Cooperative Discipline

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Cooperative discipline is a technique that combines behavior redirection with the building of self-esteem. This approach recognizes that students choose their behaviors, and those choices stem from their desire to belong. It is a supportive approach based on mutual respect that requires cooperation among adults and students.

By precisely describing behaviors and understanding why students are behaving a certain way, instructors can help students find positive tactics to get what they need to learn. Misbehavior (behavior that disrupts learning) is driven by attempts to achieve four goals along students' quests for belonging: attention, power, revenge and avoidance of failure. Educators can identify the motives driving a misbehavior based on how it makes them feel and then choose appropriate actions to redirect the students. 

Student's Motive Instructor Feels Actions Instructor Can Take
Attention Annoyed
  • Legitimize the behavior
  • Do the unexpected
  • Recognize appropriate behavior
  • Minimize attention
  • Give student a task
  • Move student
Power Disrespected
  • Control his or her own emotions
  • Model non-aggressive behavior
  • Focus on the behavior, not the student
  • Give student choices
  • Remove the audience
  • Agree with student
  • Discuss misbehavior later

Guilty, Hurt

  • See above
Avoidance of Failure Confused, Concerned
  • Teach one step at a time
  • Make learning tangible
  • Celebrate achievement
  • Bring up past successes
  • Embrace mistakes

Source: Cooperative Discipline by Linda Albert