Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels,
each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels,
and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Down Time Can Lead to Discipline Problems

Beginning teachers often say they need to deal with discipline before they can focus on instruction. They quickly discover that if their instruction is busy and fast paced, many of the discipline problems disappear. Most discipline problems occur during down time—periods of time when students are not actively engaged in instruction, such as the start or end of class, during class changes, during lunch or recess, and during transitions between activities within your class. That’s why it is so important to keep your instruction moving at a rapid pace. Don’t go so fast you lose everyone, but keep it moving.

Jason Womack taught 50-minute high school classes. Each day the first task for students was to copy the schedule off the board. He organized his instruction around a theme for the day and always listed 5 to 12 activities. Typically, he scheduled 10, five-minute activities. He wanted students to see, hear, and touch something at least twice every day. In a typical day, they would “see something (watch me or data); hear about it (listen to me lecture or use the closed-eye process [tell 4–7 min. story with eyes closed]...touch some- thing (come back from wherever they went to [in their mind] and produce
something based on what they heard; draw, write it, make a video,...or a puppet show). My goal was to give them information and let them internalize and give it back; not just force-feed info and make them regurgitate it, but to give them an opportunity to internalize and express it.”

He also ensured that his students were constantly engaged in learning. Pacing is critical, as is keeping students engaged.  How can you improve what you are already doing to increase student engagement and keep discipline problems at bay?

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