Reality Therapy: What Educators Need to Know About Glasser’s Approach to Classroom Management

This article discusses another classroom management approach: reality therapy. While there’s no single method for managing a classroom effectively, because different situations require different approaches, the root of the problem should be the key factor in deciding which approach should be used. Read on to learn about reality therapy and to decide whether or not the approach is for you.

Developed by psychiatrist William Glasser in the 1960s, reality therapy is used to guide students in becoming responsible individuals who are able to satisfy their own needs for the benefit of themselves and others. Despite its maturity, this approach has stood the test of time and is still in use today. This approach was developed with the idea that students know their own needs and wants and will make changes to get closer to where they want to be. Teachers are supposed to help students with making the right choices, while avoiding the wrong choices. Rational students should make the final decision themselves. If students opt for the wrong choice and misbehave, teachers and students work together to first evaluate the misconducts. They should then devise an applicable plan for students to make amends.

As trust and responsibility are given to students, students should work on their own to correct their misbehaviors. If students fail and break the trust, engaging in misbehaviors, teachers should remove them from the class until the students are committed to trying again to earn back the trust. This approach notes that the different styles of parenting should not be the acceptable reasons for misbehaving. When misbehavior occurs, ask what the students are doing instead of asking the students for reasons, because students should be trusted to analyze their own misbehavior and seek plans to correct their bad behaviors.

In the reality therapy model, holding classroom meetings and discussions are necessities. Students are encouraged to set the class rules and consequences. Once students agree, the rules will be adhered to at a higher level. When you hold these meetings, ensure that students understand that the meetings are held for everyone’s benefit because rules and consequences might require adjustments. As trust and responsibility are the essential components of the self-discipline approach, teachers and students should be able to communicate without barriers.

The reality therapy approach to self-discipline implies that people who can’t adhere to the rules are the cause of receiving the consequences. When students are not prepared as expected, students are the cause for their receiving consequences. Given that this approach respects everyone, and encourages students to be responsible individuals, if unsatisfactory action takes place, anyone and everyone should express their opinions and dissatisfaction accordingly. Possible solutions should be decided by open discussions.

Have you seen the reality therapy approach before? How did it go? What model works in one classroom may not be as effective with a different set of students. Think about the flow of your classroom and the needs of the children in it, and then decide what model would most effectively manage your classroom. If the model here doesn’t sound appealing, check out our two other articles on approaches to classroom management.

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