The Experiences of Teachers and Staff in Schools that Implement Conscious Discipline

Finn, H. D. (2015). The experiences of teachers and staff in schools that implement conscious discipline (Doctoral dissertation, Indiana State University).

Type of report: Qualitative research report


This article looked at the different insights and experiences of administrators, counselors, teachers, and staff in three elementary schools where CD was implemented for several years (one school in Indiana and two schools in Texas). Schools with staff trained in CD implementation by onsite certified trainers were selected to participate by Loving Guidance, LLC. Data was gathered through individual and group interviews and informal classrooms observations with teachers who volunteered to participate. Observations and interviews asked the research question, “What are the experiences of teachers and staff in schools who have implemented Conscious Discipline?”. One to two days were spent interviewing staff and observing classrooms. School A had 320 students in grades K-4; 12 of 21 teachers agreed to be interviewed/observed. School B had 532 students enrolled in Pre-K to 4th grade; 14 of 35 teachers agreed to be interviewed/observed. School C had 584 students enrolled in grades Pre-K to 4th grade; 21 of 39 teachers agreed to be interviewed/observed.


Five themes related to approaches and practices across all three schools emerged from this study. These themes included:


The report notes not only findings but also some of the significant limitations of this study. The study does raise some new questions and should be taken into consideration when informing future research.

  1. Role of leadership team (modeling, support, patience with staff adjusting to implementation)
  2. Rituals and celebrations (importance of daily commitment, embedding into other school activities)
  3. Challenges with implementation (securing “buy-in” from staff; learning how to ‘teach’ positive behavior instead of ‘punish’ students; getting new staff up to speed on the program)
  4. Personal outcomes (how training had embedded “positive intent” and other CD ideals in their daily lives)
  5. Next steps (maintaining CD principles in practice; more training for staff)

In addition to the five themes listed above, the study also found five key strategies utilized by principals from each of the three schools to support implementation of CD. First, each school had a leadership team to promote enthusiasm and lead the implementation work. Second, staff training was offered to support implementation success. Third, school leadership had to had to allow for gradual implementation of CD classroom components, allowing staff “try it out” and develop their skills. Fourth, a routine and school wide celebration took place in every building/school to celebrate accomplishments. Lastly, clear goals were articulated for expanding and planning the next steps of CD implementation.

Read the Report

Related Content: Becky interviews Dr. Heather Finn in Real Talk with Real Teachers Podcast Episode 026