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Discipline with Dignity. Richard L. Curwin Allen N. Mendler. “We decided to develop our own set of procedures that took the best of all discipline programs, while avoiding the pitfalls of most”. Three Dimensional Discipline. Prevention-what can be done to prevent problems

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discipline with dignity

Discipline with Dignity

Richard L. Curwin

Allen N. Mendler


“We decided to develop our own set of procedures that took the best of all discipline programs, while avoiding the pitfalls of most”

three dimensional discipline
Three Dimensional Discipline
  • Prevention-what can be done to prevent problems
  • Action-what can be done when misbehavior occurs to solve the problem without making it worse
  • Resolution- what can be done for the out-of-control student
foundation of the program
Foundation of the Program
  • Let students know what you need
  • Provide instruction at levels that match the student’s ability
  • Listen to thoughts and feelings
  • Use humor
  • Vary your style of presentation
  • Offer choices
  • Do not accept excuses
  • Legitimize misbehavior that you cannot stop
  • Use hugs and touching when communicating
  • Be responsible for yourself and allow kids to take responsibility for themselves
  • Realize and accept that you will not reach every child
  • Start fresh everyday
the book will help teachers
The Book Will Help Teachers…
  • Develop a discipline plan
  • Stop misbehavior without attacking students dignity
  • Resolve problems with chronic disrupters
  • Reduce stress
  • Use special guidelines for rules and consequences that work
causes of misbehavior
Causes of Misbehavior

Out of School

  • Violence
  • Media
  • “Me” Generation
  • Poor family environment
  • Temperament

In School

  • Boredom
  • Powerlessness
  • Unclear limits
  • Lack of outlets for feelings
  • Attacks on dignity
responsibility model improves teaching and learning performance
Responsibility ModelImproves teaching and learning performance

Main goal: teaches students to make responsible choices

Principle: to learn from the outcomes of decisions


  • Internal locus
  • Done by the students
  • Logical or natural
locus of control
Locus of Control
  • Internal
  • Example
    • Teacher: Johnny where is your homework?
    • Johnny: I didn’t do it.
  • External
  • Example
    • Teacher: Johnny where is your homework
    • Johnny: I did it but I left in in my jeans and my mom washed it. Now I don’t have it.
social contract
Social Contract
  • Includes
    • Classroom principles
    • Specific rules that are based on principles
    • A range of consequences for each rule
    • Student input
    • A test for student comprehension
    • Input from parents/administrators
    • Method of evaluation
    • A process for changes
logical consequences
Logical Consequences



Teaches the importance of not getting caught


Fear is the prime motivator

Punishments are for the person giving them

  • Clear
  • Specific
  • Alternatives or Range
  • Show students examples of fair but unequal situations
  • Are not punishments
  • Logical
  • Related to the rule
  • Help violator learn acceptable behavior
  • Instructional
1 do you have a discipline strategy if not what do you use in place of discipline
1. Do you have a discipline strategy? If not, what do you use in placeof discipline?

Yes. I use  basic 3 tiered system where students have clips on a stoplight chart.

I also have a classroom Popcorn Jar where we work towards adding "scoops" of popcorn for positive behavior or compliments in the school, etc..and when it's filled, students earn special things, such as a popcorn party, or movie, or bring a toy to school for recess, or bring a stuffed animal to sit on their desk for the day, etc...We have a school-wide program that's a very "prevention based" type of program called PBIS.  We do a lot of pre-teaching & prevention of behavior issues throughout the day, week & school year.  When students are caught being good, doing the right thing, making positive choices, etc., they can earn Panther Paws (small slips of paper w/ a paw on it.)  At the end of each month, we have a Prize Cart (small, movable school store) that students can spend their Panther Paws on. 


2. We read the book, "Discipline with Dignity," which is about a threedimensional discipline strategy that follows the process; prevention,action, and resolution. Do you think you follow this strategy?No, not that I'm aware of. (??) I'm not familiar with this strategy.


3. The book talks about having social contracts with the students. Doyou, or any teachers you know, implement this strategy?I don't use them in my classroom, but that we use something similar w/ PBIS as a school.  When students have Behavior Tickets (which are written out by any teacher in the school for students that are not making good choices), then they might have to meet w/ a teacher during their recess to discuss the behavior & complete a form about it, which is similar to a contract.  They rate themselves on what happened, how they were feeling when the incident occurred & what they can do to change it.


4. Where did you get your discipline strategy? Do you follow a certainone, or a book? Did you design it on your own?I'm actually not sure where I got it...I've tried numerous strategies in the past & these seem to work pretty well. I may try a different type of clip system after Christmas, but not sure yet...where there are more choices & focuses on positive behavior as well as only moving their clips for negative behavior.


5. Do you have any examples of where you have had to use discipline inyour classroom?Talking out, being disrespectful, not following directions, not making good choices, not being appropriate w/ friends, etc...


6. Do you have any advice for us as future teachers about classroommanagement?I would have a system in place when you start & I would be much more "strict" in the beginning of the year.  It's very important that the students know you're the teacher in control & you're the one who's in charge & then as they learn the expectations in the classroom & routine, you can always ease up later.  This may seem harsh & I would assume this may be handled differently at different schools, but we've had a lot of behavior problems over the past few years, so that's maybe a different mind set than another teacher might have at a different school.  We try to give our students a positive, safe, secure place where they feel comfortable & loved.  But with that, we also have high expectations regarding their behavior & the way they treat others.  I feel that I am constantly talking to my students about making good choices & pointing out great behavior in our class & honoring students for making good choices.  We constantly do "prevention" tactics, such as talking about how you walk down the hallway & keeping our hands to ourselves & how to deal w/ friends that are making poor choices, etc....I have conversations w/ my students all day long about these kinds of things....it takes ALOT of time & energy out of your day....but a lot of our students aren't learning these things at home so we kind of have an "extra" job of instilling these basic values at school as well.

  • Rule: All trash must be thrown away.
    • Pick you trash up
    • Apologize to the teacher
  • Rule: You must be in your seat by five minutes after the bell rings.
    • You are responsible for any information you missed
    • Go to the principals office and miss even more
  • Question: When students misbehave should I have them publicly apologize to either me, or the other students involved.
  • Answer: No because it cause embarrassment or anger
  • Question: In some classes, there is a lare percentage of disruptive children When they set the general tone for the class, how can you change the personality of the group?
  • Answer: Be flexible, don’t be afraid to abandon the lesson plan
discipline with dignity website
Discipline with Dignity Website
  • http://www.tlc-sems.com/discipline-with-dignity.aspx
further reading
Further Reading
  • Am I in Trouble? Using Discipline to Teach Young Children Responsibility. Suggestions for Parents, Teachers, and Other Care Providers for Children to Age 10.
    • Mendler and Curwin
  • Solving Discipline and Classroom Management Problems: Methods and Models for Today's Teachers. 6th Edition
    • Mendler and Curwin
  • Six Strategies for Helping Youth Move from Rage to Responsibility. 
    • Mendler and Curwin
  • Discipline with Dignity for Challenging Youth.
    • Mendler and Curwin
  • Beyond Discipline Survival
    • Mendler
  • What we think about this classroom management plan

Mendler, L. N. (1992). What do i do when--?, how to achieve

discipline with dignity in the classroom. Solution Tree.

Curwin, I. L., & Mendler, A. N. (1999). Discipline with dignity.

Assn for Supervision & Curriculum.

Mendler, A. N. Handling Difficult Parents. 2006.

Curwin, R. L., and A. N. Mendler. As Tough as

Necessary:Countering Violence, Aggression, and Hostility in

Our Schools. Association for Supervision & Curriculum Deve,

1997. Print.