Most teachers believe discipline in the classroom begins at the students’ homes, which may be true in some respect. However, the teachers with the most control in their classrooms accept the fact discipline begins as soon as a student walks into the school.

Nearly every parent, fortunately or unfortunately, expect classroom teachers to maintain control of their students. Each student sent to a classroom, “good” and “bad” students, is the responsibility of the classroom teacher at any given moment of the day. It is time to stop debating the fact of whose responsibility it is for a child’s discipline. When the kids arrive, it is the school and individual teacher’s responsibility. Period.

Why do some teachers seem to rarely have discipline problems with groups of students, but move the same groups to another classroom, the kids become unruly? Do you actually believe kids say to themselves or to each other, “It’s time to misbehave in Mr. Jones’ class?” Of course not. Students’ behavior most often is the result of the effectiveness of a teacher in creating an environment conducive to learning. The students are engaged and there is little motivation to cause a disruption.

In addition to the engaged classroom, the same teacher is well-organized, has well-planned lessons, and allows little down time to take place. All of this and more is a part of something called “preventive discipline.” Preventive discipline is a technique that stops or thwarts problems or issues from ever taking place, and those that do, immediately lose steam and do not snowball into something that leads to a lack of control in the classroom.

Nearly every teacher plans what they will do for a 45-minute class period with respect to classroom discussions, assignments, homework, etc. However, many teachers seem unprepared when an event occurs that brings a bit of chaos or disorder to a school day. Using preventive discipline techniques are the plans teachers need in the area of classroom control.

The techniques are not the same as those you used to plan a lesson the previous evening. But they do require foreseeing something before it happens. For example, kids on the playground will inevitably argue at times or even fight. Every problem cannot be stopped. But why allow a problem on the playground to move into your classroom? Instead, become aware of that problem, listen to what the kids are saying about it, and prevent it from gaining steam. You do this by remaining calm and speaking to your students in a normal tone of voice. It may have been a serious issue on the playground, but it is time to return to an engaged classroom. Your attitude and actions convey this to the students. Your words and demeanor prevent an out-of-control classroom. It is preventive discipline.

Preventive discipline requires a teacher to be aware of their students, their emotions, behaviors, and how they normally act in certain situations before they arise. Getting to know what makes your students tick is all part of preventive discipline. Every day will not be perfect; there will be curves, but trying to play catch up or coming into school frazzled yourself will not make a situation you are faced with any better. Those are openings kids will use to their advantage, often leading to disruptions or worse.

Do not ignore incidents that may affect classroom cohesion. A conflict between two students in the classroom may lead to others taking sides. The conflict will most often be obvious to you, but do not allow it to infect the rest of the class. Having a chat with the two students as soon as possible will prevent other problems in the room.

Preventive discipline techniques are not difficult to use. They do, however, require teachers to remain focused not just on teaching, but also on the emotions and behaviors of their students. At the very least you must care and accept the responsibility that effective discipline in the classroom is your responsibility.

Do not blame the parents or use a child’s upbringing or home life as an excuse. Sending students to the principal, taking away recess, detentions, writing extra essays, or other restrictions are not necessary when using preventive discipline techniques. Remember, there are many students who are well-behaved simply because of the atmosphere the teacher has created in his or her classroom.

Thinking ahead before something happens, being well-organized with daily plans, remaining focused, and keeping your students engaged are all aspects of, and leads to, effective discipline in the classroom.