Behavior Model Part I: Three Variables


Behavior Model Series

Part One: Every Discipline Problem Has Three Variables

There are three variables in every discipline situation: the misbehaving student, the class, and the teacher. Unless a teacher can control his or her own behavior, all three factors remain variables—and chaos is the predictable result.

Discipline problems will always exist. However, they can be minimized. They can be managed quickly and effectively. That’s why it’s important and necessary that we continually upgrade and improve our ability to cope with them in a professional and successful way.

In discipline situations, teacher approach and attitude are paramount. Many teachers think a misbehaving student should admit wrongdoing immediately, apologize, and never demonstrate that particular behavior again. Even if this is not what we think, our behavior and action in discipline situations would tend to make one believe it to be true. To be an effective disciplinarian, the teacher must become the primary adjuster. That’s a fact. A teacher can be successful in getting students to adjust their behavior only by first adjusting his or her own.

Every classroom discipline problem has at least three variables: the teacher, the problem student, and the rest of the class. All these variables are interrelated and affect each other—in both the present and future senses. Equally important, each remains a variable until teacher adjustment makes it controllable. If you will think about it for a moment, common sense will reveal that there is only one of the three variables that a teacher can always control immediately; that variable is themselves.

If a problem arises—even if it’s the umpteenth time—and the teacher explodes, what is the result? The problem has been made worse. All three variables remain, and the one which should be controlled first, the professional teacher, appears to be the one most out of control. Remember, if the teacher reacts as a controlled variable, then chances are the rest of the class will automatically become a controlled variable, too. That leaves only the discipline problem to deal with rather than the entire class.

Remember, there are three variables present in every discipline situation. The first controllable variable is you.

If you take misbehavior personally and react personally, you will become part of the problem.

This blog post is excerpted from the book Before You Can Discipline.

What has helped you resolve difficult classroom discipline situations? Share your experiences below!


  1. Pingback: Behavior Model Part II: The Seven Primary Needs – The Master Teacher Blog

  2. Cas Macsisak

    I completely agree that the behavior and attitude of the teacher influence the behaviors and attitudes of their students. The more consistent and controlled the teacher is, the more consistent and controlled the students are. This is crucial to keep in mind, especially in circumstances where I am handling a discipline problem. If I remain calm this sets the example for the student as to what kind of behavior I expect from them.

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