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December 10, 2011

Controlling Teacher, Out of Control Classroom

Great teachers maintain control of their classrooms. They do not, however, control their students. In fact, show me a teacher who tries to control students, and I'll show you a classroom that's out of control. One way many teachers try to control students is through disciplinary rules and punitive ...

December 03, 2011

Student Attitude Adjustment or Teacher Attention Adjustment?

Like a lot of teachers, I believed at first that attention-seeking students needed attitude adjustments. So when kids acted out, I not only punished them but also preached to them about changing their attitudes. But nothing changed until I concluded that the best way to modify someone else's behavio...

November 20, 2011

Strategic Group Selection--By Teachers, Not Students

When I worked in business, managers--not the people they supervised--decided who would work together on a project. This made sense, since they were in the best position to objectively determine which staff members would provide the right combination of skill, teamwork, and other qualities to ensur...

May 21, 2011

Bad Students or Bad Situation?

At last month's Education Week webinar, Addressing Diverse Student Learning Needs, I stressed the importance of breaking from classroom traditions that are no longer--and may never have been--in students' best interests. One such tradition occurs every day in countless early childhood and elementa...

May 14, 2011

Responding--or NOT Responding--to Misbehavior

It's hard--really hard--not to respond to misbehavior as soon as you notice it (something I've experienced as both a teacher and parent). Often, however, the best response is a delayed response or no response at all. Here are a few guidelines: Distinguish inappropriate behavior from disruptive beh...

April 30, 2011

No More Timeouts for Tardiness

Some teachers greet tardy students with shame: "That's your third time this week, Charles!" Others prefer sarcasm: "Nice to see Erica has decided to join us." Then there are those who are welcoming: "Good morning, Mario. Take off your jacket, and please join us." And in many cases, teachers follow u...

April 23, 2011

Motivation or Manipulation?

A common yet misguided motivational tactic involves praising some students for the purpose of redirecting other students. A classic example of this is when teachers call out, "I love the way Groups 1 and 4 are sitting," when what they really mean is "I hate the way Groups 2, 3, and 5 are stirring."...

April 16, 2011

Connect With Kids in the Context and Confines of the Classroom

I may not have survived my first year in the classroom if it hadn't been for basketball. Many of my students lived and breathed it (this was the west side of Chicago during Michael Jordan's heyday), and I was pretty good at it. So when I was unable to connect with kids in the classroom, I tried to c...

April 03, 2011

Behavior Management ≠ Classroom Management

"The reality of education is that people learn from people they love," says New York Times columnist David Brooks in a recent National Public Radio interview discussing his new book, The Social Animal. "We've spent all this time with big schools, small schools," Brooks later says. "But what really...

March 19, 2011

When Helping Students Hurts Students

We educators are giving, helpful people. That's what drew many of us to teaching in the first place: a genuine desire to help children. And yet it's our helpfulness, I've found, that often hurts kids more than it helps them. The problem is that sooner or later success for students will require sel...

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