Uniting School Administrators to Create a Better World

Keep the Students Engaged and Lower Discipline Issues – Hypothesis Confirmed

As a school administrator, one of my responsibilities is to deal with discipline. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

It’s not the part of the job I enjoy that much, but I try to use the time I spend with each student to turn it into a learning opportunity, so they leave my office a little smarter and hopefully they won’t continue the negative behavior. I’ve been able to create some positive connections with many of these students who seem to have a difficult time with self control.

Recently, I had a belief of mine confirmed concerning the relationship with student engagement and behavior problems.

I suppose it’s pretty easy to hypothesize that with more student engagement, you will have less behavior issues.

The confirmation of that belief came on a day when we had very important visitors to our campus.

Our district was one of the four finalists for the distinguished Broad Award given out each year, and my school was selected to be one of the host schools where Broad representatives would be using to visit classrooms and conduct interviews with administrators, teachers, and parents from around the district.

It was a great honor to host the Broad committee, but it was also a great responsibility. We spend a lot of time preparing for the day of the visit.

Teachers knew that there would be a possibility that the committee would visit their classes, and they were feeling the pressure. We weren’t told which classrooms would be visited, so teachers were a little stressed out.

The day of the Broad visit came, and we heard that the committee was very pleased with what they saw.

One of my concerns was how it would look if there was a fight on campus or if there were a bunch of students sent out of class for poor behavior.

As it turned, however, on the day of the Broad visit, there was a total of ZERO students sent to me on a discipline referral. That’s right. No students got in trouble on that day. No student was sent out of class for being disrespectful. No student was involved in a fight. No student was sent to the office for being defiant or disruptive.


In contrast, on the second to the last day of school, when many teachers had a “free” day where students could spend the entire period signing yearbooks and hanging out in the classroom, I had too many students to count sent to me on discipline referrals. I suspended four students on that day – a one-day record for me. I spent most of that day getting witness statements, calling parents, and handing out consequences to students.

What’s my point?

The way I saw it, was that on the day when teachers pulled out their best, most engaging lessons, in order to impress the visitors on our campus, there were no behavior problems. On the other hand, on that day when some teachers had no real lesson plan, giving students a lot of freedom, there were more behavior problems to count.

It was a clear confirmation of what most educators believe: An engaged student is not a behavior problem.

A student who is not engaged in a classroom lesson is prone to be engaged in other perhaps more negative behaviors.

When I was a teacher, I had my good days and my bad days. What I can honestly say is that the level of my lesson plan preparation had a direct effect on what kind of day I was going to have. The more I planned, the better days I had. The opposite is true too. If I threw a lesson plan together on the way to work, things didn’t go too well.

A bored student is discipline issue waiting to happen.

As a school administrator, if I want to lower my discipline count, I need to have more of my teachers creating engaging lessons on a more consistent basis.

How do I do that?

Any ideas?

I found this to be a pretty interesting study on the relationship between student engagement and behavior. Now I have to take what was revealed to me and use it to improve the level of engagement in the classroom.

Wish me luck.

Hope this post was helpful.

If it was, please share it with your friends and followers.

Until next time,

Thank you,


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