Discipline With Purpose

Discipline With Purpose

Early Beginnings:

In 1978 Dr. Laurel Tanner, then Professor of Urban Education at Temple University published Classroom Discipline. She challenged educators to put the SELF back into discussion regarding discipline. Twelve principles were suggested as guidelines for parents and educators to use in rethinking their roles as disciplinarians. Two educators, Barbara Vasiloff and Paula Lenz, who had over 20 years teaching experience on all grade levels decided to take up the challenge and put Dr. Tanner’s theory into practice.

Five of the 12 principles were used as the new starting point to develop the DISCIPLINE WITH PURPOSE PROGRAM. The five principles are:

  1. The aims of education and classroom discipline are the same; to help children and youth become self-directing people.
  2. Discipline and inseparable from teaching.
  3. Discipline should change with a person’s stage of development and help them move to the next stage.
  4. Appropriate behavior is determined by the rational demands of specific situations.
  5. Ways of dealing with misbehavior should agree with developmental goals.

A sixth and major principle was key to developing Discipline with Purpose.

6. A hierarchy of skills can be identified and coordinated with a person’s growth and development to provide an objective standard to define self-disciplined behavior.

The fifteen Self-Discipline Skills identified in the Discipline With Purpose Program are the following:

  1. Listening
  2. Following Instructions
  3. Questioning
  4. Sharing: Time, Space, People, Things
  5. Interacting Socially
  6. Cooperating with others
  7. Understanding rules and the reason for rules
  8. Figuring out how to accomplish tasks
  9. Exhibiting leadership
  10. Communicating effectively
  11. Organizing: Time, Space, People, Things
  12. Resolving Mutual Problems
  13. Taking the initiative in problem solving
  14. Distinguishing fact from feeling
  15. Sacrificing for /Serving others

The skills are grouped into three categories. While children of all ages can be taught something about all fifteen skills, during some phases of a child’s development it is best to focus on certain skills.

The first five skills are called Basic Skills. They are difficult for children in Kindergarten through the end of grade three to demonstrate on their own without help. The symbol for the Basic Skills is a handshake. It reminds us that people need people in order to get along in an institutional environment. This is a very important lesson. People belong to many different institutions in their lifetime and must learn to follow directions and instructions from others.

Around the age of 9 or 10, children can also learn another important lesson-how to live in a democratic environment. The second five self-discipline skills are called the Constructive Skills. Children in grades 4-7 are developmentally ready to learn these five skills.

Five additional skills are learned from grades 8-high school, but can me introduced in middle school. The last five skills are called Generative Skills. The demonstration of generative skills requires a more comprehensive world view. People are motivated to demonstrate these high level skills when the needs of others can be recognized and are considered .


Based on the “Discipline With Purpose” Program

Occasionally removal from the group is necessary to protect a student and/or the learning environment of the school. This is necessary when a student:

  • Is in physical or psychological danger or puts another in
  • Is irrational or unreasonable.
  • Pushes beyond the limits of respect in speech or actions.
  • Does not gain self-control after repeated correction from an adult.

If possible, the adult who removes the child will work quickly to help the student regain self-control. If this happens, the two parties can continue to work together to redirect the inappropriate behavior. If regaining control does not happen, the student will be sent to the principal’s office and a four set Discipline Plan will be set in motion.

STEP ONE: The student will be sent to the office with a Referral form. The top half will be completed by the adult who is sending the child to the office.

  1. The student will meet with the principal.
  2. Together they will complete the bottom half of the referral form.
  3. The referral form will be sent home to be signed and returned by a parent(s).
  4. The student will be held accountable for the plan developed.
  5. The principal will speak with the referring staff member.

 STEP TWO: The student will be sent to the principal if a second incident occurs within a two month period.

  1. The student will meet with the principal.
  2. The student will receive a new referral form and notify
    parent(s) by phone or note.
  3. A conference with the teacher, parent(s), student and principal will be scheduled.
  4. A Discipline Service Plan will be drawn up.
  5. The Discipline Service Plan will be reviewed with the
    parent(s) and signed by all.

STEP THREE: If a third incident occurs within a two month period or in extreme cases when the principal determines the seriousness of the action warrants starting at Step Three, the student is sent to the office with a Referral form.

  1. The student meets with the principal.
  2. The student notifies the parent(s) that a suspension of up to three days has been earned. The length, type, in-school or out-of-school, will be determined by the principal.
  3. A conference will be held with the parent(s), teacher(s), student and principal to write a Discipline Service Plan, if one does not exist, with a measurement for progress to assist the student in developing self-control.
  4. A recommendation may be made to have the family visit with a counselor or other specialist.
  5. All school work missed during the period of suspension must be completed before the student rejoins the class.
  6. A probationary time period to monitor and review progress will be set once the student is ready to return.

Note: Step three can be repeated as long as a student is able to demonstrate that progress is being made, and is willing to contribute to a positive learning environment. When little or no change is evident and school personnel have exhausted all available means to effect change, the student will move to Step Four of the plan.

STEP FOUR: The administrator will use the district’s police only when all other means of disciplinary actions have failed and the student’s conduct is a hindrance to the welfare and progress of the school community and/or there is evidence of repeated disregard for the philosophy, policies, rules, and regulations of the school.

Serious infractions such as possession of drugs or weapons or
severe physical or moral misconduct could result in an immediate move to Step Four of this plan.