As schools begin to reopen, effective online classroom discipline is a must to ensure that historically underserved students do not become victimized by excessive disciplinary consequences. The irony of it all is that students who are online are already postured as excluded from the brick and mortar school. We know that any exclusionary actions by schools are detrimental to historically underserved students. Educators will need to employ several tactics to ensure that online classroom discipline does not result in the same trends that have been established by previous efforts to better control students.
Schools have opted to use several methods for implementing online classroom discipline. Some schools have decided to deal with incidents of misbehavior on a case-by-case basis. This is problematic because the disciplinary consequences are decided by an individual administrator who may already have biases that are detrimental to historically underserved students.
Others are adding addendums to their typical codes of conduct that specifically address online learning, and some are planning to virtually replicate the consequences students have faced in the past. Finally, in Sacramento, students had to sign a contract governing rules for school computer use, even though they may be using their own personal device.
Before we take a close look at online classroom discipline, educators must take a closer look at the cultural differences of students that will cause challenges for students and then implement strategies that ensure the success of each student.
The first and main scenario is that schools expect for students to sit behind a computer for four to five hours a day. This expectation is contradictory for historically underserved students. Teachers will need to implement more cooperative learning strategies rather than the traditional didactic form of instruction.
Cooperative learning benefits both Black and Hispanic students. Black students work and function better in cooperative, informal, and loosely structured environments where teachers and students work together to achieve a common goal. Cooperative learning structures provide a cultural match for Hispanic students too. Since Hispanics value people and relationships over task accomplishment cooperative learning will help them to be more productive in the online classroom setting.
Teachers can help students to avoid online classroom discipline related to talking by muting student voices during didactic instruction. One of the most common student classroom infractions is talking. Black students are inclined to talk back when motivated by what a teacher says. Black students may become so impressed with the speaker, such as a teacher, that students will want to hear the speaker again due to an interest in how it was said.
Hispanic students also exhibit speech characteristics that could lead to online classroom discipline. Hispanics involved in the decision-making process may use rising intonation, qualifiers, questions, and hedges. They make decisions jointly where one person speaks, and others join in and respond until the group makes a decision. While Anglo Americans value one person speaking at a time to indicate respect for the individual.
Teachers who use the opening of the year as an opportunity to train students on classroom expectations will have the least amount of online classroom discipline. This will help to avert the perception of racism that has plagued many schools.
For schools that require students to utilize email they need to ensure that their students understand how to use the email system. Teachers can utilize an online video on using the email system and then have the students to report on how the system is used.
Teachers cannot expect for historically underserved student to sit for long periods of time. Teacher should begin with a lesson introduction followed by no more than 10 minutes of instruction. Then students should move into some type of cooperative learning structure where they interact virtually with other students. Finally, students should have some type of kinesthetic break to ensure that the difference in student cultural values do not result in excessive online classroom discipline.
All the best,
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
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Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools
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