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Establishing Student-Centered Discipline Practices that Promote SEL

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Rae Merrigan, Jakarta Intercultural School

In a safe and supportive classroom climate, where students feel that they belong, disruptive behaviours are less likely to occur. When conflicts or problems do arise, student-centered discipline practices that promote SEL allow students to learn, problem-solve and take ownership of their actions. Find out more about establishing student-centered discipline practices that promote SEL from CASEL

An example of conflict resolution tips from Brainpop video Conflict Resolution

1. Help students understand their impact on others 

A safe and supportive classroom environment is the perfect place for students to practice building empathy, problem-solving misunderstandings, and resolving conflicts. Conflicts may emerge when you least expect it, but having some conflict resolution strategies in your toolbox can turn a potential disruption into a powerful teachable moment. 

I-statements are a simple yet effective way to teach students how to communicate assertively and respectfully. They allow students to express their own feelings and experiences, without assigning blame or making someone feel defensive. Whether at the beginning of the year, in the moment, or in an advisory class, students need to be explicitly taught how to manage conflict and communicate assertively. Role-plays or scenarios can help students practice these communication skills in a low-stakes environment so that when conflicts do arise, students will be more prepared to handle them themselves. For elementary or middle school students, Brainpop has a great video on conflict resolution.

Students were then given scenarios of common conflicts that happen in our school community. Students were practising using assertive communication and I-statements to resolve conflicts. Credit: BrainPOP

2. Provide strategies for students to self-regulate their behavior and emotions

When emotions run high, how do you help students recognize and regulate their emotions? There are lots of evidence-based strategies that can help students pause, recognize and name what they are feeling, and employ strategies to return to a preferred emotional state. One popular tool is the Zones of Regulation where emotions are categorized into four colour zones, giving students a common language to identify emotions and tools to help them regulate.

Elementary classrooms might provide a “Peace Corner” where students can go to calm down and think about a problem. Middle or high school students might be encouraged to take a brain break or go for a quick walk to help clear their minds. Emotional check-ins are a great way to begin the week or the day. They help students build their emotional vocabulary, recognize that emotions come and go, and be aware that their classmates might be experiencing something different to them. Mindful breathing practices work at all ages and can require little to no preparation. 

An example check-in. Students can share a rose, thorn or bud, all three or whatever they feel comfortable with. Students always have the right to pass if they don’t want to participate that day.

Whatever class and age you teach, you can always work on building respectful, trusting relationships with your students to create an environment where everyone feels valued and ready to learn.  As students move between classrooms, it helps to have a common language and aligned practices to reinforce social and emotional learning as a whole school approach.

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Rae Merrigan, Jakarta Intercultural School

Establishing Student-Centered Discipline Practices that Promote SEL

Rae Merrigan, Jakarta Intercultural School

Preschool

K-3

3 - 6

Middle School

High School

Adult

Establishing student-centered discipline practices reduce disruptive behaviors and empower students to handle conflicts through assertive communication and emotion regulation strategies creating an environment where everyone feels valued and ready to learn.

Learn More

Establishing Student-Centered Discipline Practices that Promote SEL

Rae Merrigan, Jakarta Intercultural School

Preschool

K-3

3 - 6

Middle School

High School

Adult

Establishing student-centered discipline practices reduce disruptive behaviors and empower students to handle conflicts through assertive communication and emotion regulation strategies creating an environment where everyone feels valued and ready to learn.

Learn More

Establishing Student-Centered Discipline Practices that Promote SEL

Rae Merrigan, Jakarta Intercultural School

Website

Article

Podcast

Book

PDF

Research

Video

Preschool

K-3

3 - 6

Middle School

High School

Adult

Establishing student-centered discipline practices reduce disruptive behaviors and empower students to handle conflicts through assertive communication and emotion regulation strategies creating an environment where everyone feels valued and ready to learn.

See More
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