Using Data to Analyze Discipline

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The urgency and intensity of discipline events can leave us moving quickly from one student and circumstance to another without fully understanding the nature, sources, and causes of the situations we are attempting to respond to. Yet, gaining reasonable control, identifying the source of discipline problems, and finding ways to improve current approaches and strategies demand that we understand as thoroughly as possible all aspects of the behaviors we are attempting to address.

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Here are three strategies that utilize data to help you gain a better understanding of the discipline circumstances you face, identify potential causes, and develop effective responses:

Strategy One: Categorize discipline situations on the basis of how the misbehavior is affecting the learning environment:

  1. A student’s behavior is interfering with his or her ability to relate productively with others and gain maximum benefit from the learning environment.
  2. A student’s behavior is interfering with the ability of others to engage productively in the learning environment.
  3. A student’s behavior threatens the health and safety of the student and/or others.

Categorizing behaviors and then tracking incidents over time can assist your understanding of where to place your resources. It also can tell you whether the discipline problems you are dealing with need the immediate and serious attention demanded by threats to health and safety or if they call for a more measured approach to providing a positive learning environment for all students. You also may find that simply helping students manage their behavior so that they gain maximum benefit from their time in school is what is needed. Tweet this

Strategy Two: Categorize discipline incidents by time of occurrence: Before school, during classes, or during the lunch hour and after school.

Examining the nature and frequency of misbehavior during times throughout the day can help you allocate supervisory resources and examine conditions that might be leading to student discipline related activities. Further, analyzing discipline-related data by time of occurrence can help you understand where you might be making progress and where more attention is needed.

Strategy Three: Categorize discipline referrals by the teacher making the referral and the reason.

This strategy will help you identify which teachers need additional training and support to deal more effectively with the behavior of their students and which do not. Further, rather than exhorting the entire staff to become more effective disciplinarians, you can focus resources and support on those who need it most.

The types of referrals you receive can provide valuable information regarding areas in which teachers may need more training and behavior change in order to relate more effectively and manage more skillfully the behaviors of students in their class. Do not be surprised if you find that 80% or more of your discipline referrals come from 20% or fewer of your staff members. You may be able to generate a list of the names of people who will fall in this category without collecting data. However, by documenting the frequency and nature of referrals, you will be in a much better position to begin a discussion regarding improvement and provide guidance and support for skill building where it will make the greatest difference.

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