Designing Strategies for Sustainable Discipline
Topics: Equity and Diversity
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education has released a fact sheet detailing evidence-based approaches to effective school discipline policies, “Creating and Sustaining Discipline Policies That Support Students’ Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Academic Well-Being and Success: Strategies for School and District Leaders.”
When designing disciplinary policies and practices, school leaders must consider whether practices are designed to punish or promote responsive relationships and safe, supportive, and equitable learning environments. If the goal is to improve student behavior, interventions should focus on teaching and supporting appropriate behavior with evidence-based, nonpunitive interventions and supports.
Discipline implemented in this way teaches young people the skills necessary to manage their behavior and helps them learn from mistakes. By centering approaches on a positive school climate, administrators can reduce the behaviors that warrant disciplinary action in intensity and frequency.
Punishment-Based Versus Responsive Discipline Practices
The report recommends reflecting on current disciplinary policies with staff, students, families, and the community, contrasting the following markers:
|Punishment-Based Discipline Practices||Responsive Discipline Practices|
|Exclusionary, punitive, transactional||Inclusionary, supportive, restorative,|
|Rely on power and control||Rely on relationships and|
|Penalty for bad behavior; making a child suffer for breaking rules; barrier to learning||Teach child skills to manage their behavior; help them learn from mistakes; facilitate learning|
|Done to||Done with|
|Leave a child with shame and guilt||Leave a child’s dignity intact|
|Activate stress response (fight, flight, or freeze)||Activate relaxation response|
|Deficit-oriented||Asset- and growth-oriented|
|Technical strategies||Adaptive strategies|