Assertive Discipline Theory

Lee and Marlene Canter developed the Assertive Discipline model after observing that effective teachers acted assertively; these teachers expressed their expectations to their students and were prepared to act if those expectations weren’t met. (Baron 1992) The Canters believed that teachers were in charge of the classroom and had the right to teach without interruptions, and they offered the following value statements as they relate to the classroom teacher:

· You have the right and the responsibility to establish rules and directions that clearly define the limits of acceptable and unacceptable student behavior.
· You have the right and responsibility to be supportive of those students who are not disruptive.
· You have the right and responsibility to teach students to consistently follow these rules and directions throughout the school day and school year.
You have the right and the responsibility to ask for assistance from parents and administrators. (Wolfgang 2005, p. 82)

The Canters developed the Assertive Discipline model based on the premise that students choose to behave as they do, and therefore the school environment should be structured in such as way that students choose to behave in an acceptable manner. (Charles 2008) In addition, administrators and parents are expected to support the teacher in enforcing the pre-set rules.

The Assertive Discipline plan has three steps:
Establish rules that students must follow at all times. These rules must be observable and enforceable. They must be clearly conveyed to the students ahead of time.
2. Develop supportive feedback that students will consistently receive for following the rules. Feedback can be given in various forms such as praise, positive notes and phone calls home, awards, rewards, and special privileges. The emphasis is on reinforcing the positive behavior of students rather than giving attention to the misbehaving student.
3. Define corrective actions that the teacher will consistently use when a student chooses not to follow a rule. The corrective actions must be clearly stated to the student so that the student understands that he or she chose the actions by breaking the rules. Actions begin fairly mild and increase in severity. For instance, from a warning for a first infraction to staying in class after the bell has rung to a call to parents to a trip to the principal’s office for several infractions. (Wolfgang 2005; Baron 1992)