Discipline/Problem Solving

Discipline/Problem Solving

Our goal is to provide a structured and safe environment with a warm and inviting atmosphere that motivates our students to achieve their potential. Consistent discipline is key to achieving that goal. Remember, discipline is the process of helping children develop self-control; discipline does not equal punishment. Setting clear ground rules and schedules lets people know what to do and were to go. Giving students a say in setting the ground rules instills ownership and helps them to make good choices. We believe in supporting students' choices. Should a student make an inappropriate choice we work to make sure that student is held responsible for the natural or logical consequences of the choice. Only Site Supervisors are allowed to administer consequences. Other staff are to follow the discipline policy and problem solve with students when appropriate. Problem Solving is Teen REACH's primary method of discipline. Problem solving is a respectful way to enable students to fix their mistakes.

Our discipline procedure has four components:

  • Expectations - If students don't know what they are supposed to do or how they are supposed to behave they will have the tendency to get into trouble. Students not only need to know the rules and procedures of the program, they need to be reminded consistently, beforehand. Reminding students of the rules after they have gotten in trouble is reactive not proactive. Frequently going over the rules and procedures, at the beginning of the day, lets students know what is expected of them and that you are going to be consistent in enforcing them. This doesn't have to be a daily practice but at least once a week or especially before something not ordinarily on the schedule like a field trip or guest speaker.
  • Observation - It is easy to get distracted while working with students. A major part of our job is to keep the entire student population safe, physically and emotionally. We need to stay alert to possible problems that could arise. The goal is watch for signs of problem behavior and redirect students before the problem escalates.
  • Documentation - When a student does choose to behave inappropriately the behavior needs to be documented. For this purpose we have behavior documentation form or yellow sheets. Documentation can be brief and to the point, just the details of what happened. We document specific observable behaviors only. If Sally said Johnny hit her in the face with the ball and we didn't see it, we don't write, "Johnny hit Sally in the face with the ball." Rather, "Sally reported that Johnny hit her in the face with the ball. Sally had a red mark on her face." Also, we are not therapists, we don't diagnose - "Johnny has been having troubles at home that could be leading to aggression." These sheets will help us intervene with good students who might be having some other difficulty and allow us to identify and dismiss any student not appropriate for our program. We also use these sheets to assist in determining student eligibility for field trips. A binder to file the documentation forms will be kept in the Teen REACH room. Any time you have a discipline problem with a student document the behavior, if necessary report it to a site supervisor or the coordinator, and file the yellow sheet in the binder.
  • Problem Solving - Once a student is observed behaving inappropriately we should process with the student using the Problem Solving method. Problem Solving is a respect based, solution focused process that can be used as a formal or informal method depending on the difficulty of the problem. Sometimes when a student is acting out it can be difficult to respond respectfully. When we properly use a problem solving method it separates the person from the behavior or problem. It can send the important message that a person can make a mistake and fix it and not be the mistake. We can then focus on a way to solve the problem instead of focusing on why a person did what they did. While it is important to identify the problem, we only use this step to assist in developing viable solutions. An important guideline of this step is that a person can never be the problem!