Assertive discipline is a structured, systematic approach designed to assist educators in running an organized, teacher-in-charge classroom environment. To no one's surprise, Lee and Marlene Canter, when consulting for school systems, found that many teachers were unable to manage the undesirable behavior that occurred in their classrooms. The Cantors, rightfully so, attributed this finding to a lack of training in the area of behavior management. Based on their investigation and the foundations of assertiveness training and applied behavior analysis, they developed a common sense, easy-to-learn approach to help teachers become the captains of their classrooms and positively influence their students' behavior. Today, it is the most widely used "canned" (prepared/packaged) behavior management program in the world. Assertive discipline has evolved since the mid 70's from a rather authoritarian approach to one that is now more democratic and cooperative.
The Cantors believe that you, as the teacher, have the right to determine what is best for your students, and to expect compliance. No pupil should prevent you from teaching, or keep another student from learning. Student compliance is imperative in creating and maintaining an effective and efficient learning environment. To accomplish this goal, teachers must react assertively, as opposed to aggressively or non assertively.
Assertive teachers react confidently and quickly in situations that require the management of student behavior. They are supported by a few clearly stated classroom rules that have been explained, practiced, and enforced consistently. They give firm, clear, concise directions to students who are in need of outside guidance to help them behave appropriately. Students who comply are reinforced, whereas those who disobey rules and directions receive negative consequences. Assertive teachers do not view students as adversaries, nor do they use an abrasive, sarcastic, hostile style (as with "hostile" teachers). Neither do they react in a passive, inconsistent, timid, non-directive manner (as with "non-assertive" teachers).
Assertive teachers believe that a firm, teacher-in-charge classroom is in the best interests of students. They believe that the students wish to have the personal and psychological safety experienced when their teacher is highly competent in directing behavior. The Canters state that society demands appropriate behavior if one is to be accepted and successful. Therefore, no one benefits when a student is allowed to misbehave. The Canters say that teachers show their concern for today's youth when they demand and promote appropriate classroom behavior. Additionally, educators have the right to request and expect assistance from parents and administrators in their efforts. Assertive discipline provides strategies for gaining this support. For example, to gain the support of administration, write your rules, positive consequences, and a list of penalties. The list of negative consequences moves from official warning/cease-and-desist order, to removal from the classroom. In between are sequentially more punitive outcomes for failure to comply with the teacher direction. (You can find out more about setting up your classroom management plant inside the "Free podcasts & videos" button on the home page of BehaviorAdvisor.com Scroll down to "Setting up your classroom management system)
Once you have your written document, schedule an appointment with the person in charge of discipline (Dean of Students, Assistant Principal). Present your plan. If it receives a positive review, say "Thank you", and mention that the step that follows the last one on your list is a visit to "the office". If the administrator backs off from the support for your plan, ask what needs to be done to gain his/her backup to your plan. Work together to create a system in which you do your best to