Thomas Gordon's theories on discipline in the classroom promote a healthy learning environment for students. Gordon "pioneered the teaching of communication skills and conflict resolution to parents, teachers, youth, and managers of organizations,' and, "2 million people have undergone his training programs worldwide" (Charles & Senter, 2004, pp.63). His theories on collaborative class management, communication roadblocks, I-messages, you-messages, and no-lose conflict resolution provide a classroom with discipline.
Collaborative Class Management
Gordon's theory on collaborative class management is used by nearly all classrooms in order to instill discipline. This method of management requires students to actively participate and make decisions concerning their learning. Students and teachers work together to determine lessons, set up the classroom, and choose methods of learning. This interactive means of discipline is a productive way to teach kids responsibility and accountability.
Discipline in the classroom can not exist if there is not effective communication. Communication roadblocks are a deterring force to discipline. These roadblocks can occur with a teacher who is "moralizing and telling the student what he or she ought to do" (Charles & Senter, 2004, pp. 63). Teachers should be aware of the presence of communication roadblocks in the classroom.
I-Messages and You-Messages
An important part of Gordon's theories on discipline and classroom management is I and You messages. It is important for a teacher to use the I form of communication instead of you-messages. I-messages explain how you "personally think or feel about another's behavior and its consequences" (Charles &Senter, 2004, pp.67). You messages place blame and do not effectively influence students. Gordon believed that students should be influenced by the teacher to do well instead of quilted into discipline. Being aware of the way messages are conveyed to students in the classroom is important to encourage and instill discipline.
No-Lose Conflict Resolution
This means of conflict resolution is important when trying to maintain discipline in the classroom. Teachers must present the students with a way to resolve conflicts where everyone feels better about it. Conflicts present the students and teacher with a means of learning. No-lose conflict resolution occurs when a teacher can start a discussion which helps the students learn from the conflict and figure out how to avoid it in the future. This effective means of discipline allows students to find a "way of ending disputes by enabling both sides to emerge as "winners" (Charles & Senter, 2004, pp.69).
Gordon's theories on discipline in the classroom are still utilized today across the world. Educators will benefit from understanding the Gordon's theories on collaborative class management, communication roadblocks, I-messages, you-messages, and no-lose conflict resolution.
Charles, C. M., & Senter, G. W. (2004).Building Classroom Discipline (8th Edition)(8 ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.