One of the items you should keep in a binder on your desk this year (or in an electronic file, if you prefer), is a discipline log. My very first year of teaching, I had an even greater 7th grade team than I ever could have hoped for, and one of those teachers asked how I planned on keeping track of discipline issues. As a completely overwhelmed and anxious new teacher, I almost burst into tears at the question because I had never thought about it. My co-teacher hadn’t had a discipline log as far as I knew, and that wasn’t something I remembered learning about in any of my undergraduate education courses. I think my colleague saw the panic on my face because she guided me to her desk and showed me a simple three-ring binder, already divided by her class periods and labeled by marking period. They were sheets of tables she had made using a word processor; it could not have been any simpler. But, she started telling me about the value of such a simple idea.
- She could detect patterns of behavior at a glance.
- She could remember which students not to seat or group together, EVER.
- She would know the exact date of a student’s (mis)behavior when talking with parents or a principal or a counselor. This information becomes invaluable if it’s a kid who never before had shown any signs of being a challenge; when the team gathers to discuss kids who have drastically changed from the beginning of the year, you don’t have to guess or try to think back to the earliest incident. It’s all in the log.
- She could determine whether there had been a progression of behavior problems when the team met to discuss an alternative placement.
- She had detailed information at her fingertips when she needed to call home or when she needed it for parent-teacher conferences.
- She could analyze academic issues through behavior issues; for example, the kid’s grades started to slip when he started to skip his Bell Ringers or written tasks.
Discipline Log – Bailey Shawley – English 10, Period 1 – Marking Period 1 (SAMPLE)
|Student Name||Date & Time of Incident||Witnesses||Incident Description||Action Taken|
|Charlie Brown||8/16/14, 8AM||Atticus F.||Charlie came into class and threw a desk at the wall when asked to remove his hat.||Sent Charlie to the office, called to alert the secretary, and wrote up a Level II referral (see folder at back of binder). Called home (xxx-xxxx) and spoke to his mother; told her a principal would be getting in touch with her soon.|
The format of your discipline log isn’t as important as your consistency in completing it. If you are a secondary teacher, don’t be afraid to take your log into the hall with you and fill it in while monitoring the students pass classes. If you are an elementary teacher, take a few seconds and jot down notes on a sticky note and then transfer it into the log when you have itinerant or planning time. The key to a helpful and useful discipline log is being concise with your notes so it doesn’t become a burden to you, while at the same time being specific in your descriptions so you can rely on your information in the future. Of course, the best thing you can do to ensure that you are creating a helpful discipline log is to fill in the information as soon as you can, while the events are fresh in your mind, so that your details are as accurate and specific as possible. If you have a co-teacher or paraprofessional, it’s a good idea to have them add their notes to the log as well.
I know some of you are thinking: Great! One more thing I have to do. And, you’re right. A discipline log is one more thing. But, the benefits of this resource far outweigh the few seconds it takes to document discipline issues. The time you will save planning for team meetings, parent-teacher conferences, etc. will well be worth it if you are diligent about keeping it up-to-date throughout the school year. Add this as another task on that first day to-do list. You’ll be glad you did.
PS – My discipline log was always meant for my eyes only, with the exception of my co-teachers and paraprofessionals when absolutely necessary. Always check with a union rep prior to sharing any confidential information in writing. It never hurts to run something by those who are better trained in protecting you than wishing you had asked for guidance after the fact.