Q. I wanted to tell you how much the positive discipline techniques have helped my teaching. I experimented with class meetings at the end of the past year. It was a great success. Let me begin by telling you that I teach band. I tried the meetings with my small bands (approx. 25 people). I want to try to have meetings with my high school band, but there are 50 people in that class. I don't know if I have enough time to have meetings with that many people and still get all the work done that I need to get done. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for my situation. I would appreciate any comments you could offer. Thank you.
A. I appreciate hearing about your success. I have a few suggestions. Please let me know if you try one, and how it works:
1. One possibility is to spend half of one period, once a week, on a class meeting. High school kids can retain the process longer. They usually appreciate the opportunity to be listened to and have their thoughts and ideas taken seriously that they will be even more cooperative to help get all the work done that needs to get done. They will find solutions to any problems that get in the way.
2. Divide the group into two smaller groups of 25. Have two class meetings and allow a few minutes for each group to report to the other. This way there will be more opportunity for acknowledgments and appreciations. (I'm assuming you have read either Positive Discipline or Positive Discipline in the Classroom, and know what I'm talking about.
3. Another possibility is to take the problem to your students and see what ideas they have to solve it. As a school counselor I was often called "the broken record" because I was always saying in response to any question, "Put it on the agenda and let the kids figure it out."
An outdoor education program in San Diego used "cabin meetings" for 30 minutes every morning with 60 kids to a cabin. They found it very helpful in creating a respectful climate.