Discipline is defined as the practice of teaching others to obey rules or norms by using punishment to correct unwanted behaviours.
In class, a teacher uses discipline to ensure routine is maintained, school rules are enforced and students are in a safe learning environment.
School discipline relates to the actions taken by a teacher or the school organisation towards a student (or group of students) when the student’s behaviour disrupts the ongoing educational activity, or breaks a rule created by the school. Discipline can guide the children’s behaviour or set limits to help them learn to take better care of themselves, other people and the world around them.
The rules may, for example, define the expected standards of school uniform, punctuality, social conduct, and work ethic. The term “discipline” is applied to punishment that is the consequence of breaking the rules. The aim of discipline is to set limits, restrict certain behaviours or attitudes that are seen as harmful or against school policies, educational norms, school traditions, etc.
Why is discipline essential and how does it impacts the learning process?
Creates a stress-free environment
One of the basic benefits of being disciplined is a stress-free life. It is very important to relax because our brain needs to detox and rest in order to function with optimal capacity. Through discipline, one can learn to apportion time to various activities, including rest.
Eliminates stress from student life
This is one of the most prominent impacts that discipline has on the learning process. It is important for every student to have a set routine to avoid the last-minute hustle. Discipline helps at maintaining and following the daily routine properly.
Helps Students Get Better Grades
This is the ultimate goal of every student’s life and it is very important for every student to be disciplined at all times. By being disciplined, a student will be able to spend more time studying. And the more time you spend studying, the better your grades become.
It Moulds Students’ Character
Another benefit of being disciplined is that it helps mould students’ character. And it’s hardly surprising because a positive attitude towards studies (and life) is the inherent benefit derived from being disciplined.
Enhances and encourages students’ motivation
There is no denying the fact that student life is not always easy. However, staying disciplined will keep your motivation fire burning and help students get the best out of education.
Sets a Good Example For Others to Follow
Positive classroom discipline sets a good example for others to follow. Disciplined and diligent students serve as role models for their classmates, but instead of secretly wishing to be like them, one should instill the same self-discipline in themself. That way, they’ll be able to catch up with them (or even surpass them) in no time at all!
Aiming for Discipline Instead of Punishment
Brain-aligned discipline isn’t compliance-driven or punitive—it’s about supporting students in creating sustainable changes in behavior.
Traditional punishment with these students only escalates power struggles and conflict cycles, breeding an increased stress response in the brain and body. Punishment is used to try to force compliance. The vast majority of school discipline procedures are forms of punishment that work best with the students who need them the least.
Discipline, unlike punishment, is proactive and begins before there are problems. It means seeing conflict as an opportunity to problem solve. Discipline provides guidance, focuses on prevention, enhances communication, models respect, and embraces natural consequences. It teaches fairness, responsibility, life skills, and problem solving.
There are times when students need to be removed from the classroom and school for aggressive, volatile actions, but upon re-entry we should make a
Pam Leo says, “A hurtful child is a hurt-filled child. Trying to change her behaviour with punishment is like trying to pull off only the top part of the weed. If we don’t get to the root, the hurtful behaviour pops up elsewhere.” In children the fear response often looks aggressive, defiant, and oppositional. Discipline can only be done when both the educator and the student are calm and self-regulated. If they aren’t, behavioural difficulties will escalate.
Preventive brain-aligned strategies
Preventive systems are taught as procedures and routines. They are collaborative and filled with choice. Their purpose is to create a sustainable behavioural change, not just compliance or obedience for a short period of time.
Teach students to understand what happens in their brains when they become stressed, angry, or anxious. When we understand this, we feel relieved and empowered.
During morning meetings or whole class time, identify and make lists of our emotional triggers and coping strategies, and teach students to use their breath and movement to calm their stress response systems.
Is there an adult in the school who connects with this student and has a space where the student can go if they need to regroup and calm their stress response systems?
Your school could create an area for both teachers and students to go to when they need to reset their emotional state. This area could be stocked with paper, markers, crayons, water, soft music and lighting, a jump rope, a stationary bike, lavender scented cotton balls, jars for affirmations or worries, or a rocking chair. Students will need to be taught ahead of time how to use this area, which they should need for just two to five minutes in order to feel refocused and ready to return to class.
Examples of natural, non-punitive consequences
Name-calling: Have the student create a book of positive affirmations for the class, or have them create a list of “kind words” and teach them to a younger class.
Low-level physical aggression (pushing, kicking, hitting): Some consequences could include giving the student a new learning space in the room or a new spot in line, or they could be tasked with performing an act of kindness or service for the hurt person.
If this occurs at recess, the student could be tasked with assisting a teacher on recess duty in monitoring the playground, noticing everything that is going well.
They can roam around the playground, still getting the exercise they need. Or again they could perform an act of kindness toward the student who they hit.
Inappropriate language: This calls for a discussion when both student and teacher are in a calm brain state.
Sometimes words that are inappropriate at school are used at home, so we need to understand the cultural context and have a discussion with the student.
An older student could research the words they used and report to you on why they’re not school words; younger students could try to write out what they were trying to convey using school-friendly language or drawings.
Incomplete assignments: Have a one-on-one discussion to convey what this behaviour communicates to you.
Ask if something has changed at home or school, or if the student doesn’t understand what is required. Make a plan with the student and possibly a parent for making up the work that has been missed. And consider assigning a student mentor to help the student.
Source: Lori Desaut