When Students Bicker And Argue

If a positive, low-key strategy can work, isn’t it worth giving it a try before more confrontational and heavy-handed traditional approaches? You could feel the tension rising across the gym. Disputes over the rules. Name-calling. “Accidental” pushing and shoving. There’s a reason they call it “chemistry,” and this PE class was getting ready for an explosion. … Continue reading When Students Bicker And Argue

Why Students Won’t Listen

Imagine you are on a game show. You are going to get a chance to win thousands of dollars if you answer the question correctly. The host opens his mouth to read the question. What are you doing at that moment? My guess is you are leaning forward with your eyes on the guy’s face. … Continue reading Why Students Won’t Listen

Don’t Smile Till Thanksgiving

Of all the horrible classroom management advice I have heard, “don’t smile until Thanksgiving” has got to be just about the worst. The implication is if you act mean, strict, unsmiling, and cold, you will be able to intimidate your students into behaving. Then later (after Thanksgiving, presumably) you can “lighten up,” and reveal that … Continue reading Don’t Smile Till Thanksgiving

Preventing Bad Behavior Habits

Things you will never hear a teacher say: “Please write your spelling words ten times incorrectly.” “Look away from the ball.” “Place your fingers on the wrong keys, and practice your scales.” Practicing a Skill Incorrectly Will Lead to Mistakes It makes absolutely no sense to ask a student to practice doing a skill incorrectly. … Continue reading Preventing Bad Behavior Habits

Why Panic Is a Bad Classroom Management Strategy

No matter what’s going on in your classroom, don’t panic!  I’m not promising you everything will be okay – how could I know that?  The only thing I know for sure is that panicking won’t help.  It will just take a bad situation and make it worse. That Out-of-Control Feeling of Panic I know that … Continue reading Why Panic Is a Bad Classroom Management Strategy

The Importance of Ritual

Have you ever seen some of the things teachers do when they’re hoping for a snow day? They suddenly change from rational human beings to superstition machines. One of my friends sleeps with her pajamas inside-out and a spoon under her pillow. My principal wears special snowflake earrings. We all know that snow dances don’t affect the … Continue reading The Importance of Ritual

Tattling and Advice-Seeking

“My friend lied to me!” “My parents are getting a divorce!” “My boyfriend broke up with me!” “Everyone’s gossiping about me!” “He cut in front of me in line!” When students come to us with personal problems it’s easy to fall into one of two extremes—dismiss the problem as unimportant (“I’m sorry. Go play with … Continue reading Tattling and Advice-Seeking

Explaining Yourself

I personally love it when a principal says, “Because I said so,” when I ask why I have to do some seemingly illogical task, such as wrapping my bookcase in paper at the end of the year. “Because I said so,” makes it SO much more likely I will happily follow the directions. (I hope … Continue reading Explaining Yourself

A Bribe or a Thank-You?

Henry was on a behavior plan. If he attempted his work, used respectful language, and kept his hands to himself during a class, he received points. If he received 12 out of 18 points during the day, he got to listen to music on his headphones the next day. Ineffective Behavior Plan I had Henry … Continue reading A Bribe or a Thank-You?

Changing One Word Can Make a Huge Difference

Have you ever had one of those backhanded compliments? Like, “Wow! You actually smell good today!” Yeah, me too. And yet, too many times I see educators giving backhanded compliments to their students without even realizing it. “You did a great job on that writing assignment, but you need to work more on your spelling.” … Continue reading Changing One Word Can Make a Huge Difference