A Progressive Classroom Discipline Plan

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Every good teacher has a progressive classroom discipline plan. What is a progressive classroom discipline plan? It is a set of steps that you move through when students need consequences for their behavior. It is a tool that you can use to keep everything on track and running smoothly. Businesses use them all the time for documenting employee discipline and they are perfect for the classroom setting as well.

Do you ever feel like you keep giving the same students warning after warning? Is threatening to call a parent a daily occurrence? Do you say you are going to write up a student but then don’t? If these are habits that you have fallen into, you need a progressive discipline plan.

What’s in a Progressive Classroom Discipline Plan?

You simply need a list of possible consequences for behavior that is inappropriate in the classroom. Keep it simple. My favorites are:

  • reminders
  • warnings
  • student conference with the teacher
  • parent contact
  • meeting with counselor or administrator
  • referral

There is no need to assign a number to the consequences. Some behaviors may call for several reminders and warnings before parent contact. Other behaviors may require you to skip over some steps and go straight to the serious consequences. The important thing is that you know what the steps will be in your progressive classroom discipline plan.

How do you use a Progressive Classroom Discipline Plan?

Step 1: Publish it.

You will need to go over the plan with students. Insert it into your slides the first few days of school and make sure that the students understand each step. Hang it on the wall in the physical classroom. Post it in your Google Classroom or send it home in a newsletter or syllabus. Awareness is key.

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Step 2: Use it consistently.

If you don’t use your progressive classroom discipline plan then it just becomes wallpaper in your classroom.

Think through how many reminders and warnings you want to give ahead of time for small behaviors like excessive talking or gum chewing. I don’t publish this information to students and parents because it can depend on the student’s individual situation.

What does using a progressive classroom discipline plan look like in action? I may remind a student once during a period to stop talking. Then, the next time I have to ask them to stop talking I say to the student, “This is your first warning, please stop talking during the quiz.” I say it firmly but calmly. It is important that I am very clear about my expectations but that I’m also polite. I don’t try to embarrass the student or humiliate them. It is just a notification without any anger on my part.

The steps above a warning are usually ones that I deal with in private and not in front of the class. I let my students know that just because they don’t see a student getting a more “serious” consequence doesn’t mean it isn’t happening after class. They shouldn’t assume that a student is “getting away with” inappropriate behavior.

Finally, have a plan and work the plan. If you only want to give two warnings then stick to that. When working with teachers that I have mentored over the years I have noticed they start off strong with their discipline plan but then they start to slack off. Whenever they start to complain about worsening behaviors in their classroom it is almost invariably due to the lack of consistency in implementing their progressive classroom discipline plan. Unfortunately, when the teacher slacks the students start to slack also. So when you notice that happening, check your consistency.

Be consistent throughout the year.

Step 3: Document. Document. Document.

At the end of the period or the day, I document in my notes if I have had to give a student any reminders or warnings. I am aware that this takes time which teachers already have too little of but it so worth it in the long run.

Generally, I like each day to be a fresh start for the student. However, if I can see in my notes that I have given the same student 2 warnings multiple days in a row then it might be time to pull that student for a one-on-one teacher conference or to contact a parent.

Your notes documenting the use of your progressive discipline plan will help you when it comes time to make that parent contact. You’ll have specific dates and specific behaviors that you can discuss with the parent. You’ll feel more confident when talking to the parent.

Your notes will also save you time when you are ready to write a referral. If you keep them in the right format you can simply print them out and attach them to the counselor or administrative referral. They can also save you time if you are asked to give input for a 504 meeting or an IEP meeting.


If you are interested in learning more about classroom management, check out these two posts:

Building Relationships with Students at the Secondary Level

Classroom Management in Middle School: My #1 Strategy

You can also check out this YouTube video on the topic of progressive discipline plans.

This video goes over the progressive discipline plan, what it is and how to use it in effectively in your classroom.

Please leave a comment below and let me know your favorite Classroom Management Strategy and as always, thank you for being a teacher. ๐Ÿ’œ

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