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SCHOLARLY JOURNAL ARTICLE CRITIQUE

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Kerry Bryan
EDUC 526Classroom Management
December 15, 2013
Doug vonEhrenkrook, Instructor
Southwestern College

Sterrett, W. L. (2012). From discipline to relationships. Educational Leadership, 70 (2),


71-74.
INTRODUCTION
Relationships of all kinds play a huge role in the lives of most people. In the
school setting, relationships are a very special thing that can change the lives of students
and teachers alike. Often relationships, positive or negative, affect student behavior and
even academic achievement. Students may think, My teacher doesnt like me or care
about me so I am not even going to try. However, deep relationships can bring out the
best in students because they learn that an adult believes in them and longs for them to be
successful. In the article, From Discipline to Relationships author William L. Sterrett
examines what it takes for teachers to build strong relationships with students.
THESIS
Relationships sometimes happen naturally, while other times they take a lot of
work. Sterrett asks an essential question at the beginning of his article, What can school
leaders do to support teachers in building stronger relationships with students? (2012)
As an administrator, he recognizes that principals are not able to form close relationships
with all the students in a school. Thats why its so important for teachers to do this in
their individual classroom. Instead of just expecting that teachers possess all the skills
for this difficult task, he chooses to equip them with the necessary assistance. Rather
than a laid back, reactivtee approach, he chooses to have a hands-on, action method. He

SCHOLARLY JOURNAL ARTICLE CRITIQUE

is proactive about leading teachers to act on a solid vision, create communities in their
classrooms, and continually build relationships with students.
MAIN POINTS
This article is about the need for change and figuring out the positive steps that
can be taken to get there. Sterrett is examining an elementary school where there was a
high rate of students being suspended, and these were the same students who were
struggling in school. He realized that there needed to be a major shift to keep kids in
school and help them improve. Instead of just talking about big dreams or visions,
Sterrett wanted to come up with a practical way to connect with kids. Teachers and
school leaders cannot merely advocate for better relationships or an improved climate; we
must use proven strategies that set students up for success (Sterrett, 2012, p. 72). It was
clear that they would have to reach students on a personal level.
Finding and focusing on the positive things that students are doing became part of
the schools vision. Sterrett discussed the importance of recognizing students
accomplishments over the P.A. system at school. Teachers nominate students and the
principal announces them each morning. This helps to build students up and also gives
them something to work towards. He also recommends that teachers call parents to share
something positive about their child. This helps bring parents into the positive energy of
the school and keeps them on board if there should be a more negative situation in the
future.
By building up a classroom community, students will feel more apart of the
group. Sterrett recommends that teachers have a daily meeting where the class meets
together in a safe environment. He suggests that Calling the students together for a class

SCHOLARLY JOURNAL ARTICLE CRITIQUE

discussion before transitioning to recess can provide the means to preview activities in
which students can strive to include one another as peers (2012, p. 73). When the class
has this bonding time each day, students can build deeper relationships with one another
as well as the teacher.
Finally, Sterrett outlines the other adults that are involved in helping to build
positive relationships with students. He describes the use of a support room that students
would go to after meeting with the principal if they still needed time to process and
reflect before retuning to the classroom. A trained individual, who is ready to work with
kids that are coming from a disciplinary situation, staffs the reflection room. This room is
important because, once again, it allows for the building of relationships. Also, it is a
relief for teachers to be able to have a supervised place outside of the classroom where
students can feel supported.
CRITICAL ASSESSMENT
From Discipline to Relationships really focuses on both classroom management
and teacher-student relationships. It presents the idea that students and teachers all
benefit when relationships are intentional and important. Sterrett presents that
students benefitted from knowing a specific adult at the school cared about them (2012,
p. 74). Through his examination he found that focusing on relationship building can
help increase positive student behavior, help parents become more supportive, provide a
less stressful environment for teachers and create more time for them to be working on
academics in the classroom.
Sterrett focused on staying positive when working with students. There were
several articles presented in our classroom management course that related closely to this

SCHOLARLY JOURNAL ARTICLE CRITIQUE

topic. The following statement from Dhaem (2012) fits in well with Sterretts thoughts,
negative teacher responses do not foster positive teacher-student relationships or
student self-control. Sterrett would likely agree because he emphasized having positive
energy as the general feeling in the school environment. Another article that discussed
the power of praise told us that it was best when teachers were praising students about
specific behaviors that they had (Marchant & Anderson, 2012). This fits with Sterretts
idea of praising kids over the P.A. system for certain positive choices that they made.
Through the Classroom Management course and other research, it is clear that
relationships are instrumental in school settings. Teachers who adopt a relationshipbuilding approach to classroom management by focusing on developing the whole person
are more likely to help students develop positive, socially-appropriate behaviors (BeatyO'Ferrall, Green, & Hanna, 2010, p. 5). Sterretts ideas were aligned with these when he
discusses the importance of building and growing consistent relationships with students
(2012). Beaty-O'Ferrall, Green, and Hannas article, Classroom Management Strategies
for Difficult Students: Promoting Change through Relationships, also included
information on building relationships with students from multi-cultural backgrounds.
Connecting with students from diverse home situations is such a crucial part of what
teachers do. It would have been useful for Sterrett to touch on this issue because it would
have connected well with the rest of his article.
It was clear in the article that Sterrett intended to change the school climate in
ways that have been discussed above. Perhaps it would have been beneficial for him to
examine school wide positive behavioral interventions and supports, as discussed in
chapter five of Positive Behavior Supports for the Classroom (Scheuermann & Hall,

SCHOLARLY JOURNAL ARTICLE CRITIQUE

2012). This way he would have solid research to base some of his school decisions off
of. Although much of what has been discussed in the classroom management course fits
in line with what Sterrett has to say, he doesnt always support his thinking. He
references the data gathered throughout the year at a school where he was principal, but
showed no other quantitative data to back up his ideas. I think Sterrett could have made a
more compelling argument by sharing specific data that hes acquired and examined
instead of just sharing well thought out opinions. Although easy to agree with, one has to
wonder how valid his information really is.
PERSONAL REACTION
Overall, From Discipline to Relationships is a passionate article that articulates
the importance of building relationships in the classroom. I appreciated how the author
(the school administrator) felt it necessary to equip his teachers with information to build
relationships with students. Instead of just expecting results, he was really able to guide
them and share great ideas. It would be helpful for teachers and principals to read if they
wanted tips on ways to start having a school community built around relationships.

SCHOLARLY JOURNAL ARTICLE CRITIQUE


References

Beaty-O'Ferrall, M., Green, A., & Hanna, F. (2010). Classroom Management Strategies
for Difficult Students: Promoting Change through Relationships. Middle School
Journal, 41(4), 4-11.
Dhaem, J. (2012). Responding to minor misbehavior through verbal and nonverbal
responses. Beyond Behavior. 21 (3).
Marchant, M. and Anderson, D.H. (2012). Improving social and academic outcomes for
all learners through the use of teacher praise. Beyond Behavior. 21 (3).
Scheuermann, B.K., & Hall, J.A. (2012). Positive behavior supports for the classroom.
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Sterrett, W. L. (2012). From discipline to relationships. Educational Leadership, 70 (2),
71-74.