positive rather than a negative sense of being. The emphasis must be on prevention as well as intervention. Equally important, the discipline code should be enforced consistently, firmly, and fairly.

It is also critical for teachers, parents, and members of student services programs to work together to help schools and communities address the issue of increased youth violence. School psychologists, counselors, nurses, social workers, speech-language pathologists, and all other student services personnel must be part of the violence prevention decision-making process. Further, schools should maintain a liaison with local police authorities since some acts of violence in schools are a spillover from disputes that originate in the community.

HEALTH AND S OCIAL S ERVICES

Students experiencing emotional, psychological, or physical problems that interfere with learning should have access to the educational, therapeutic, counseling, and diagnostic services to correct those problems.

Parents who need support and training to be better parents should have access to programs that provide it. It is particularly important where there is evidence of child abuse or neglect. These programs are also important for families with nonexistent or poor communication between parents and their children.

Children with disabilities should be provided with the special education and related services that they need—not just because it is the law, but because it is the right thing to do.

    ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education Box 40, Teachers College Columbia University New York, New York 10027 212/678-3433 800/601-4868 212/678-4012 (Fax) Director: Erwin Flaxman Associate Director: Larry R. Yates Managing Editor: Wendy Schwartz This publication was produced by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, United States Department of Education, under contract number RR93002016, and from Teachers College, Columbia University. The opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the position or policies of OERI or the Department of Education. Preventing Violence in Schools Gang Activity at School: Prevention Strategies School Violence and the Legal Rights of Students: Selected Issues



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