Positive Discipline

Achieving Positive Discipline

An Online Course: Producing A Project of Ideas & Resources with accompanying Journal.

May be taken twice for 8 credits total.

This is a distance learning course, concentrating on uses of the Internet for teaching, learning and professional development. It also is intended to give you enough web sites and leads-in to more web sites to be a continuously useful resource for your learning and doing.

Assessment is based on work you produce in series of essays/listings for each Essential Question or topic you "connect with," and with an annotated lists of sites supporting your views and reflecting your web work. Note the Rubric for Course Portfolio Assessment.

For instance, you might write “The site XXXX [http://www.xxx.com] gave me a different perspective on how to help students learn _____. It also cleared up for me something I was confused about, and that is what educators mean by __________.” Certainly you would want to elaborate more.

This work may be emailed to me at ozpk100@aol.com, or snail-mailed to me at Chad C. Osborne 923 W. Mission St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101. If you email the work, you may wish to put it in a Zip file, which compresses text and makes it easier to send over the 'Net.

Reform tries to take a more positive approach than Reward & Punishment in the matter of discipline. In their hearts, many teachers believe discipline is too often at odds with learning, and view with distaste having to assume the punishing/rewarding role of the disciplinarian. If you are not to fall prey to the "Don't smile 'til Christmas" approach, you need to develop and grow your own approaches, based on more solid foundations than behaviorist pigeon and rat psychology.


As an introductory INQUIRY #1, reclassifying the problem of discipline, spend several hours reading through [reprinting and highlighting] as many of the problem behaviors that interest you at the site You Can Handle Them All, seeing if you can detect patterns of cause (such as attention seeking) and response. Write your findings and thoughts in a Portfolio essay, and post your principal responses on the discussion board.

In your writing and posting, try to clarify your underlying purposes for "discipline," and the assumptions you have about students and human nature. Do you see students as GROWING human behavior, the seeds of which are inside them from birth--that GROWTH requires a healthy inner drive, an inner FEELING OF IMPORTANCE that they are persons who can learn, think, and manage their own lives, risking the consequences, willingly? Can you imagine a SPECTRUM between animal-like behavior at a low point of human development--and the other end of full human development? Along this spectrum can you imagine various students' levels of development? Brain research suggests a phenomenon called "downshifting" when students feel threatened, when their positive views of their power for learning are contadicted, as people who can learn, think, and handle their lives. The animal-like part of our brain, the so-called reptile brain, contains our fight or flight response mechanism. Consider how teacher behaviors such as YELLING at students while they are working weakens the inner drive and the healthy flow of mental energy that all students can have. Given this perspective, positive discipline is the search for strategies that maintain order while minimizing student "downshifting" to animal-like fight/flight responses.

Empathy for troubled children--children who make trouble as part of their trying to manage themselves are the effects of hospital childbirth, 6,000 hours of television watching prior to school, 18,000 murders watched on TV by adolescence--all described in an Interview With Joshua Chilton Pearce. Reprint and read this carefully.

Yet another factor is the effect that cumpulsory schooling has on motivation and interest: Consider the provocatively titled The Public School Nightmare: Why fix a system designed to destroy individual thought?. If much of our discipline problem is the result of treating children as commodities in the gross national project, of mismeasuring talent based on how fast something is learned, and of premature and unnecessary schooling and testing, why blame the kids?

Surely part of the solution is to have students learn PERSONAL MASTERY/self-managing strategies from their earliest school experience. This relates to the SELF-CONFIDENCE and POWER motives that you learned from Inquiry #1 are behind misbehavior patterns. Consider the variety of suggestions in the following sites regarding INQUIRY #2, approaches to POSITIVE DISCIPLINE with young children:


  1. Positive Discipline Methods for Toddlers and Preschoolers
  2. Positive Discipline for Young Children
  3. ERIC Digest on Positive Discipline With Young Children & Elementary Grades
  4. Positive Discipline At Greenway School
  5. Positive Discipline Guidelines


    Recognize your role in POSITIVE DISCIPLINE of trying to coach and mentor students to develop mastery over their own behavior and to help them see ways to succeed in learning activities. This often means MODELING, TRAINING, and DESCRIBING SUCCESSFUL PREFROMANCE. Sites on scoring RUBRICS, such as the COLLABORATION RUBRIC, Ontario Staff Room Rubrics Page and Ontario Curriculum Tracking Grids Page

    Consider the difference you can make in having small discussion groups if you train them in discussion skills. Training A Class in Discussion Skills will not only head off discipline problems by giving students self-confidence and empowering them to succeed, but will also make a staple activity of careers and adult living part of your teaching methodology. Higher level skills in discussion, teaching students to work with emotionally charged issues, can draw on the
    Public Conversations Project resources and
    Tool Box of suggestions.

    In pursuing clearer goals for students, and taking time to train them to perform successfully, you are helping students acieve positive discipline.


    Survey and surf the following seven sites, noting additional ideas and techniques:

    1. Discipline Without Stress - Based on developing social responsibility; superbly insightful!
    2. Positive Discipline.com
    3. Discipline & Classroom Management
    4. Positive Discipline
    5. Positive Discipline, #2
    6. Positive Guidance and Discipline
    7. Implementing Positive Discipline
    8. Positive Parenting's Favorites
    9. Google Search on Positive Discipline Over 400,000 sites!


You have now completed four inquiries, writing an elaboarted list or essay answer for each, with accompanying reflections and reactions on the Discussion Board.

Pick one of your classes where you would like to implement a positive discussion plan. Develop your plan in outline fashion. Implement it for at least two months, making adjustments as you go, and write an "I LEARNED/WILL CONTINUE TO..." report on your experience.

Mail your completed 4 inquiries, annotated websites, and culminating project to
Dr. Chad C. Osborne, Director
Teacher Development Network
923 West Mission Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Note the Rubric for Course Portfolio Assessment.