According to a recent article, the Obama administration is attempting to improve the American education for historically underserved children by revamping discipline in schools. The present process for improving education is confrontational towards teachers. The Obama administration will need to empower teachers to transform the perceptions that students have regarding teacher intentions rather than revamping discipline in schools.

According to the article, President Obama’s Plan to Revamp Discipline in Schools, President Obama believes the best way to improve education for historically underserved students are to revamp the discipline system in schools. This thought process is the result of staggering statistics. The article points out that some 3.5 million students were suspended during the 2011-2012 school year. The United States Department of Education reported that an additional 3.5 million students received in school suspensions as well as another 130,000 expelled from school.

President Obama has authorized a Civil Rights Data Collection project with the intent on bringing focus on school districts that have racially motivated suspension rates. Not only will the data expose schools that fit this category, but it will supposedly provide an opportunity to enhance those schools.

What is the first step that the Obama administration should take to revamp discipline in schools?

The first step is to empower teachers to revamp discipline in schools. Empowering teachers:

  1. Enhances job satisfaction
  2. Raises expectations
  3. Increases the quality of work
  4. Increases collaboration
  5. Increases productivity

Empowering teachers enhances job satisfaction because it’s frustrating to a teacher to know what’s right, but feel powerless to do anything. Giving teachers some decision-making ability will decrease frustration and improve teacher retention. Empowering teachers raises expectations because when a teacher is empowered, that teacher has higher expectations. When teachers’ expectations are raised, teachers will rise to extraordinary levels and can become the catalyst for growth. Empowering teachers’ increases quality of work because in organizations that provide employees with the freedom and flexibility to make a difference, employees feel empowered to deliver high quality work. Schools that provide teachers with the freedom and flexibility to be empowered will deliver higher levels of quality work.

As teachers are empowered and treated as vital components of the school, they gain self-confidence in their abilities to positively influence the school. Teachers with healthy levels of self-confidence and self-esteem are more willing to share information with others. They feel comfortable exchanging ideas and collaborating with other teachers in an honest and open manner. These behaviors promote teamwork and active involvement in support of school and district wide goals that could not be achieved with a disjointed, non-connected workforce.

Teachers who are granted the power to take charge at work feel an increased sense of responsibility, accountability, and ownership for their work. They will work diligently to meet deadlines and school goals. They will feel energized enough to do what it takes to get the job done and to do it right. All of these reasons fuel an empowered teacher to be more productive and therefore providing better performance results for the school.

The additional benefits provided to teachers through teacher empowerment include increasing teacher job performance and competence, improved morale of teachers, increased knowledge of subject matter, teaching strategies, methods, techniques and pedagogy, and finally resulting in higher motivation among students as well as higher levels of academic achievement.

In conclusion, empowering teachers creates a positive learning environment for students which will not only impact school discipline but student achievement as well.

How does a positive school environment impact school discipline?

Students and teachers who are warm, compassionate, and friendly toward one another in the classroom have the potential to improve instruction and learning. Developing positive relationships with students provides benefits for schools, teachers, and students. Having positive and caring relationships in schools increases resilience and protects children from academic failure, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and destructive behavior and violence.

Teachers who have positive feelings toward their students are more likely to have students reciprocate those positive feelings. Teachers who develop positive and personal relationships with students may prevent psychological development problems in their students. Students are more willing to develop positive relationships with teachers who tend to form close friendships with their students.

Minority students have beliefs regarding student achievement and teacher-student relationships. Black students believe their academic achievement increases when they have positive relationships with teachers. Black students also believe that increases in positive feelings affect academic achievement when teachers become responsive to the students’ personal lives. Conversely, Black students believe that their poor academic performance results from teachers who lack concern for them and engage in negative gossip regarding students.

The most effective way to improve academic achievement for historically underserved students is to empower teachers to develop positive racial teacher student classroom relationships and not by exposing schools with the hope that they will revamp the school discipline. Schools can also reduce school discipline which seems to be the primary indicator for alleged racism in schools by utilizing the Raccelerate Racism Formula.

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Punitive school discipline down in NYC

 

Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.

www.positiveracialrelationships.com

PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

 

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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology

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