More on The Sticky Situation of Classroom Discipline.

How can we help difficult students become cooperative class members?

We recently invited the ISR community to share their impressions of classroom discipline  in international schools. Here’s a synopsis of what teachers had to say:

• Powerful parents and school board members have influence far  beyond what many of us have experienced prior to teaching overseas.

• Job-ending results for disciplining the “wrong” child may be the outcome for an International Educator’s earnest efforts. See article

Several techniques to help difficult students become cooperative class member have been suggested: Handing a yellow card to a student, much as they do in professional soccer matches, works for some educators. Emphasizing a child’s positive attributes in order to begin a conversation with parents about their child’s poor behavior, is another.

Specifically, what techniques work for you that the rest of us can benefit from knowing about? Do you have a difficult situation and need advice? This is the place to ask for it.

8 Responses to More on The Sticky Situation of Classroom Discipline.

  1. Aardy says:

    Burnt, it happens in the most established and prestigious schools as well as starting-up schools. I’ve worked in both. The need for ‘business’ over-rides principals, morals, good educational practices, and good child-training practices in schools just like it does everywhere else in the commercial world. Why would private-pay schools be any different. Dream on.
    How to deal with it? You roll with it if you want the job. If it hurts you too much to do that then you have to go somewhere else to work (and hope it doesn’t exist there too). Don’t think for a second you are going to change it. Only change is your attitude (belief) towards this. Sorry. From one who has been there and done that.


    • Been there too says:

      I completely agree with Aardy. Based on my experiences, it’s no different at most private schools. Pick your battles. Sadly, the grass is not always greener at other schools.


    • Agree says:

      Aardy, Your comments were “spot on.” I would love to work with you. You would make a “dream administrator.”


  2. Been there... says:

    My first year at a school in the Middle East went very well. I had two different classes and discipline problems were minor. As the classes were small, I dealt with the younger group by isolating the trouble makers (moving them so that they sat by themselves) and it worked like a charm.

    Second year, same school, same levels, but different students. I simply could not control the younger group at all. I actually walked out one day and had an asthma attack it was so bad. Isolating troublemakers was out of the question as the class was so overcrowded I could barely move. Plus, admin had instituted a rigid seating plan and the little “darlings” were always running to the hall supervisor and complaining if they didn’t get their own way-and he would listen to them!

    Half of the older class was failing because they could not understand English at all and never should have been placed in that level. I was unable to complete a sentence in this class as they constantly interrupted me.

    I was held accountable for both issues: discipline and academic failing and threatened repeatedly with having my bonus withheld. “Your bonus is tied to performance” they stated. All attempts to discipline students with meaningful punishments (after school detentions, etc.) were ignored. On one occasion, after giving students an infraction for cheating on verbal quizzes (they would mouth the answers to each other), I was told by the imbecile of a principal (a native of the country) with a sneer that he would just erase any infraction I wrote. This was the same man who actively helped an abysmal student get a suspiciously high grade on a make up exam he administered to her in his office. It was obvious not only to me but the Head of Department that she could not have achieved such a grade on her own.

    I was not surprised at the end of the year when they reduced my bonus and I internalized all of their criticism until reading these posts.

    It’s clear to me now that between the first and the second year of my employment, the parents applied pressure to the school and the school, despite telling us during orientation that “parents don’t tell us how to run our school”, were doing just that.

    I especially empathize with “Burnt in Guatemala” as I had one student who told me when I wrote him up for a problem his work, “Do you know who my father is?” This same student (age 16) wanted to go to school in the US to become a doctor or pharmacist, but had never taken a single science course and could not believe he needed them as well as the TOEFL exam to get into a US university.

    Finally, I have to agree with Carol. I too have no idea of how to successfully deal with it other than having given up teaching overseas.


  3. dawn aslam says:

    Good morning everybody.
    I would first suggest that all unruly children are tested for dyslexia. In my experience as a behaviour support teacher, dyslexia lay behind a lot of ill behaviour. The dyslexic student at a loss as to how to proceed, can only run, misbehave or become the class clown.
    You will need to employ a pyschologist or someone who has experience in testing for dyslexia.


  4. Carol says:

    I have experienced the same thing. If the administration won’t back us I have no idea how to deal with this.


  5. burnt in Guatemala says:

    I was singled out for daring to discipline the son of a very wealthy Guatemalan who lacked any trace of formal education. You don’t need a high school degree, let alone a college degree, to be a drug kingpin. The spineless director of this “wonderful” school backed down immediately under the power of this parent and I was encouraged to apologize and say I must have mistaken his son for some one else. I caught this young man cheating on an exam and he was so academically low (dull) that he actually copied the name of the student he was cheating from onto his own paper. Genius!!!

    From that day forward I asked the director to distribute discipline procedures to the staff in written format. He refused. We were on our own. I tried all sorts of reward programs and encouragement but this young man and many others were convinced that their parents’ money put them outside the realm of any responsibility. And this it did in Guatemala. Upon graduation these kids attended well know United States universities and within 6 weeks returned to Guatemala, complete failures, unable to make it on any level in a US university where the family money had no clout. All those unearned grades meant nothing out side Guatemala.

    Unfortunately, these kids will attend college in Guatemala and daddy will see to it they sail through with flying colors. The sad thing is they will go on to be leaders in their country while so many talented students won’t have a chance.

    I sincerely have no idea how to deal with such students, especially when admin. Backs down at the first sign of a confrontation. If anyone has any ideas I would love to hear from you.


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