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Discipline, as defined by Google, is a noun or verb which is the practice of or to train (someone) to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience. Classrooms must have agreed up on rules and follow common unspoken rules to be successful. But a successful classroom goes beyond discipline into life skills and learning. I am often asked what I use for classroom management. The answer is a combination of love, creativity, patience, and teaching.

Education is filled with buzz words. Having been in the classroom for 18 years I have seen the pendulum swing back and forth from teaching method to teaching method, philosophy to philosophy, strategy to strategy, and so on. There are things that make me cringe and they eventually fail. Interwoven within each swing, however, are good ideas. Habits of Mind is one of those good ideas.

We have all been to the doctor and been told things we need to do more of or better or differently. Eat more greens, drink water, exercise. Teaching is about philosophy and management and goes beyond knowledge. Inspiring learning is not just a prescription, like something given by a doctor and followed or ignored. It goes beyond discipline where a community is created and strengthened. Incorporating Habits of Mind into your classroom is about developing character towards behaving perceptively when confronted with problems. It is about providing students with tools and strategies and developing responses to situations that are constructive instead of destructive. Using Habits of Mind builds citizens.

There are many resources available to learn about and find resources for teaching with Habits of Mind. Research these habits and reflect within yourself on the habits you have that are strengths and those in which you struggle. Use this to help you understand your management style and needs.  Set up your classroom as a working community and think about your students as a group working towards a common goal–learning. Going beyond the sticker chart, clip up/clip down, and other external rewards systems into teaching Habits of Mind will allow for more teaching time and less time spent on discipline.

In the first week of school discuss the habits or the habits you want to focus on in your classroom. Have students self-reflect. Ask them to think of examples of people in their own lives who are examples of the habits. Read books that have characters demonstrating the habits. Post the habits and have an open discussion about how your classroom community will work. Be clear in your expectations. Setting up the atmosphere of your classroom will set the successful tone for your year.

My classroom is a community of learning. This is achieved through trust and respect. It takes setting the stage in the beginning, but students learn life skills that will enable them to be successful citizens. This school year, think about moving beyond discipline and into developing life long habits in your students. Use some of the resources to learn about, teach, and live the Habits of Mind. You will find a community developing and the need for discipline decrease so you can do what you love, teach!

Habits of Mind Website:  Single Page Poster

Facebook Page 

Integrating Habits of Mind
Habits of Mind Lesson Plans 

Habits of Mind: Persistence[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Lori Rice is a fourth-grade teacher at West Elementary in Wamego, Kansas, who has taught K-2 reading...

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