It is probably an understatement to say that discipline is on the minds of many teachers. As noted by J. Ron Nelson, Ron Martella, and Benita Galand (1998), the annual Gallup poll of the public's attitude toward public schools consistently identifies the lack of discipline as the most serious problem facing schools today. Although the research by Gallup addresses discipline at the school level, it is the individual classroom teacher who is the first line of defense for discipline problems. One very disturbing finding from the research is that teachers generally believe that they are not only unprepared to deal with disruptive behavior, but the amount of disruptive behavior in their classes substantially interferes with their teaching (Furlong, Morrison, & Dear, 1994; Lowry, Sleet, Duncan, Powell, & Kolbe, 1995). Cotton (1990) has estimated that only about half of all classroom time is used for instruction, and disciplinary problems occupy most of the other half.
Before discussing this further, it is important to point out that addressing discipline problems is not the sole responsibility of the individual classroom teacher. As discussed in Chapter 8, effective discipline is a combination of effective management at the school level and effective management at the classroom level. In this chapter we address the disciplinary interventions an individual classroom teacher can use. In more specific terms, we address the strategies teachers can use when students do not follow the rules and procedures that have been established as described in Chapter 2.
Some people appear to believe that disciplinary actions in almost any form are not only ineffective but counterproductive in terms of student behavior and achievement. Alfie Kohn, for example, has articulated this sentiment in