As much as we don’t want to admit it, we all experience classroom discipline issues. Some years, disciplinary problems are relatively nonexistent, but other years these hurdles seem insurmountable. Therefore, finding appropriate ways to rectify misbehavior without losing valuable learning time is the goal of every teacher. Discover three easy to implement classroom discipline ideas that will discourage negative behavior, resolve issues, and you never have to say a word!
Non-Verbal Classroom Discipline Ideas
1. Eye contact
This may seem pretty obvious, but direct eye contact is one of the easiest nonverbal cues we can give. Think about it like this…when you were growing up in church, did you ever receive the “stink eye” from one of your parents because you were talking or giggling? As soon as your eyes met theirs, you knew you’d better shut up or you were getting your butt torn off.
Welcome to the power of eye contact.
Using this effectively in the classroom is no different. If you notice a child is misbehaving or simply off-task, look them right in the eye and raise your eyebrows. This is the universal sign for “I see you, and now you know that I see you…so you had better get it together.” You can also shake your head no ever so slightly to give them assurance that they need to stop.
If you have a child who is oblivious to your eye contact because they are engrossed in some type of off-task behavior, adding the slightest throat-clearing sound along with a very solemn expression will typically get their attention.
When you notice a student is not engaged or is becoming a distraction to others, the easiest way to get them back on track is to make eye contact with them. But what if you’ve done all of the throat-clearing, glaring, and head shaking you can do and the kid is still off-task? That is when you add the next nonverbal cue…proximity.
Another one of my favorite classroom discipline ideas is simply proximity. If you can’t catch their eyes or you’re dealing with a repeat offender who strategically ignores the eye contact, simply begin walking toward his/her desk.
My favorite part is you never have to stop teaching to invoke this technique. As you are looking around making eye contact with many of your students, you are getting closer and closer to the offender’s desk.
When the student figures out that you are headed toward them, many times they will correct their own behavior. If I notice that they have gotten back on task by the time I get to their desk, I don’t even acknowledge it. I just keep walking right past that desk and around the room as though that was my intention all along.
3. Using Your Hands
To take this one step farther, place your hand on a child’s desk. This is just one more non-verbal deterrent to resolve discipline issues that might arise, and it’s a great way to get the necessary attention quickly.
If I notice a student is playing with something in their desk or fiddling with something they aren’t supposed to have, I silently walk over, hold out my hand, and let them hand me the item. Generally, this solves the problem and we continue on with the lesson.
I don’t say a word to them because I don’t need to. They are very aware of the fact that they weren’t supposed to be playing with whatever thing they had! This also doesn’t interrupt the flow of the lesson. Many of the other kids aren’t even aware of what is going on. Which is the ultimate goal!
The Most Important Thing to Remember
Unfortunately, we know that discipline issues are found in every classroom. With that many different little people and personalities in one space, it’s bound to happen. And that is why it is so important to implement new classroom discipline ideas that provide solutions and do not humiliate. Remember, the kids who tend to be disciplinary “repeat offenders” are typically the ones in desperate need of love and attention.
Learning how to resolve discipline issues will be a lifelong process. Each year will present new challenges. However, these classroom discipline ideas will make the biggest difference in starting the school year in total upheaval versus one in complete control. By introducing these non-verbal cues into your daily routine, you will find your instructional time increasing and disciplinary issues decreasing!