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Positive Discipline in the Classroom: Developing Mutual Respect, Cooperation, and Responsibility in Your Classroom

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The Acclaimed Bestseller That Can Improve Your Classroom Experience Forever!
Over the years, millions of parents have come to trust the classic Positive Discipline series for its consistent, commmonsense approach to child rearing. Hundreds of schools also use these amazingly effective strategies for restoring order and civility to today's turbulent classrooms. Now you too can use this philosophy as a foundation for fostering cooperation, problem-solving skills, and mutual respect in children. Imagine, instead of controlling behavior, you can be teaching; instead of confronting apathy, you will enjoy motivated, eager students! Inside, you'll discover how to:
·Create a classroom climate that enhances academic learning
·Use encouragement rather than praise and rewards
·Instill valuable social skills and positive behavior through the use of class meetings
·Understand the motivation behind students' behavior instead of looking for causes
·And much more!
Over 1 million Positive Discipline books sold!

272 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1993

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About the author

Jane Nelsen

112 books144 followers
Dr. Jane Nelsen is a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Counselor in South Jordan, UT and Carlsbad, CA.

She is the author and/or coauthor of the Positive Discipline Series.

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5 stars
131 (34%)
4 stars
147 (39%)
3 stars
82 (21%)
2 stars
11 (2%)
1 star
4 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 40 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah.
1,700 reviews41 followers
September 3, 2008
At times this reads like an infomercial or, at the very least, a shameless plug for all of Nelson's other books. (I had a good chuckle owing to the fact that all the footnotes reference her own titles.) I do think her premise holds some weight, certainly there is value in holding regular classroom meetings and teaching students problem solving skills. However, cynic that I am, I highly doubt her conviction that such meetings are the magic bullet, a sure-fire ticket to cure all classroom ills. Moreover, I found it difficult to imagine conducting some of the activities Nelson suggests. Somehow I just do not envision my fifth-graders sitting through an audiotape or, perish the thought, me singing one of the Family Songs with lines such as, "Life was so nice when we were three - Mommy and Daddy and me" without bursting into laughter. Yes, practical sound basis but not "the answer."
Profile Image for Erika.
360 reviews109 followers
November 7, 2017
I first learned about Positive Discipline through my current workplace about two years ago. Last year they asked us (and by 'asked us' I mean 'forced us') to buy this book so we could understand the concepts behind what we were supposed to be implementing inside our classrooms. I must say that imposition is a terrible way of getting someone to adhere to a new teaching strategy. It wasn't until I was moved into the psychology department that I decided to really give the book a try.

Well, it has been quite a journey. It goes without saying I wasn't sold on the initial premise of stopping punishments and rewards even though I've never been a severe type of teacher. Most of my reluctance came from harsh critiques I heard from coworkers about this new approach, which they assured me only served to spoil students.

So, I finally started reading the thing and found it reasonable enough although I didn't entirely agree with all it suggested. I was almost finished with the book when I got two Positive Discipline certifications (one for parenting and one for teaching) and had a chance to see in action the concepts and strategies that the authors proposed and hear from parents and educators that have successfully implemented this system. I also heard several teachers' tales of rejection at their workplaces, to which I could relate.

It's an interesting model but not an easy one to implement on your own. I would also add that the activities described in the book are somewhat theatrical and seem more tailored to younger students which may put off stoic or introverted students and educators.

From all this I reached a couple conclusions: 1) Do not try to impose this model on other educators, it doesn't work that way. 2) If you do decide to go with this be warned it will take a good deal of time before you start seeing the fruit of your labor. 3) This is not magic nor a recipe book so don't expect an infallible, good for every occasion method.

My advice would be to read it and try what you feel comfortable with. Don’t go all in right from the start or you’ll get frustrated. It’s a process, take it one step at a time and see where it takes you!
42 reviews3 followers
February 26, 2019
I read this book for my class at St Kate’s. I wanted to add it to my goodreads list so I can refer to it later; includes practical suggestions for working with children.
Profile Image for Bridgid .
124 reviews
September 14, 2012
I actually have an older version of this text (1993), titled "Positive Discipline in the classroom: how to effectively use class meetings and other positive discipline strategies". I think it's geared more toward elementary level educators, and I'm trying to figure out how to use the principles in a primary Montessori classroom (ages 3-6).

Ch 1 - The positive discipline dream: "Class meetings are effective when teachers are willing to give up control over students in favor of gaining cooperation with students. Teachers learn how to ask more questions and give fewer lectures..." So the outlook it all about cooperation, collaboration, mutual respect, and empowerment. I really like how she points out that teachers using these methods ask more questions, rather than giving directions or lectures. I find that to be one of my greatest methods, to redirect a child's concern back to them, asking a Who/What/Where/When/How question to engage them in figuring out a solution.

Ch 2 - The Message of Caring
Barriers & Builders

Barrier 1 - Assuming
Builder 1 - Checking

Barrier 2 - Recuing/Explaining - "...when we do things for students rather than allow them to have their own experiences to learn from." A very Montessori aligned concept

Builder 2 - Exploring; "Teachers explain and rescue when they say, 'It's cold outside, so don't forget your jackets.' Teachers explore when they say, 'As you look outside, what do you need to think about before you go out to recess? What do you need to do to take care of yourselves?"

Directing vs. Inviting/Encouraging

Expecting vs. Celebrating

"Ism-ing" vs. Respecting


Profile Image for Clickety.
308 reviews25 followers
July 13, 2008
In fairness, I'm a high school teacher and this book seems to be geared more for the elementary level. But it was insulting to have it implied that if you're always nice to the students and smile a lot and use a gentle tone of voice, inappropriate behavior will disappear. Oh! And if your lessons are interesting and engaging, students will choose to work rather than doodle, write notes, text message, play cards...
Profile Image for Bea Elwood.
917 reviews8 followers
June 10, 2016
If you have time to read a teaching guide written 15 years ago then this one has some good pointers. This is not the first book I've read however where the idea of creating a learning environment that fosters respect and accountability is made out to be a novel approach. I hope it is because in the last two decades we have embraced this concept so maybe it is time to update these guides to reflect that.
Profile Image for Carolina Campoy.
120 reviews
August 11, 2019
An interesting approach

This book is mostly for teachers or maybe even parents dealing with a solution-based system rather than a punishment/reward one. The book makes the case por Positive Discipline techniques to tackle the root of the problem rather than the behavior.
At points the book is a bit repetitive but it makes sense since most of us have a behavioral approach to discipline so the book is constantly showing the basis of PD.
It’s filled with both research and practical examples of what a PD classroom looks like and it provides further information about extra training and even training parents. I gave it 5 starts because it is a great book for a beginner teacher concerning PD.
Profile Image for Chris Heim.
140 reviews
October 14, 2019
If you're a teacher who has read Nelsen's Positive Discipline and/or you practice Responsive Classroom techniques, then this book is a good fit for you. There are some inconsistencies with Responsive Classroom (PD doesn't espouse logical consequences, as RC does), but the overall concept of involving children in solving problems, and in speaking to them in respectful and empowering ways are similar. The class meeting structure detailed here is worth reading about, and I've tried (and enjoyed) the "Compliments and Appreciations" activity. This is a worthwhile read for anyone looking for reminders that can help with classroom management, as well as some new ideas.
Profile Image for Jaimie.
75 reviews
July 23, 2020
I have already read “Positive Discipline Tools for Teachers” which actually have the same principles mentioned in “Positive Discipline in the Classroom.”
Using Positive Discipline in the classroom for classroom management and problem solving guidance will take some time and practice getting used to the methods. I am sure the more I use the techniques from the book and training workshops, the more it will help create a positive and welcoming classroom environment.
Profile Image for Michelle (driftingsong).
598 reviews37 followers
January 30, 2022
I actually read the fourth edition.

Anyways when I first started this book I was rolling my eyes, thinking, there's no possible way this would work, but then the longer I read the more I thought YES this really is a method I'd like to employ and it does fit with my feeling of how children should be taught (solving problems, speaking through issues respectfully, treating people like people, trying to help people, leading by example).
Profile Image for Mamie.
103 reviews3 followers
July 16, 2021
Helpful ideas and anecdotes. It's also nice that there are lesson plans incorporated. I enjoyed reading it! It will be interesting to apply bits and pieces and see how it goes.

At its root, I do appreciate the emphasis on problem solving, empathy, and encouragement in the classroom. It's motivating to read and gets me excited for the schoolyear ahead!
Profile Image for Shari.
2,050 reviews
August 6, 2017
Most readers would agree with the Positive Discipline philosophy. However, it requires an incredible paradigm shift and even a personality overhaul for some. It is a bit "pie in the sky" and workshop training and coaching is probably needed to put it into action.
Profile Image for Daniel.
14 reviews
January 2, 2019
Great Book

This book is pretty great. It’s filled with actionable advice that every teacher should have access too. I’ve yet to implement everything in the book but I have started class meetings.
Profile Image for Teo Ekstrom.
122 reviews
February 2, 2019
Nice book with lots of practical ideas. The central idea is to host Class Meetings which build community, decrease problem behavior, etc. I'm unsure how strong it would be applied, but I'll probably find out next year!
Profile Image for Rebecca Alleman.
15 reviews1 follower
May 20, 2019
Fantastic insights into behavior and how to motivate less compliant children. Asking questions “what do you need to do for x”, providing limited choices, teaching the impact of behaviors on others, and the basic tone of “you are capable” are so important.
Profile Image for Agnė Domarkaitė-Sugintė.
62 reviews5 followers
July 30, 2019
Nuostabi knyga mokytojams: išsamiai paaiškinti pozityviosios disciplinos principai, aiškiai bei suprantamai parašyta, padrąsinama įkvepiančiais pavyzdžiais. Tikrai skaitysiu kitas dalis bei rekomenduosiu kolegoms mokytojams.
Profile Image for Danielle Barger.
209 reviews4 followers
March 26, 2020
I’d say 3.3 ish. This was the textbook used for a class I took toward renewing my teaching license. Easy to read format. Helpful for someone who is beginner teacher especially. Definitely took away some good ideas.
Profile Image for Gabi.
332 reviews
November 14, 2021
Much of the material seems to be aimed at primary level, so as a secondary school teacher, I didn't find it as useful as I had expected. Still, I liked the concept and I found lots of thought-provoking ideas.
Profile Image for Barbara.
359 reviews3 followers
May 20, 2018
An excellent resource to have in a teachers library to refer back to often to remind of proper practices when students start getting the best of you and test you too much.
114 reviews1 follower
August 19, 2018
This is a great book for teachers who want to be kind but firm. It encourages teachers to assist students in problem solving and helps hugely with classroom management! It is highly recommended!
Profile Image for Janice.
1,856 reviews2 followers
August 4, 2021
Good way to teach problem solving skills and have students be responsible for their own actions. A respectful way to help your classroom learn and grow. Empowers students.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
28 reviews1 follower
Currently reading
August 21, 2009
I'm in the midst of re-reading this book as I use it in my classroom. It's not well written, but I think it's a pretty good guide. Some things have already made a difference in my class: the win-win conversation seemed to really click for all of us. Unfortunately, already, on the third day of school, I'm feeling a lot of the same frustration and disappointment I felt last year when I tried to go through a similar process with my students. Last year, I finally gave up. This year, the kids are still resisting a lot of things and once again seemingly taking advantage of the absence of standard disciplinary consequences as we work to set up our class meeting. That's one of the main ideas of the book: solutions instead of consequences. The class meeting is supposed to be where you work with the kids to come up with solutions to the problems they're having in the classroom. But the problem is that it takes so long to go through all the things they recommend you do before you get into the problem solving part of class meetings that you're left with a ton of problems and no clear way to handle them. If I'm going to try to not just send them to the office, how do I deal with some of these behaviors right now, when we don't have a way for coming up with solutions yet? We're all already sick of me just talking to them and reminding them of the rules and agreements we've come up. (We made it through coming up with our classroom rules, which is farther than we got last year!) We're in limbo while we try to move through things a lot of them don't even want to do so that we can set up a system to solve the problems that this whole process is creating! (That's not entirely true, but there seems to be just a ridiculous amount of problems right now; so many kids are sabotaging what we're doing.) So, we're going to jump into some problem solving ahead of schedule tomorrow. I can't wait any longer. I can feel myself getting too pissed off. I kind of want to give up again, but I'm also so tired of doing things the standard way and seeing them not work. I'm committed to stick with this this year. I keep thinking about what my friend told me about Freud sticking with his ideas for decades, toiling and not giving up. I've got the beard. Freud had a beard, right?
Profile Image for Becca.
377 reviews44 followers
February 19, 2017
Positive discipline is the idea of using class meetings and mutual respect to run a classroom.

I think several of the ideas used in this model are fantastic: the wheel of choice, encouraging teachers to understand why they react the way they do, and talking to children with respect. Most importantly, this book helped me realize that when I'm asking children what's happening and when we talk about choices we're making, I'm not messing up or giving too much freedom. I'm helping them feel valued and important. I feel children can feel valued and important even with reward/punishment methods. It also reminded me that children are very capable of solving their own problems, and even more so if they have a good guide who can help them make sense of emotions.

However, there are several aspects of positive discipline that won't work in my classroom scenario, especially since our day-to-day (extended care) begs a lot of flexibility and "thinking on feet" for activities and scheduling (and I'd be the only teacher using this model, which could be confusing for younger students). Most of my conflicts are specific to my classroom DNA, but the one I had the most conflict with was that reward/punishment models are damaging. Without getting into educational theories, I just respectfully disagree. The writers also said that many of their "puzzle pieces" could not be used in a reward/punishment environment––I also respectfully disagree here. I fully admit that I am not the best teacher, and maybe part of the problem is that I am not willing to give up power, one of the biggest struggles mentioned in this book. I'm willing to own that.

Again, I have no problem with those who use this program! I think teachers can still encourage students to make positive choices both with this method, and also while using a reward/punishment method. It all depends on the child and the school system. My needs call for handling situations in a different way than this book suggests, but I have been using several of these tactics, and they work.

I'd recommend this book for teachers who are dissatisfied with some manipulative aspects of teaching and authority. Positive discipline isn't a perfect system (and no system is) but there are some great ideas to glean from here.
13 reviews1 follower
January 16, 2015
This book had excellent suggestions for discipline which are both concrete and backed by a sensible philosophy. Many of the ideas are ones I have stumbled across by accident myself, and they work phenomenally - if you are dedicated. The tips will be great for the classroom and (though I haven't read the original Positive Discipline book) undoubtedly at home.

The book is easy to read and understand, but not at all dumbed down.

The reason I felt I couldn't give five stars is because the book feels unduly promotional. I'm sure many parents and teachers need to believe that PD will work for them, so the testimonials are useful. However, there are SO many of them, and the authors SO insistent on the (very real) benefits of PD that it starts to sound like I'm being sold something, or that the authors are insecure. I'm sure this isn't the case, and I do believe in the philosophy of PD - but this problem detracts from an otherwise brilliant book.
72 reviews
August 4, 2008
This book turns classroom management on its head. I'm very interested in trying to implement class meetings in my classroom this coming year. It has become blindingly obvious that, at my school, punitive measures have proven useless. So, what do I have to lose by engaging my students to problem-solve for themselves?

I feel very optimistic after reading this book. I hope that I can make it work for my classroom! Leslie- You need to check this one out!!
Profile Image for Sarah.
225 reviews
December 8, 2015
Pretty nice discussion of how to use Positive Discipline in an elementary school classroom -- not necessarily in a preschool classroom, though. The concepts in general could be adapted fairly easily, but the activities are for sure higher grade level material.

that being said, it has some interesting stuff, and brings together a lot of the theories that I already know about and practices I do. So that's nice.
Profile Image for Patricia.
2,239 reviews43 followers
August 3, 2009
This book challenges you to make a better classroom by giving over control of every aspect of it. The school I teach at uses the Positive Discipline philosophy as our discipline policy and I've seen how well it works. The book includes many different activities from starting your positive discipline from scratch, and answers the many questions and objections you may have.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 40 reviews

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