The first step in implementing a positive discipline approach is to create a classroom
environment that is conducive to positive discipline. Effective classroom management can help to create an environment and space that is conducive to a positive discipline approach. It also makes teaching easier and less stressful. There are several things that educators can do to manage classrooms more effectively:
• Establish ground rules.
Set class rules with learners at the beginning of the year. These can be re-evaluated at the
beginning of each new term. Make sure that everybody understands the logic behind each rule.
Put the rules where they can be seen or give each learner a copy. You could even turn them into an agreement, by asking each learner to sign a copy.
• Be serious and consistent about the implementation of the rules.
The rules should apply equally to everybody in the class. Be fair. This is critical in creating a
relationship of trust between educators and the learners. Make sure that any disciplinary action is carried out firmly and consistently but fairly.
Focus on relationship building.
Create opportunities to talk and listen, so that you get to know each child. Children who feel
valued will not need to seek attention as often. Build a relationship in which learners feel
respected, understood and recognized for who they are. Lay the foundation for open
• Be professional.
Be on time. Arrive 10 minutes early for a class so that you have time to make sure everything is as you want it. Prepare thoroughly for each class. Anticipate that some learners will finish before others and have something for them to do. Be self-critical: if something does not work, consider all the reasons why, including that you may be at fault, and identify how to do better next time.
• Learning materials and approach.
Make sure that the work is relevant to the learners. Include things like conflict management,
problem solving and tolerance in your learning materials, as well as in the way in which the
classroom is managed. Provide opportunities for learners to practice their skills.
Build a cooperative learning environment in which learners learn how to work together.
• Be inclusive.
Talk to and involve every child. Use materials, pictures, language, music, posters, magazines that reflect the diversity of the class so that no learner feels left out. Create opportunities to discuss, acknowledge and value the differences among learners including their culture, language, religion, gender and age. Encourage them to listen to and respect other points of view.
• Give learners the opportunity to succeed.
Learners who feel positive about themselves and their ability to succeed learn and behave better.
Schools sometimes do things that can discourage children without realizing it. For example, only acknowledging those learners who get very high marks can discourage less academically successful learners who try hard but do not achieve top marks. It is important to reward children when they have worked to the best of their ability, rather than focuses on their success relative to others. Take steps to avoid favouritism and celebrate a broad range of student achievement.
• Allow learners to take responsibility.
Involve children. When children are involved in making the rules, they are more likely to follow them and to take responsibility for their actions. Provide space for learners to be responsible.