It is very clear that discipline problems abound in the elementary schools. The problems often result in a disruption of learning activities in the classrooms making it impossible for learning to take place. Since it is difficult for meaningful learning to take place when there is a disruption, teachers then spend a lot of time on resolving such disturbances, thus leaving lesser time for actual learning to take place. Because of this fact, there is growing concern on ways of reducing the incidence of student disruptions in classrooms. This concern is not only among teachers but also expressed by the general public.
It is true that it will be difficult for teachers to adopt some prescribed ways of handling disturbance. One is caused by the fact that such prescriptions are not a result of real classroom scenarios but laboratories. "Teachers have been hesitant about incorporating suggestions which have been given by psychologists in their classrooms. Many times these suggestions are a result of laboratory studies instead of true classroom situations" (Usova, p1).
In many studies, it has been suggested to teachers to use a reward and ignore system. In this system, good conduct is rewarded by the teachers and disruptive behaviour is ignored. Ignoring a disruptive behaviour will be because the magnitude of the behaviour is not so significant. Misbehaviour of a high proportion will obviously elicit the proper sanction from the teacher. The kind of sanction as prescribed by various researchers, for effectiveness, will however be specific to a student. Not all student misbehaviour can be corrected by the reward and ignore system for instance. “The RAID system is a more effective approach with children who have poor self-concepts” (Usova, p1). The reward system particularly helps students who have a low value of themselves to build up their self-esteem. It is thus important that teachers study their classroom environment and in particular each student to know which method will be most suitable to correct a student that misbehaves in school.
The competence of teachers also determines how the students act or react in class. When teachers are more organised, knowledgeable and well prepared for a class, it is easier for students to be attentive and participate actively in the class. If on the other hand the teacher is not competent, students when bored and uninterested may seek other forms of activities that will be more interesting to them.
A most used way of correcting student misbehaviour is suspension from school. But many researchers have proposed an alternative to this method due to an obvious fact that it only makes the erring student worse in behaviour. I also believe that a corrective measure should not involve banishment from schools into the streets where they learn even worse behaviours. "Many educators who argue against suspension state that this method of discipline merely puts behaviour problems in the streets to get in more trouble and that suspension denied the student his right to an education." Better alternatives to pushing students out of school as a corrective measure are thus prescribed. A way is to deprive students some privileges and liberty in school until they are able to deal with their own problems themselves.
It is true that praising good behaviour and ignoring bad behaviour will help correct students that are disruptive in classrooms. However, the means of achieving this will differ in various classrooms and with different teachers. Teachers also have a task of determining what method best suits a student or a classroom to achieve desirable results. Good preparedness for classes on the part of teachers has also been identified as one of the ways of preventing the incidence of class disturbance by students.
Usova, G.,M. (2001). Reducing Discipline Problems in the Elementary Schools: Approaches and Suggestions. US Office of Education, Washington, D.C, pp 419-422