This is a great question. Any class can be restored. A big variable in this equation is the support given from administration and the schoolwide discipline system in place. Regardless of how much outside help you may get, though, there are always things you can do to recover. Here are some things that I would do to save a class that has drifted into bad behavior:
*Be as unemotional as possible. Using anger in an attempt to intimidate them into behaving is a big mistake. You are the score keeper. They misbehave, there is a consequence. The consequence is not the combination of the punishment and your anger or lecturing. Implement without attidue.
*Make a short list of rules and consequences. The list should start small and increase in severity. This is not the time to get cute and install 50 rules. Decide on the things that you absolutely need to have to have order. Have at least one light consequence and one serious consequence ready for each one.
*Do not take any disrespect from students. You absolutely must have some kind of consequence for disrespect. This is extremely important. Whether that means a detention, sending them to the principal, or whatever else you think of, there must be an immediate consequence. Do not allow students to get away with this.
*Respect the students. Try very hard to not use sarcasm or superiority attitudes when dealing with this kind of class. You are a fair score keeper. If they misbehave, you implement a consequence.
*Include a penalty for a acummulation of bad but not severe behavior. This will mean some kind of record keeping system. It's a little more work, I know. But isn't that worth it to your class back on track?
*Do not punish the entire class severly for bad behavior of a group. I don't care if there are 28 out of 30 students misbehaving. Don't punish the two who are actually behaving well. This may also include some record keeping.
*Do not hesitate to try to get students permanently removed from class. We want to give students every opportunity to learn. There does come a point, however, when enough is enough. If there is no limit to bad behavior, then you have a case of the inmates running the asylum. Hopefully your administration doesn't allow that to take place. The more organized and systematic your discipline plan, the easier it is to know when the appropriate time is to pursue removal.
*Do not be afraid to make drastic changes in the middle of the term. Years ago, when I was first developing my discipline program, I would experiment with major changes in my discipline plan in the middle of the term until I found out what worked best. It is easier to start your plan from day one, but not essential.
Good luck and keep all questions about discipline coming!
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