Weeks 9 & 10: Discipline Theories

Topic: Discipline Theories

For the past few weeks our class has been analyzing discipline methods and considering when and where application may be most effective. I find myself reflecting back to my own experience as a student and what methods most encouraged productive behaviors and ultimately allowing more time for learning experiences. I can pinpoint certain teacher behaviors that I was naturally more receptive and responsive towards. As a result of my own personal schooling experiences I came into this program confident that I would model the behaviors my ‘favorite’ teachers showed me. However, more then half way through this semester I find myself realizing what worked for me will NOT work for all and this means I will have to consider strategies and behaviors I never would have thought twice about. Now, you may be thinking wait a minute..I thought we were going to hear about discipline theories?! Don’t worry you will but the biggest takeaway or “light bulb” moment was what I realized during the strategically designed lesson of the discipline methods.

During a two day analysis of Canter’s Assertive Discipline method and Albert’s Cooperative Discipline method our professor strategically planned an activity that taught me more then just the methods. On the first day we broke down Lee and Marlene Canter’s theory of Assertive Discipline. We were given two graphic organizers to choose from and then in a pair-and-share we filled in the blanks. I was unfamiliar with both of these organizers but one appealed to me more then the other and I selected it and finished applying the information into it. (See below)

Fish Design - Canter's Discipline Theory

Fish Design – Canter’s Discipline Theory

Then, on day two we were thrown a curve ball. On the back side of our initial graphic organizer we were instructed to do the same thing for Albert’s Cooperative Discipline Theory (see below) only we had to use the organizer that we had not selected the prior week. While I can’t speak for everyone I did hear plenty of groans and moans about why we had to use the second organizer.

Albert's Cooperative Discipline - Graphic Organizer

Albert’s Cooperative Discipline – Graphic Organizer

Once time was up for the assignment our professor explained her intentions of the assignment. By forcing us to use the graphic organizer we had likely not preferred, we were reminded of how important it is for teachers not to stifle their students learning and creativity by forcing upon them one method that works well for some but NOT all. Another irony was in hearing the class discuss why they choose one method or another. It seems to have all boiled down to how they visualized the information and processed it in one graphic organizer over the other. Some felt option one was too confusing and the others thought the same of the second. Bottom line this is one of those lessons that I felt the weight of personally and therefore I’ll remember it and be more cautious of the tools I supply my students in the future.

Earlier this semester I read a principle of classroom management by Levin & Nolan (2014) that states, “For effective teaching to take place, teachers must be competent in influencing appropriate student behavior…” (P.  19). When I first read this I felt very much competent I would easily achieve this level of student respect and subsequent appropriate behavior. Today, I still feel competent I will achieve this but now I’m learning so many more views and approaches that I almost want to laugh at how confident I was in the beginning.

This ties back in to my realization that I may have a classroom of students who won’t be responsive to the same methods and strategies that I felt so strongly about. Of course I’ve known as human beings we are all different and have unique needs but I still had not flipped the switch in my head that allowed me to really apply the concept. Luckily, I do now!

It is my understanding that we will be tying in another discipline method next week so I will wait until then until I share which method or mixture of methods I will attempt in my classroom. I will also include a bullet point comparison of these theories as bullet points have always helped me cognitively organize ideas. I wonder..what kind of disciplinarian I will be in the classroom? I look forward to getting this question answered over the next few weeks. Of course…no matter what stance I take in this pre-service level I know it will all boil down to the school I’m in and the students I have but I’m still looking forward to building a strong foundation of what kind of teacher I’ll be!

Until next week,


Charles, C. M. (2002). Linda Albert’s ‘Cooperative Discipline’. In Building classroom discipline. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Levin, J. & Nolan, J. F. (2014). Principles of classroom management: A professional decision-making model, (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Wolfgang, C. H. (1995). Solving discipline problems: Methods and models for today’s teachers, (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.


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