July 23, 2011

Yes, discipline issues really are nonexistent in a Results Only Learning Environment

Courtesy Theapple.monster.com
Reviewers of my yet-to-be-released book, ROLE Reversal: Results-only Learning Is Changing Education as We Know it, recently posed a variety of questions and statements about ROLE strategies. One said: "It’s almost unbelievable that there are no rules and no discipline issues." Substantiation of this was requested.

So, I thought about this for some time, wondering how I might substantiate the assertion that in spite of having no rules and no consequences in my results-only classroom, there are no behavior problems.  I could get a quote from a principal, verifying that I never refer students to the office for disciplinary action, but this wouldn't say anything about any consequences I might give in the classroom. After some consideration, I decided to go a different way.

First, let me clarify what I mean by "no behavior problems." I mean "problems" in the traditional sense of word. In other words, I do not have major disruption -- students being disrespectful to me or peers, throwing objects across the room or fighting. I get plenty of what some teachers consider discipline problems, however. My students are often out of their seats, chatting and even using electronic gadgets that may be banned in most classrooms.

Behavior issues are a matter of opinion
One thing that separates ROLE teachers from traditional teachers is how behavior is categorized. Teachers in favor of control will say that cell phone use or students talking and moving without permission are major discipline problems. The ROLE teacher embraces these behaviors, because the results-only classroom is a workshop setting that encourages autonomy and constant collaboration.

So, when someone is shocked to hear that I have no behavior issues, my first response is to suggest that my view of discipline is different from that of traditional teachers, who might argue that I have many problems, due to what they may perceive to be chaos. I say that I have no discipline problems, because my students are not disrespectful and are never disruptive in the classic sense of the word.  I never have to punish a student, nor would I consider doing so.

Most disciplinary issues begin with bad teaching  
In the past, I punished students for talking to peers, because I saw this as disruptive to the constant lecturing I was doing. When students refused to complete a task, I removed them from my room. What I didn't realize then was that the problem wasn't a disrespectful or disruptive student; it was a boring worksheet or textbook assignment, which did not offer autonomy or ignite a thirst for learning.

In addition to clarifying behavior issues, I decided I would allow my students to substantiate my assertion that there are never any discipline issues in my class. Last  year, I polled students at the end of the school year about result-only learning strategies. One question was about behavior. I asked them why they believed there were never any discipline issues in class. Eighty-four percent reported that the ROLE encouraged a desire to learn over a desire to be disruptive. 

So, without any empirical data to substantiate my claim of no discipline issues, I will again assert that there are none in a ROLE. It has nothing to do with me being a great teacher. It's about a 21st century learning environment that fans intrinsic motivation and keeps students so engaged in learning that disruption is not considered. 

Imagine how much learning would take place, if all of what you consider to be discipline problems vanished forever.