Graduation day

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As a librarian, there are certain moments that stick with me. When one of my students unexpectedly gave me a mutinous look, I knew it was the start of one of them.

Jessica Alba has seen her share of classroom tumult.

What does Robertson-Eletto offer instead? “It might sound soft and fluffy, but when you approach students with a focus on respect and dignity, there just are no discipline issues. They will do whatever you ask them to do,” she says.

She’s not alone. There is a growing consensus among experts in the field that teachers who take the time to build stronger relationships with their students can markedly reduce the classroom disruptions that too often mar the school day. This approach can also make teachers more effective in dealing with any acting-out behaviors that do occur.

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Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba has seen her share of classroom tumult.

“I’ve taught in a school where I had to pat a girl down every day because she was stealing things and bringing things to school that she wasn’t supposed to have. I’ve had a first-grader who had very violent tendencies and almost broke my arm. He tore apart my classroom, attacked children,” says DiBiasi, who is presently on maternity leave from her job teaching 5th grade special education at a Bronx, NY public school.

“No child is just lazy or just naughty. There’s always a reason that it is happening. A lot of negative behavior is attention-seeking, kids looking to get a rise out of other children or who can’t get enough attention at home,” she says. “When you can identify the ‘why’ behind the behavior, when you show compassion and try to get to the bottom of it, then you can make meaningful change.”

This is 2020. Why are we still talking about discipline?

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One student would constantly sit with arms crossed, silent. “To a teacher it looks like defiance,” she says. “But I took time to speak to her mother, I got her back-story and came to find out that this was her first year in a special education setting and she was worried about the stigma that was created around that. She shut down because of those feelings, and I was then able to find ways to help her feel smarter, to be more tender in my delivery to her and she started to open up.”

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