Assertive Discipline Approach of Behaviour Management

Assertive Discipline Approach of Behaviour Management

15410 views | Veronica | 24-02-2021

Assertive discipline is a systematic and structured approach that assists educators to run an organised, teacher-in-charge classroom environment, developed by Lee and Marlene Canter in the 1970s.  Due to the undesirable behaviour of students occurring in classrooms and teachers not being able to control it. Canter identified a lack of training in the behaviour management area in a classroom setting. They developed an easy-to-learn approach to help teachers in becoming captains of their classrooms.

The approach has evolved from an authoritarian approach to a cooperative and rather democratic approach. According to Canter, teachers have all the right to determine what is best for students and to create an efficient and effective learning environment.

Assertive teachers are far more confident in their approach and situations that require student behaviour management

The teachers act strategically and give firm and clear direction to their students who need guidance in observing rules. Assertive teachers are quite particular about keeping up with a teacher-in-charge classroom that is in the best of students’ interests.

Furthermore, Canter emphasised the importance of behaviour management as society demands appropriate behaviour to become successful. No one gains any benefit from misbehaving and so not only teachers but parents and educators too shall request and expect assistance from each other to maintain positive behaviour. The method is clear and firm in its direction and shall be followed by positive reinforcement or negative consequences in case of undesired behaviour. Expectations from students are clear, they are expected to cooperate with others and teachers who have implemented this method agree with how easy the method is for the long term. Having the ability to be assertive is key to this method. 

Key features of the theory

Classroom rules

According to the theory, well-behaved students have the right to learn in a classroom without any distraction. Whereas, a teacher must discipline students who behave poorly. Students shall also be assigned to a teacher who is knowledgeable and polite, who has their student’s best interest at heart. Similarly, teachers have the right to teach in a peaceful environment like other professionals. They also deserve support and care from the administration and the parents as well. Clear boundaries must be set between teachers and students, a teacher must also develop a clear discipline plan that differentiates between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. Positive reinforcement shall be practised by noticing students who are behaving well and provide rewards and praise to them for their positive behaviour. Adding to positive reinforcement, positive repetition involves publicly acknowledging behaviours that are positive. Restating rules is also a healthy approach to encourage positive behaviour and practice assertive discipline. Rules must be backed by firm consequences written in advance on the discipline plan so that students learn the importance and seriousness of having rules. It is always better to have proactive discipline where poor behaviour is anticipated backed by a plan to avoid it. Instead of reactive discipline where you wait until a student misbehaves and then you apply a disciplinary response to the behaviour. It is important to build relationships with students. Assertive discipline theory places a strong emphasis on ‘trust’. It is easier to achieve discipline when students trust and respect their teacher. 

Examples of Assertive Discipline
  1. Discipline hierarchy: starting with small disciplinary actions such as warnings, and if students continue to break rules the severity of action increases. Teachers shall have a hierarchy written down in their discipline plan and students should be aware of it in advance such as having a discussion in the first academic week for ‘class ground rules'. 
  2. Discipline plans: Canters had the idea that discipline plans are an absolute must for classrooms. Teachers shall present these plans to students and parents at the very start of the academic year. The plan contains class rules list, positive recognition they shall provide to students as part of their teaching strategy, corrective actions that can be taken and a severity clause in case of any violation with rules.
  3. Regular procedures of the classroom: there are strategies educators take into account to help keep control of the class. Examples are direct instruction on how to enter a classroom, asking questions and understanding the technique. Gestures can also be utilised to communicate with students. It is advised to regularly look around the classroom to have a bird’s eye view of what happens around. As students feel your presence, it reminds them you are watching over their behaviour.

Managing classroom behaviour requires concentration, patience and practice to apply theory to practice and learn the great benefits of managing the classroom to achieve a positive learning environment. Teachers must innovate and come up with a plan of action that works well for them and their students. Creating a positive learning environment will give educators a sense of achievement while being assertive in actions and thoughts. Our Level 3 AET course trains the teacher to carry out their duties in the best possible way. Classroom management is a CPD course offered by ELN.


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