STEM is a Positive Discipline School. Positive Discipline works to develop mutually respectful relationships. Positive Discipline teaches adults to employ kindness and firmness at the same time, and is neither punitive nor permissive. The tools and concepts of Positive Discipline include:
- Mutual respect. Adults model firmness by respecting themselves and the needs of the situation, and kindness by respecting the needs of the child.
- Identifying the belief behind the behavior. Effective discipline recognizes the reasons kids do what they do and works to change those beliefs, rather than merely attempting to change behavior.
- Effective communication and problem solving skills.
- Discipline that teaches (and is neither permissive nor punitive).
- Focusing on solutions instead of punishment.
- Encouragement (instead of praise). Encouragement notices effort and improvement, not just success, and builds long-term self-esteem and empowerment..
Teachers use Positive Discipline techniques to create democratic classrooms where students actively participate in making decisions and solving problems together. A class meeting process helps students build community, discuss choices, and provide input into what happens in their classroom. This process fosters student responsibility and ownership of their educational experience.
Class meetings are also used to address concerns and student behavior issues. The meeting provides a safe and orderly system for students to talk about problems, describe how they are affected, and generate possible solutions. In the process, students learn self-control and problem solving skills, including listening, negotiation and empathy.
Addressing Misguided Student Behavior
Positive discipline views student behavior as purposeful—children act to fulfill basic needs around belonging and significance. Behavior problems are seen as opportunities to teach students important life skills. When students misbehave, adults need to figure why students are “acting out,” and teach them positive ways to meet their needs.
Consequences for unsafe and disruptive behavior strive to support problem solving and student growth. When a student’s actions are unsafe or interfere with learning, staff respond with feedback, opportunities to problem-solve, and support to implement solutions. Strategies such as taking a positive time out, using a problem solving wheel, or engaging in a class meeting discussion, or making an agreement are common. Coaching helps students to identify the needs or goals that motivate their behavior, and empower them to make better choices. The consequences and coaching provided to students who misbehave depend on the situation.