Students Need Professional Development Too

School administrators can reduce student disciplinary infractions by using the left-hand column professional development activity during disciplinary hearings. Many disciplinary hearings result in consequences for the students without providing professional development that will reduce the reoccurring resistant behavior. Reducing the resistant behavior decreases student suspension rates which impacts standardized test scores, student attendance, and student graduation rates.

In many instances, differences in values and beliefs lead to disciplinary infractions. The left-hand column activity provides an opportunity to evaluate student thinking and the dialogue that corresponds to involvement in disciplinary infractions. Businesses and educational organizations have successfully used the left-hand column professional development activity which Argyris and Schon developed in 1974.

Frequently, classroom disruptions result from the dialogue between teachers and students or students and students. During the dialogue each participant is involved in a thought process. If the thought process is refined, then the dialogue between the participants will not lead to disciplinary infractions.

School administrators must provide students with professional development by using the left-hand column activity (Figure 1). Student involvement in this activity can reduce reoccurring disciplinary infractions as well as providing school leadership an opportunity to evaluate the student’s values and beliefs which could determine future educational strategies that reduce student disciplinary infractions. Incorporate the left-hand column activity as follows:

  • The activity begins with identifying a specific challenge that a student has had which may warrant a consequence for a disciplinary infraction
  • The student prepares a dialogue script in the right column
  • In the matching rows, the student writes down what they were thinking on the left-hand column
  • Use additional rows if needed
  • The administrator and student determine the turning point that would have prevented the disciplinary infraction
  • The administrator recommends future alternatives for the student


Figure 1