1.Assertive Discipline Model

The Assertive Discipline classroom management model was initially developed by Lee Canter in the 1970s and then expanded based on Marlene Canter’s work with focusing children with behavioral problems (Canter 1979). Although this approach is often characterized as primarily on rewards and punishments, the Canters actually place great emphasis on “catching students being good” and then providing appropriate feedback and reinforcement.

This approach was developed to train teachers specifically to manage behavior in a classroom setting and is based on the idea that teachers have a right to teach in a well-managed classroom and students have the right to learn in a controlled environment.

The premise of Assertive Discipline is that teachers should establish a systematic discipline plan prior to the start of the school year and then communicate expectations and consequences to the students immediately. Having a preconceived, systematic plan permits a teacher to be consistent with behavioral expectations and to apply praises and consequences to all students in a fair and reliable manner.

The four main components of the Assertive Discipline model include the teacher establishing:

  • a set of consistent, firm, and fair rules;
  • a predetermined set of positive consequences for adhering to the rules;
  • a prearranged set of negative consequences to be applied when rules are not followed; and
  • a plan to implement the model with students. The Canters hold that an effective behavior management program is fueled by informed student choices. Students are aware of teacher expectations and what will occur when they choose to meet those expectations and, conversely, what will occur when they choose not to adhere to the established classroom rules.

Application In the Classroom

The Assertive Discipline model can be applied to any classroom situation with any grade level of students. In utilizing this approach, teachers must determine the expectations and consequences that are appropriate for the subject area and age of the students they serve. For example, there are specific expectations that apply to particular subject areas; this would be the case with a high school science class. In this situation, the teacher could utilize the Assertive Discipline model to establish expectations for lab procedures (such as: safety glasses must be worn when using the Bunsen burner; procedures must be followed to utilize scalpels during dissection; care for the microscope and slides must be considered). Regardless of age or expectation, students require positive feedback whether on expectations are being met or consequences need to be applied. Teachers must develop consequences that are appropriate based on the classroom situation and age of the students.

For example, although missing five minutes of recess students must find can easily be applied to students in an elementary setting, teachers of middle and high school age consequences that are applicable to their setting, such a serving a five-minute detention after school or with cleaning the lab during lunch.

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