What does it mean to be self-disciplined? How can we mimic this concept in the classroom? I recently read the book, “Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t, Good to Great” by Jim Collins and one of the concepts that jumped out at me right away was that of self-discipline.
What is self-discipline? According to Webster’s Dictionary, it is the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it. As teachers, we all face this thought process at one point or another in our career. The temptation to abandon a lesson or a concept is not an uncommon thought process. However, we have to maintain a level of self-discipline that will allow our students to learn specific concepts and our classrooms to run smoothly and efficiently.
In my opinion, self-discipline is the key to one’s success and allows for personal growth. Self-disciplined individuals focus on the goal, the mission, and values in each aspect of their life. They stick to difficult tasks when they are hard and overcome the obstacles laid out before them. Self-disciplined people do not have to be managed, they do their work and they do it well because they are intrinsically motivated.
So how do we get self-disciplined students who are in our classrooms to make strong impressions on those who are not? Jim Collins talks about a concept called, “first who, then what…,” which means get the right people on ”the bus.” Get the right students to buy-in to your classroom rules and vision and it will foster growth and relationships for the rest. When the class has shared values and traits, it will allow relationships to develop and students will feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. The right students can change the classroom environment. They will participate with great insight and they will deliver great content, regardless of the incentive.
Here are some things to try:
- Lead from the front. Model the behavior you expect to see from your students.
- Reduce distractions to the best of your ability.
- Create a pleasant classroom environment.
- Have clarity on your classroom rules and expectations. Convey these to your students regularly.
- Give everyone “3-strikes.”
- Communicate with students often and get to know them as individuals.
Even though it is the end of the school year, as teachers, we still have time to plant the seed for our students and help them learn how to enhance their own self-discipline.
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