Model Information

Assertive Discipline: Lee Canter

Underlying Assumptions

  • Students must be forced to comply with rules.
  • Students cannot be expected to determine appropriate classroom rules and follow them.
  • Punishment will cause students to avoid bad behavior and engage in good classroom behavior.
  • Good behavior can also be encouraged by positive reinforcement.
  • For proper classroom management, parents and school administrators must help to enforce rules


  • It is simple to use.
  • The personal desires of the teacher can be enforced.
  • It envolves parents and administrators in the discipline process.


  • The practice of warning students by putting their names on the board may entice some students to misbehave who otherwise would not.
  • Students angered by warnings and sanctions may go further in their rebellion than they ordinarily would.
  • Students may be embarrassed by having their names on the board.
  • This approach fails to promote self-direction in students.
  • It fails to deal with the underlying causes of discipline problems, such as emotional illness, divorce, poverty, racism, and so forth.
  • It advocates suspensions for extreme misbehavior when far too many children are out on suspension already.
  • Although Canter recommends using positive reinforcment while emphasizing negative consequences, in actual practice, positive reinforcement may be excluded.
  • Canter recommends strictly enforced rules in the cafeteria. Children frequently go to fast food restaurants for lunch without supervision and cause no problems. Perhaps schools could learn something from this fact.
  • Negative consequences or punishment stimulates rebellion and promotes the very behavior it is designed to eliminate.

Corrective Discipline

Assertive discipline emphasizes punishing unacceptable behaviours and provides reinforcement for behaviours that are acceptable to teachers.
Discipline must be based on a foundation of mutual trust and positive relationships with students and earn their respect.
The main focus of Canter’s model is on assertively insisting on proper behaviour from students, with well organised procedures for following through when they do not. The model provides a very strong system of corrective discipline. This corrective discipline would include tracking misbehaviouer. If students are not threatened by established punishment, increase severity of the punishment.
Teachers must use both the monitoring system and assertive language so that students understand the seriousness of the situation.

  • Employ the broken record technique....just repeat your demand. Use eye contact and touch along with this technique. At three repetitions, you can stop and tell the student what the negative consequences will be.

Assertive discipline focuses on punishment and positive consequences. The key to effect punishment is not the severity but the consistency. Students need to know that disruptive behaviour results in negative consequences every time.
As a teacher, you also need to show positive response to good behaviour. "Catch them being good philosphy"

Preventative Discipline

Assertive discipline is a preventative method only insofar as students try to achieve rewards or avoid punishments. Teachers use this approach to generally observe whether students' behavior is good or bad and then supply rewards or punishments as appropriate. The establishment of firm rules gives assertive discipline a somewhat preventative orientation.

Other Important Information

For school wide discipline to work properly, steps must be followed. First, rules must be created. The rules must define what is appropriate in all areas of the school, ie hallways, recess, lunch room, etc. Secondly, negative consequences must be implemented for violating school rules. Teachers must follow through with the consequences in their individual classrooms.

Personal Reviews


I strongly agree with Lee Canter’s Assertive Discipline Model. I think that the classroom needs to have an environment of trust and respect from everyone, not just students. I also agree with having a system of rewards and punishments implemented. Students should be rewarded for good behaviour and punished fairly for bad behaviour. I think that having a short list of classroom rules posted in the class is beneficial. That way, from day one, they are aware of what is expected from them. I personally will be using a lot of ideas from the Assertive Discipline Model in my classroom.


One of the things I like most about Canter's model is the underlying assumption that for proper classroom management, parents and school administrators must help to enforce rules. I think for students to adjust easily to the rules, everyone needs to be on the same page. However, this requires a lot of support from parents, which often times would be difficult to obtain. Other than that, I think this is a good model, I like his use of positive consequences.and the procedures of establishing rules and establishing positive student-teacher relationships.


Assertive discipline has a good balance of establishing rules and developing a positive, respectful learning environment. Good behaviour is encouraged and rewarded, and bad behaviour is punished, instead of ignored like in Behaviour modification by Skinner.With a set guideline of rules, every student is responsible for their own behaviour. I will definitely be applying Canter in my classroom. The balance of both rewards, rules, and punishment is key to creating a positive learning environment.


I agree with Canter when he says that school administrators, parents and teachers must work together to enforce the rules. I think that is so true! It is not just the teacher or a parent enforcing rules, it needs to be consistent across the board for students. I think students would have better behavioral practices if everyone around them worked together to enforce the rules. It would also show consistency. I think that I would like to try Canter's model in my classroom and see how the students react to it.


I strongly agree with Lee Canter's Assertive Discipline Model. Teachers should use both rewards and punishment. Students should get rewarded for the good things they do and should be punished for the wrong things they do. I agree that teachers should have the right to establish classroom rules, insist that students follow the rules, and recieve help from parents and school administrators in disciplining their students. Teachers need to be assertive in order for the students in their classroom to be successful. I think students will learn right from wrong since teachers are enforcing the rules and giving rewards and punishment for students' behaviors.