4 Guided Reflections for Improving and Managing Classroom Discipline


When I was teaching, I would take time to reflect in different ways throughout the year. For example, at the beginning of the school year, I would conduct a 30 day check-in on my classroom structure, activities and policies. I would do so again halfway through the year, at the start of our spring semester and at the year’s end. This gave me permission to adjust my practice and be responsive to the needs of my students.

Taking the time to ask strategic questions and focus on areas of growth and improvement for our students is important. It informs our decisions and creates a process for analysis and change. Reflective teaching can also be informed by policy changes and external factors like culture and political climates. Currently, there are many questions around antiracist work and efforts to better support Black and Latinx youth. 

→ Read the 5 Essential Steps for Building a Trauma-Informed School

Discipline is one area that has disproportionate outcomes for Black and Latinx students. I encourage teachers to pay attention to their classroom rules, policies and outcomes as a way to find positive ways to change classroom culture. For instance, some teachers are using PBIS to reduce discipline referrals.

Find the time to reflect on your current classroom discipline system. With the information from reflecting on your teaching strategies, you can adjust your practice and policies. 

4 Guided Teacher Reflections for Improving and Managing Classroom Discipline 

Carve out time in your schedule to reflect on discipline in your classroom using the questions below as prompts.

 Classroom Expectations

How do I communicate expectations to students? Does everyone in our classroom community understand the classroom rules? What language do I use to describe the outcomes when students do not meet classroom expectations? Does the discipline response match the behavior? 

What’s Next: After taking some time to reflect with these questions, connect with other classroom teachers to review your ideas about managing your classroom expectations. If you have ideas about changes and ways to improve the classroom culture, consider developing a classroom management plan

 Checks and Balances

What do I understand about the impact of trauma on student behavior? Did I offer the time and space for behavior correction before responding with a consequence? What other questions can I ask to better understand a student’s behavior choice?

What’s Next: If you are able to review your current systems and find that there are some gaps in implementation research, seek out tools to help you manage your system. For example, Kickboard offers a Student Behavior Point Tracker.  

 Behavior Management Systems

What are the current tools or systems I use to monitor behavior? What behaviors do I want to see and are there examples or opportunities to articulate that? Do my current systems have unintended consequences that may cause harm or shame to students? How often do I rely on discipline to encourage behavior rather than celebrating positive behaviors? Are my systems consistent with school policies?

What’s Next: Changing the culture around behavior takes a consistent practice. This set of reflection questions should encourage you to connect with administration to review schoolwide policies as well. School administration could provide insight on schoolwide initiatives connected to shifting school behavior and culture. Question whether or not your school has positive behavioral interventions and supports in the school. This will help you to evolve your classroom plan.

 Student and Classroom Data Collection

Do I have data on my classroom discipline? Is there any evidence of disproportionality in the data I collect? Are there gender, race/ethnic, or ability differences in who gets disciplined and who does not? Who can serve as an accountability partner when I am reviewing my discipline data?

What’s Next: If your school has a system for collecting student-behavior data (like Kickboard!), request to see schoolwide data in comparison to your classroom data. Breakdown the data across student demographics, and types of behavior and think critically about what consequences were connected. As you begin to gather information check-in with your school’s data team to review any trends or themes. Share this information with leadership as a way to hold yourself and the school accountable to best serving students. This insight could ultimately inform school norms and policies.

These guided prompts can help to process what discipline looks like in your classroom. As you move through each set of questions, take notes and revisit your responses. To hold yourself accountable, think about one area you can work on as a result of your reflective teaching and implement a new practice. To further extend how these writing prompts can inform your model, think about ways to connect your ideas about changes to existing classroom systems and practices.