Consequences for misbehaviour

I attended primary and high school in the Eastern Cape. I remember receiving jacks from teachers and administrators until Grade 10. Not many smacks, but enough to recall a few. I remember our biology teacher once spanking the entire class, one at a time, in her storage closet.
After high school I moved to Texas for my undergraduate and graduate degrees in educational leadership and principal certification. I worked in U.S. schools, public and private, low-income and upper-income, for eight years and have now worked in China schools for four years. Each time I have visited South Africa over the past 16 years, a question is often asked, "How do you discipline students in America (and Asia)?"
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Here are several practice-proven techniques I have used when dealing with misbehaving students (I plan to do a follow-up piece on school discipline, emphasizing the importance of a positive and productive relationship between a chronically misbehaving student and a teacher/s):
  • Practice academies. Used when students need to end a bad habit. Students essentially practice a positive habit in a very controlled environment. Practice academies work especially well with ADHD students.
  • Detentions. These are not for students to get a head start on homework or for non-behavior-changing-activities like writing lines. Students work on completing behavior reflection forms, writing essays addressing poor behavior and any ideas for improvement. After the detention, responses are discussed further and action plans developed.
  • Loss of privilege. See examples at the end of this post.
  • Individual Behavior Plan (IBP). A parent, teacher and the student collaboratively develop a plan that includes desired behaviors and expected outcomes. Can be designed as simple or as complicated as desired or needed.
  • In-School Suspension (ISS). One to three days. Student works in office area on busy work. Out-of-school suspension tends to have more disadvantages than advantages.
  • In-School Alternative School Program. Long-term, two to six week program. Students receive normal curriculum with instruction in a location that separates them from their regular classmates. I helped coordinate a program like this in a low-income Texas public school.
  • Expulsion. The absolute last resort, when all options have been exhausted.
  • Saturday morning work-around-the-school-grounds, supervised by a teacher or administrator. Teacher or administrator creatively design it as a win-lose situation. I usually read a favorite book as I supervise the student.
  • Homework Clubfor children having trouble finishing homework. Long-term program for students to focus on work habits and studying skills. After school, one to three nights a week for two to six weeks, depending on rate of student progress. Parent or guardian also attends and receives training on how to support child at home. 
  • Logical consequences. You break it, you fix it (or replace it). You make a mess (i.e., vandalism), you clean it up or organize repainting. You run in the hall, you walk back to the end of the hallway and re-walk it. "A student wastes class time talking to a friend, looking out the window, trying to avoid the task. He makes up the time at another point during the day” ( 
  • Academic Seminars for cheating and plagiarism. After school session covering what cheating and plagiarism looks like (practical examples) and why it should be avoided. Small accountability quiz at end.

This is in no way an exhaustive list of discipline techniques. What other consequences or techniques have you found useful in schools? 
Loss of privilege examples from
  • A student waves scissors around. She loses the use of the scissors for the remainder of the art period.
  • Two children talk instead of working. They have to sit by themselves.
  • A child rocks his chair or sits way back in his chair. He sits on the floor or stands for the remainder of the lesson or activity.
  • A student plays unsafely on an outdoor structure. She has to choose a different area of the playground to use during the rest of that recess.
  • A student speaks rudely to the teacher. The teacher refuses to listen to her until she changes her tone of voice.
  • A student rolls his eyes or calls out during a morning meeting. He has to leave the group.
  • A student fools around on line. She has to walk with the teacher.
  • A student logs on to an acceptable Web site while doing research. He loses computer time for the rest of the period (or week).
  • Students go to the bathroom to gossip about classmates. They lose the privilege of going to the bathroom together or without an adult for the next couple of days.

Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours.
Proudly South African,
    Wayne Russell    Educator    Shanghai, China     Tweeting @GlobalEdNow
Nobby Poltice 2014/08/01 11:48:18 AM
Too complicated if you have a class of 30. I was caned at school for misbehaviour. It worked like a charm and taught you the most important lesson - never get caught!
NormalCitizen 2014/08/01 12:10:26 PM
You don't have to make tht list so long. Here is mine; 1. Have strict parents. My father would "moer" the living daylights out of me. Yes it may sound cruel , but I stayed away from bad things , coz the old man would punish me if I brought shame on the family name. After following the disciplined path forcefully , I started to notice that my "good" actions brought nice ppl that I could rely and built trust with , into my life. Been following the disciplined route ever since.
Wynie le Roux 2014/08/01 12:25:41 PM
What a load of BULL! If you're naughty, bend over for three or so lick from the cane. It worked for generations before me, it worked for me, so why can it not work now? After the second or third time you receive punishment, you suddenly become one of the better behaved kids in the class. Problem solved.
Edifis 2014/08/01 12:39:33 PM
Wayne, you sound like a very tolerant patient person. I personally feel that there is a point sometimes reached when a student simply requires 6 of the best. I had same a few times at school and I came to the realization afterwards that I deserved every painful encounter.
Guy M Artist 2014/08/01 12:59:27 PM
I much preferred the cane to the detention, and at one time was receiving 2 - 4 cuts a day, Being rebellious was hell
Saffa in East Asia 2014/08/01 01:17:45 PM
I teach in Asia and you are not allowed to do any of those things you suggested. Kids can do what they like and there is nothing you can do to them. Luckily for me, I teach Elementary and the kids are well-behaved with me, mainly because I am the only foreigner in the school and for some reason they really love me. If there was a kid or two that misbehaved and didn't respond to me tone of voice I would be stuck up the creek without a paddle because there is no discipline structure here at all.
Cindy Meyer 2014/08/01 01:22:44 PM
Excellent Wayne. There are many ways to discipline a child. Hitting them is not discipline - it is abuse - and teaches them that violence is the answer to their problems.
Siebert Mazus 2014/08/01 02:54:35 PM
A caning or two on my bottom worked wonders for me. Today I'm very thankful for those 'hidings' I recieved. Taught me a lot.
mantlekilo 2014/08/01 03:44:10 PM
It is no co-incidence that the severe rot settled in when and wherever corporal punishment was abolished. The simple truth is that every single one of us is different, we are 'unequal'. 70-90% of the younger generation will most likely respond to 'not-corporeal' attitude/behavioural adjustments....but 1-30% will probably not and it is this minority that will experience the benefits of learning 'the hard way'. Tell a toddler not to put his hand in the fire and you are giving him a chance to ........'learn from the burn'.....or if you really care about them a corrective smack is the equivalent. The rot is there to see.....defy natures ways and it's not going to end well.