Lee Canter: The Assertive Teacher

Presented by: Amber Ammons, Amy Vittitow, Katie Richardson

What is the Assertive Teaching Approach?

Assertive discipline has evolved since the mid 70's from a rather authoritarian approach to one that is now more democratic and cooperative. The Cantors believe that you, as the teacher, have the right to determine what is best for your students, and to expect compliance. No pupil should prevent you from teaching, or keep another student from learning. Student compliance is imperative in creating and maintaining an effective and efficient learning environment. To accomplish this goal, teachers must react assertively, as opposed to aggressively or non assertively.

Classroom Management

First, let's get rid of a common misconception: assertive does not mean aggressive. Assertive teachers are in control of everything that happens in the classroom. They decide what's best for students, in this sense they 'lead the learning'. Students are expected to comply and assertive teachers ensure this by creating and maintaining a climate in the classroom that promotes effective learning, they act quickly and decisively in calm, well-rehearsed ways that encourage compliance.

Learning Climate

Suggested classroom procedures

Scanning: While working with a group of students, the teacher periodically looks up and over the remaining students in the classroom and gives praise statements to those who are actively working.

Circulating the classroom: “Don’t stay seated behind your desk” directs the assertive discipline. Get on your feet and move around the classroom.

The teacher stays engaged with the students, allowing them to understand there are rules to follow as well as the ability to speak open and honest within the classroom without negative implications.

Everyone has Rights!

Teacher Rights:

  • To establish a classroom structure and routine that provides the optimal learning environment in light of your own personal needs.

  • To determine and request appropriate behavior from the students which meet your needs and encourage the positive social and educational development of the child.

  • To ask for help from parents, the principal, etc. when you need assistance with a child.


Student Rights:

  • To have a teacher who is in a position to and will help them limit their inappropriate, self-disruptive behavior.

  • To have a teacher who is in the position to and will provide positive support for appropriate behavior.

  • To choose how to behave and know the consequences that will follow.

Canter's Assertive Disciple