Positive Classroom Discipline
Chapter 17 - School-Site Discipline Management Procedures
This chapter was written in collaboration with Thomas H. DeBolt,
Principal, Hermitage High School, Richmond, Virginia. In 1985,
Hermitage High School was cited as one of the 100 top high schools
in America by the U.S. Department of Education.
Discipline management at a school site can be divided into
- Classroom discipline management. The management of
discipline problems within the classroom where the teacher
can structure the learning environment more or less unaided.
- School-site discipline management. The management
of discipline problems outside the classroom where the teacher
is highly dependent on the collaboration and support of colleagues
for success. School-site discipline management includes the
management of noise in the halls, noise and mess in the cafeteria,
cuts and tardies, yard duty, bus duty, smoking in the lavatory,
and conduct in assemblies to name but a few.
Our analysis of discipline management in this volume has concerned
itself primarily with classroom discipline management. The use
of large and extra-large back-up responses, however, draws the
teacher into collaboration with administrators to solve management
problems that have now spilled out of the classroom. Since large
and extra-large back-up responses delineate school-site policy
rather than classroom policy, the topic of back-up systems places
us at the point of transition between classroom discipline management
and school-site discipline management.
The purpose of the present chapter is to flesh out to a greater
degree the interface in discipline management between teachers
and their colleagues, both fellow teachers and administrators.
This topic, of course, is worthy of a separate volume, so the
treatment here will be brief. It will focus only on selected
topics that may help us to see key elements of the teacher's
and administrator's roles in discipline management outside the
classroom. It is hoped that this discussion will help prevent
some common miscalculations that often cripple a faculty's efforts
to deal effectively with discipline problems at the school-site
WHERE TO BEGIN?
If we were to take a poll of teachers concerning the most pressing
discipline problem. at their school sites, most would top their
list with discipline problems outside their classrooms.
- If you could just get rid of the noise in the halls, I
- It's the cafeteria! That's the most obnoxious part of my
entire school day.
- The kids get into hassles with each other in the yard,
and then they bring the bickering and fighting into the classroom.
- Attendance and tardies! That's what drives me up the wall!
I don't get anything taught for the first 5 or 10 minutes
just because I have to deal with all those pink slips and
kids wandering in late!
And, just as with teachers, if we were to ask administrators
what was needed to improve discipline at the school site, most
would also cite discipline problems outside the classroom.
Perhaps because of its apparent (and illusory) scope and simplicity,
school-site discipline policy tends to be seen as the most direct
route to an improved work environment by teachers and administrators
who share the misplaced notion that major improvement can be
achieved by mandates in conjunction with more severe negative
sanctions for offending students.
In fact, beginning to improve the discipline at a school site
by focusing on school-site discipline policy-regardless of its
degree of sophistication-rather than classroom management is
a tactical choice that usually produces meager results because:
- Faculty consensus and commitment are required to deal with
most problems of school-site management.
- Consensus as to what to do and how to do it and commitment
from everyone to follow through are extremely hard to
reach with an untrained faculty. See how many faculty meetings
you can waste discussing the simple issue of who is responsible
for the noise in the halls.
- Successful management of behavior outside the classroom
does not increase time-on-task and learning within
the classroom nearly as dramatically as does classroom management.
- Success with classroom management reduces teacher stress
more than does success with management outside the classroom.
- Many problems outside the classroom can be managed through
the extension of classroom management programs such as responsibility
training (see Chapter 21 of Tools for Teaching).
Thus, it is usually more cost-effective to begin within the
- Unless sophisticated classroom management programs are
in place which can deal effectively with most severe or recurring
behavior problems, administrators' time will be consumed operating
relatively simplistic back-up programs based on punition which
do not self-eliminate. Such programs consume much of the time
and energy needed for effective school-site leadership while
structuring an adversarial relationship between administrators
and chronic troublemakers.
As a majority of teachers on a faculty become trained in the
use of effective classroom management techniques, however, a
consensus grows regarding:
- Method. The faculty now shares a common language
and technology for talking about and dealing with management
problems. Methodological sophistication produces a shared
understanding of which method is best for which problem.
- Confidence. Once success has been experienced in
classroom management as a result of affordable methods, a
confidence grows among trained teachers that management problems
outside the classroom can be dealt with successfully and straightforwardly.
In fact, the faculty gets impatient to collaborate in order
to eliminate chronic school-site headaches.
- Responsibility. Trained teachers now know what the
office can do for them and what it cannot do for them. And
they know what management options are available to administrators
as well as the cost. If administrators want to deal with the
issue of bouncing, for example, they can usually muster faculty
support for a response-cost program to deal with it (see Chapter
16) rather than precipitating faculty resentment. And
if the administration needs full faculty involvement and support
in developing new procedures, teachers are more likely to
work together out of enlightened self-interest since they
have no illusions about the cost of not working together.
As a faculty reaches a shared, well-developed understanding
of discipline management, they will come to appreciate more
how dependent they are on each other for success outside the
classroom. With confidence up and blaming and defensiveness
down, a faculty, with some guidance, can grow to accept the
single, simple principle which underlies any successful attempt
to implement improved school-site behavioral standards: Every
student belongs to every teacher all the time.
Without this cohesion plus a well-developed management plan
which involves faculty and administration working together in
each management situation, a school site is usually doomed to
repeat the errors of the past. Weak faculty members abdicate
responsibility for management while demanding continual support
from the administration, and the rest of the faculty concurs.
Administrators respond with policy mandates while squandering
their time and energy accomplishing very little in the office
(see Chapter 16), and everyone
agrees that kids have certainly changed for the worse over the
ADEQUATE STRUCTURE PREVENTS EXPENSIVE REMEDIATION
School-site discipline management procedures, like classroom
rules, routines, and standards, describe the "how to"
of carrying out basic jobs at the school site. As with rules,
routines, and standards within the classroom (see Chapter 12
of Tools for Teaching), school-site discipline management
procedures are the preventive medicine of discipline
management for student behaviors outside the classroom. If done
properly, school-site discipline management will prevent
much of the use of the school site's back-up system.
Whereas classroom rules, routines, and standards focus on the
responsibilities of students within the classroom, school-site
discipline management procedures focus on the responsibilities
of the faculty. As with classroom structure, however, school-site
structure is often designed and implemented on a "quick
and dirty" basis. In order to succeed, school-site discipline
management procedures and responsibilities that have been carefully
organized and practiced need to be detailed and shared.
Instituting school-site discipline management procedures puts
into bold relief a dimension of the principal's role as instructional
leader that is rarely appreciated. In developing and implementing
school-site management procedures, the principal's role in relation
to the faculty is highly analogous to the teacher's role in
relation to their students in classroom discipline management.
In the teacher/leader role it is the principal's responsibility
to establish the priority of working together to carry out basic
routines involving the student body, to set time aside for procedural
development and values clarification, and to teach the performance
of the various procedures as a series of structured lessons.
As with classroom management, the ownership of the values,
rules, and procedures of school-site discipline management will
be much greater if the people responsible for implementing them
are enfranchised in the process of development. School-site
leadership, therefore, puts a premium on skills of consensus
building and team building-higher level facilitation and negotiation
skills that are not always present in the skill repertoire of
the principal. To the extent that these skills are absent, mandates
will be substituted for rule building, obedience will be substituted
for ownership, and the irresponsible behavior of individuals
will be substituted for faculty cohesiveness.
What are some successful procedures for school-site discipline
management? Are they elaborate, subtle, and tricky? Quite to
the contrary, they tend to be simple, straightforward, and commonsensical.
However, they often fly in the face of existing practice. Above
all they require a clear and effective plan and the expenditure
of effort by everyone to achieve effective supervision as a
means of preventing student unruliness.
We will examine several management settings in order to observe
effective school-site management up close. The pattern of school-site
faculty and administrative cohesiveness will emerge quite naturally
for the reader as it did for me in observing many school sites
and talking with their administrators and teachers over the
years. We will look primarily at secondary schools since problems
of school-site discipline management are more complex and more
acute there. We will look at elementary schools separately when
the nature of implementation changes form, but for the most
part what works at the secondary level works at the elementary
We will begin with all-school assemblies at a high school.
Such assemblies have grown so disorderly in recent decades that
they have been discontinued altogether in many school sites.
Principals and teachers in these schools throw up their hands
at the idea of reinstituting that obnoxious ritual mindful of
the rowdiness that caused such "cultural events" to
be discontinued. A study of successful all-school assemblies,
however, provides a paradigm of effective school-site discipline
management and faculty cohesiveness.
"I can usually tell within 2 minutes after I enter a
high school who runs the place. I simply stop by the boys'
lavatory on the way to the office and take a look around-especially
at the floor. If it is clean, I know that the adults run the
school. If it is dirty and there are cigarette butts, I know
the kids run the school."
This casual but revealing remark was made by a member of a
theater group that frequently performs at all-school assemblies
in high schools throughout the southeastern United States. Litter
and cigarette butts on the lavatory floor mean a long, difficult
afternoon in front on an unappreciative audience.
In high schools where all-school assemblies have fallen into
disrepute, teachers will often fight the idea of having all-school
assemblies because of the rowdiness. "Let's forget the
whole thing" is, however, a decision that robs students
of many valuable learning experiences. The overriding rationale
for having all-school assemblies is that you can do things in
an assembly that you cannot do in the classroom. Musicals, theater,
special speakers, and presentations that are too large and expensive
for small groups can only be presented in assemblies. And learning
how to behave in an assembly is as much a part of the students'
socialization as is learning how to behave in a classroom.
All-school assemblies, like any large group gathering of students,
warrants the coordinated effort of administrators and the entire
faculty because of the sheer numbers of students needing supervision.
A common assumption among faculties who have severe management
problems with all-school assemblies is the notion that managing
large-group settings is not part of their job. Such an assumption
turns a blind eye to the fact that the students are in the building
and, by definition, under supervision of the staff. In schools
where all-school assemblies have degenerated into blatant rowdiness,
typically few teachers and administrators are on the scene managing
the situation. Most have dumped the kids and left for the lounge.
So, the kids raise hell, predictably. Rowdiness in unsupervised
large group settings is not a strange happening among adolescents.
What is strange is the lack of adequate adult supervision.
The following procedures for managing an all-school assembly
are not etched in stone. They simply add up to the success of
some exceptional high schools with which I have worked. It is
hoped that these guidelines can provide direction to faculties
as they work out the details at their various school sites.
Take these seven guidelines as an example rather than as a prescription,
but keep in mind that compromises which omit basic pieces of
the puzzle may carry a disproportionate cost in terms of ensuing
- High-Quality Programs with Variety. Having a thousand
students watch a I -hour presentation is 1000 hours of time-on-task.
The program should be worth the time. And since you cannot
please everyone, variety is the spice of life.
- Seating According to a Plan. Absolutely avoid open seating.
Anonymous seating produces a zoo in which various groups
and cliques (the bikers, the jocks, the freaks, the four-wheelers,
the greasers, and the "students") sit together and
show off for each other through heckling and outrageous behavior.
Instead, seating is by small groups supervised and
monitored by a regular teacher (usually the homeroom teacher
or the first period teacher).
- Teachers Responsible For Supervision. Teachers are
responsible for their students' behavior in an assembly just
as they are in the classroom. Teachers sit where they can
see all their students. Thus, if a teacher has rows six through
nine, the teacher sits in row nine where she or he can watch
the students. If someone is out of line, the teacher sends
a message down the row and deals with the behavior afterwards.
Teachers are also responsible for making sure the troublemakers
are not Sitting next to each other. In some cases the teacher
may even have a seating plan for assemblies with specific
students Sitting next to the teacher. In addition, teachers
are responsible for getting their students quiet as they enter
the auditorium and are seated.
- Clear Expectations. Behavior appropriate to all-school
assemblies should be clearly reviewed and discussed at the
beginning of the semester, and basic rules should be reviewed
before each assembly.
- Consistent Beginning Format. The principal opens
the assembly in an upbeat fashion, typically sharing some
form of good news with the student body. It is the principal's
responsibility to make sure that everything is "cool"
before the assembly proceeds. Movement is extremely valuable
to the principal at this time, and a lavaliere microphone
is nearly a necessity. The principal is, in effect, limit-setting
on the wing as he or she walks part way up the aisles in order
to address the students personally. He or she does not stand
on the stage behind a podium like a statue. When the tone
of the assembly has been set, the principal turns the microphone
over to the student-body president, who introduces the assembly
- Dismissal by Plan. Management of the student body
by small groups continues through dismissal. Dismissing everyone
at once is an invitation to chaos. Typically the assembly
is dismissed by rows or by teachers' names so that only three
or four classrooms are standing to leave at any one time.
- Fixed Time Frame. The next period of the school day
should start immediately after the assembly with attendance
and tardies strictly monitored. A clear focus on immediately
getting back to work greatly reduces dawdling, tardies, cuts,
and a "school's out" attitude that makes for rowdiness
in the halls.
Graduation ceremonies are simply all-school assemblies to which
the parents are invited. Although graduation has become an outrageous
"happening" at many schools in recent years, the guidelines
stated above plus a few special rules should infuse the proceedings
with an appropriate degree of orderliness. Special rules for
- No babies. To be more specific, no one under 4 years
- Admission by ticket only. Unless admission is by
ticket only, the school is leaving itself wide open for the
staging of a carnival rather than a graduation ceremony. Anyone
who cares to show up does so in any imaginable condition.
Boyfriends and girlfriends from different school sites and
different parts of town drop in along with a few local bikers,
drunk uncle Barney, and a bunch of drop-outs complete with
six-packs. Someone can be counted on to yell at the most inappropriate
moment, "Fairfield sucks!" (this is Fairfield's
graduation), or "Central High is number one!" (Fairfield
lost to Central in the big game). If the administration is
lucky, the fights will take place under the grandstands.
- Careful rehearsal. In many schools, it is amazing
that people are simply told to show up. In order to avoid
the obvious, rules and procedures need to be clarified with
students in conjunction with several rehearsals, which include
a rehearsal of checking in and checking out gowns and caps.
- Faculty and administrators help with supervision. Graduation
is a school function, not an optional event. If everybody
helps, there may be one supervisor for every twenty to twenty-five
students. As usual, as in any all-school assembly, seating
and supervision will be by small groups with a faculty member
responsible for each group of students.
Halls and Lavatories
School-site discipline management procedures in the halls and
lavatories are related issues which focus on passing between
classes in a departmentalized setting. Although many highly
specific procedures may be instituted at any given school site,
the following general guidelines convey the tone and nature
of effective supervision.
Monitoring the Halls Monitoring the halls is a classic
example of management by walking around-the administrative equivalent
of limit-setting on the wing. Halls need to be monitored at
all times, and all administrators and teachers need to help.
The following policies give a rough outline of a successful
- Two teachers are on hall duty during every period.
- Administrators are in the halls frequently, ready to deal
with whatever they find (see Chapter
- Additional teachers and administrators are in the hall while
students are passing between classes.
- No student is in the hall without a pass during class
- Hall passes are written so that they are not easy to issue
(a response-cost management system for issuing hall passes).
- Teachers keep a log of hall passes in each class (including
the time of going and returning) as a check against abuse
of the hall pass privilege (if there is such a thing as hall
passes at the school site).
Monitoring the Lavatories As the member of the theater
troupe was well aware, lavatories provide a most sensitive indicator
of who runs the school building. If adults stay out of the lavatory,
it belongs to the students. If it belongs to the students, then
the lavatory is the logical place to smoke, deface property,
deal drugs, have fights, and get outrageous. Perhaps as important,
a lack of adult supervision establishes the precedent by default
that students can do what they please on school property regardless
of what the rules say. The following guidelines are designed
to make the lavatory a part of the school that is managed just
as any other part:
- Faculty members on hall duty spot-check each lavatory repeatedly
during each class period as do administrators who are out
- Faculty members have specific assignments for monitoring
lavatories during breaks.
The objective of supervision of the lavatories, like all management
of large group gatherings outside class, is to provide an adult
presence in a systematic and predictable fashion to make students
accountable for their behaviors. The goal is to keep the "bad
ass" 5 percent of the student body from pulling the "turkey"
15 percent into taking over the place. The vast majority of
the student body will be most grateful for the faculty assuming
its proper leadership role since it is no fun to be intimidated
as the price of going to the bathroom.
Managing Behavior in the Cafeteria
At the secondary level management of behavior in the cafeteria
is, for the most part, a variation on the theme of management
by walking around, monitoring by moving continuously among the
students, conversing with them comfortably and keeping an eye
on things. As always, the key ingredient is the presence of
an adult for purposes of accountability within a pleasant context.
The open seating and free conversation of the cafeteria make
a "hang loose" attitude among adults most appropriate.
Diplomacy is the key as opposed to an authoritarian attitude.
Effective cafeteria monitors typically know the students by
name, engage in informal conversation and kidding with them,
are regarded by the students as a friend, and deal with minor
problems through physical proximity and simple prompts which
are often nonverbal. In the case of a confrontation, if monitors
can simply remember the golden rule of limit-setting (when in
doubt do nothing), and if they relax, shut up, retain eye contact,
and simply wait after having given a prompt, the student will
usually fold rather than continue the incident.
Supervision of the cafeteria at the elementary level follows
the same principles as at the secondary level with the exception
that it has a larger element of instruction concerning appropriate
cafeteria behavior-especially in the primary grades. Thus, teachers
typically accompany their young students to the cafeteria and
eat with them.
Many teachers find this notion of eating with their students
a noxious intrusion into their free lunch period, but there
is no quick, easy, and effortless way to train students to use
good manners and clean up after themselves. If the teachers
pay their dues up front, however, by carefully supervising lunchroom
behavior early in the school year, the ratio of monitors to
students can be thinned as good eating habits and good cleanup
habits become established. Lunchroom monitors hired from the
community can be gradually substituted for the teacher's supervision
in many cases so that the teachers can eventually have their
free lunch period.
The efforts of the faculty in behavior management in the cafeteria
must be matched by the administration, particularly at the elementary
level. The one major correlate that I find between a trouble-free
cafeteria and administrator behavior as I travel is that the
principal is present in the cafeteria. Many principals will
throw up their hands in revulsion on first hearing this news,
but these are the same principals who describe their cafeteria
as a zoo - as though the situation were both natural and irremediable.
In well-managed cafeterias the principal typically talks with
the students as they enter, kidding them and conversing with
them by name, and walks among the tables during lunch giving
praise and gentle reminders.
An active administrator role during the lunch period pays dividends
not only with the student body but with the faculty as well.
Help by the administrator in cafeteria supervision helps free
teachers from cafeteria monitoring so that they can have their
free lunch period earlier in the school year. In this way the
principal is seen as paying his or her dues with a direct benefit
to the faculty for which the teachers are usually quite grateful.
Supervision of the Yard and/or Playground
At both the secondary and elementary levels most fights take
place on the playground as does most intimidation, extortion,
and other assorted maladies. As in the supervision of all other
large group settings, the main tool still seems to be responsible
adult supervision and management by walking around. The administrators,
in particular, pay their dues by supervising the yard or quad
at the junior high or high school, but their efforts need to
be supplemented by teachers who have specific supervisory assignments.
The behavior of the yard supervisors should be low key as it
is in the cafeteria, with a maximal use of body and a minimal
use of mouth for dealing with unpleasant situations. As in any
form of supervision, accountability is the key objective and,
consequently, knowing the students by name is critical. For
this reason alone, the hiring of outside personnel for supervisory
duties can help only up to a point. It does little good, for
example, to hear from a playground monitor at an elementary
Some big kid from the fourth or fifth grade punched out one
of the little kids and took his ball. I don't know who it was,
but he had sandy brown hair.
If the playground supervisors know the students by name, however,
so that strict accountability for inappropriate behavior is
a possibility, then management can often be a simple extension
of the homeroom teacher's responsibility training program (see
Chapter 10). The playground supervisor may wish to "bench"
the student temporarily, but a note routed promptly to the teacher
after recess can be translated into a loss of PAT which encourages
the peer group to set limits on their own behavior during play.
A more difficult problem at the secondary level on some campuses
is verbal abuse, verbal threat, and physical threat to faculty
who attempt to intervene in an unacceptable situation. Teachers
who have not been trained in the skills of limit-setting will
tend to be confrontational when dealing with outrageous behavior.
They may as well wear a sign on their back that says, "I'm
a jerk," or "Crucify me."
"Kid, what's your name!"
"Oh, yeah? Listen, you can't talk to me that way!"
"I just did."
It is downhill from there, and the macho teacher is probably
in for more abuse if he continues to up the ante with pheasant
posturing. Often a heavy-handed teacher turns a relatively innocuous
situation into a painful if not dangerous one. Usually physical
proximity, relaxation, a respectful prompt, eye contact, and
closed mouth will produce the desired result. If, however, a
student should threaten the adult, the faculty member or administrator
must make a tactical decision. Is it a bluff or is this for
real? Am I in physical danger? Usually the cardinal rule of
"when in doubt do nothing" will provide the best rule
for action in the heat of the moment-or inaction as the case
might be. Should the situation become dangerous, the adult simply
excuses him- or herself respectfully and leaves peaceably. It
is time to get help.
PLANS, PRIORITIES, AND LOGISTICS
Cohesiveness and Commitment
Many attempts to manage behavior fail owing to the simple lack
of a plan. An all-school assembly with open seating is a classic
example of a large group gathering without a plan of management.
It therefore becomes mismanagement by non-management. The absence
of continual supervision of the lavatories and halls is another
common example. Unless there is a specific, highly detailed
plan with well-understood assignments for all administrators
and faculty members, there is no reason to expect a large gathering
of young people to be anything but a picnic.
Quite often a faculty's first experience with a well-planned
group activity comes as something of a revelation. As one teacher
commented to me regarding the school fire drill:
Our fire drills were always the same, a mass of confusion.
The kids would be told how to walk through the halls and where
to meet outside the buildings. But when the bell rang, we always
ended up with the whole student body milling around on the playground.
Following training I decided, as you had suggested, to treat
the fire drill as I would any other structured lesson with explanation,
modeling, and practice. I took my students through a dry run
complete with the verbal commands that I would be giving, walking
through the halls properly, finding the place where we are to
line up outdoors, and reentering the building. Sure enough,
when we had the fire drill, it all went according to plan. It
was embarrassingly straightforward. Students weren't unruly
at all once they knew exactly what to do, especially with me
being there the whole time.
Yet the notion of a plan carries with it the notion of faculty
commitment to carrying out the plan. It must be an important
faculty activity which is acknowledged by everyone and shared
by everyone. Consensus and commitment are the ingredients by
which school-site discipline management lives or dies.
As in all discipline management, we are up against a classic
case of "pay me now or pay me later." A faculty that
does not want to be bothered by management will be bothered
by an endless stream of obnoxious behavior. The resulting reliance
on enforcement rather than prevention will be more stressful
and costly in the long run-a series of failure-laden run-ins
with lippy kids convincing many on the faculty that discipline
management outside the classroom is rightfully somebody else's
job. When faculty and administration share this perception they
will simply pass mandates directly to the students with no meaningful
plan of implementation whatsoever. Students, in turn, frequently
screw up-as is predictable in lieu of structures that spell
success while adults and young people back ever deeper into
As I talk with teachers and administrators about effective
school-site discipline management, I get two distinctly different
types of responses - a bimodal split with not much in between.
The first response, typically given by faculty and administrators
at effective school sites, is: Of course! That's obvious. The
second response is: Are you kidding? You're out of your
mind if you think we are going to go to that kind of trouble.
What goes on outside my classroom is not my problem. Faculties
with the second attitude are, predictably enough, the faculties
that are suffering most from obnoxious and unruly behavior.
A lack of faculty cohesion is most commonly evident in a simple
unwillingness of faculty members to deal with problems outside
their classrooms. I have worked with high schools, for example,
who had as many as forty hall monitors on salary only to find
out that this massive expenditure was to no avail. Hall monitors
simply became plainclothes Keystone Cops who provided the student
body with a new indoor sport while issuing pink slips that were
never processed in the office. Even the good students took great
delight in sneaking past the hall monitors to get to their lockers
that were off limits during their lunch breaks. At this same
school site I saw, as mentioned earlier, teachers bounce students
out of their classrooms for misconduct and then, minutes later,
open their doors to criticize the hall monitor for the noise
being made by the kids they had just bounced.
At another school site the faculty fretted about profanity
toward faculty members and the riding of bicycles and skateboards
on campus when, in fact, almost nobody was willing to come out
of the classroom to do anything about it. They wanted a foolproof
school policy-namely, a back-up system that would give the kids
a good reason to shape up. Harsh measures were proposed which
were always strangely separated from any meaningful system of
supervision and accountability. The predictable result, I attempted
to point out, would be an increasing number of suspensions with
no noticeable impact on student behavior.
When faculty -administrative cohesiveness deteriorates past
a certain point, the few teachers who are willing to take responsibility
for school-site management are finally made to feel like fools.
"Why should I be the only one to bust my behind around
here when no one else cares?" is a common complaint of
the effective teacher. Or, as one disillusioned teacher confided:
"I quit caring when I found a student vandalizing a drinking
fountain one day while I was walking to the office during my
break. I stopped to deal with the incident. It was obviously
vandalism because the drinking fountain was halfway out of the
wall and the kid was giving me lip. The vice principal walked
around the corner, looked at me, and just kept walking. I thought
to myself, 'What do you need, a neon sign on the wall that flashes
the word dummy'. That's the last time I ever personally intervened
in a discipline situation outside of my classroom. If the administration
can pretend that they don't see, so can I. I'm not going to
be the only one out on a limb."
If the planning and time commitment necessary for effective
school-site discipline management strike the faculty as outrageous,
chances are that this very perception is a clear-cut symptom
of the low faculty morale that comes from poor school-site leadership.
Sometimes we simply have to acknowledge that a social institution
is moribund. It will not change without a massive infusion of
The Logistics of Success All the plans and good intentions
in the world will eventually fail if they are at cross purposes
with logistical realities. A great many high school districts,
for example, have negotiated themselves into a six-period day
with five teaching periods and one prep period. What seemed
to slip away without anyone's noticing it was a duty period
in the teacher's schedule which provides the manpower for school-site
discipline management. Teachers often regard this as some kind
of negotiated victory, whereas it usually represents their having
shot themselves in the foot. If the school district hires outside
personnel to man the cafeterias and halls, the money siphoned
away for such salaries will be unavailable for teachers' salaries.
And, if additional personnel are not hired, the school goes
unmanaged and deteriorates into a depressing place to work.
Added to this, adequate administrative staff to coordinate the
supervisory effort has also been cut by many school boards in
the belief that somehow a school site with over 1000 young people
and tens of thousands of square feet can be managed by two or
Where there is no manpower there is no management, and where
there is no time there is no management. If local educators
and school boards express their priorities through such self-defeating
scheduling and staffing procedures, then they may as well also
recognize that effective schools are for them simply not worth
The more that I have examined and compared the school-site
management policies of effective schools, the more impressed
I have become by how simple, clear, straightforward, and similar
they all are. There is no quick cure or free lunch through policy
or mandate. There is no discipline code or increase in the severity
of punishment that can bring order out of chaos. Nor is there
any substitute for faculty cohesiveness and shared responsibility
in the business of operating every aspect of school-site life.
Rather, there is the unavoidable necessity of clear, sensible
plans conscientiously carried out.
In the language of operant conditioning, effective school-site
discipline management procedures are primarily a matter of stimulus
control rather than contingency management. It focuses on structure
versus consequences, prevention versus remediation, effective
procedure versus crisis response, faculty cohesion versus edict.
It views policy as proper process rather than ultimate consequences.
Effective school-site discipline management, therefore, is one
of the most important ways in which a school site systematically
avoids the built-in shortcomings and abuses of its own back-up
system so carefully described in the preceding three chapters.
It is the principal's and vice principal's contribution to their
own job satisfaction-the chance to get out of the crisis mode
Most effective school-site management procedures are direct
analogs of classroom management procedures. The principal's
role is highly analogous to the teacher's role in the clarification
of expectations with their faculty, the continual supervision
of the faculty, and the follow through that is needed to make
rules into realities. The principal is, in effect, the teacher
of teachers when it comes to school-site discipline management.
The specific skills of management are also analogous from classroom
to school site. The most common management technique is limit-setting
on the wing-an adult presence which constantly monitors student
performance and unobtrusively enforces rules through management
by walking around (MBWA). Most effect school-site management,
like most effective classroom management, is low key, unobtrusive,
warm, personal, and continuous-a by-product of the physical
proximity, accountability, and relationship building that comes
from effective supervision.
The use of incentive systems on a school-wide basis, however,
is in its infancy relative to its use in the classroom. There
is a scanty research literature on school-site incentives for
such things as attendance, picking up trash, noise in the cafeteria,
etc. But the state of the art would have to be categorized as
rudimentary. The development of incentives for use in large
group gatherings will, it is hoped, develop in coming years
so that it approaches the cost efficiency of responsibility
training in the classroom.