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Students’ behaviors are learned, and each one serves a purpose which is getting a teacher’s attention, for instance or expressing emotions. Managing those not-so-positive behaviors can be quite a challenge, but it also presents educators with a golden opportunity to teach students positive, pro-social, problem-solving actions.


According to the Center for Disease Control, some 13 to 20 percent of U.S. children have mental disorders. A positive, supportive approach to school discipline can not only improve experiences for these students but also sustain all students in the learning community.


Create a Community


Relationships matter. Students need to feel a sense of community within the classroom and their school. One way to accomplish this is by holding regular community meetings in the classroom. Those meetings, usually conducted in a group circle, allow students and teachers the opportunity to go over the events of the day, share feelings, and problem-solve through an ongoing dialogue.


Provide Consistency


All students need consistency. They must understand the rules of the class and the building in order to monitor their own behavior and choices. Teachers need to consistently enforce rules for all students to establish clear expectations.


When identifying classroom rules, teachers consider allowing students to help create three to five nonnegotiable expectations for the group and then follow up by asking students to justify the importance of the rules they create and the positive implications the rules will have on their learning.


Expect and Plan for Breaks


At some point in the school day, students with challenging behavior can become noncompliant and refuse to follow the rules, even after several reminders. When this occurs, the student may simply need time to regroup. Teachers should create an area in the classroom where students can go to gather their thoughts and take some calming breaths. This can be a desk or a table in a quiet part of the room. When the student feels able, he or she can return to his or her regular seat and begin participating with the class or small group.