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John Gross

I think the biggest problem in today's classroom might be relating to the students what you want in your class. In many cases students have no idea except a general set of "rules" that are assumed by students. I did some training Via APL Associates (Google them.). about this after having 25 years of experience in the "old" classroom atmosphere where you were respected because you were the "teacher". No longer is this true.

One of the first things I learned quickly was that the kids needed to be taught what you wanted in your room, then it had to be reinforced using what we called "seminars", done on the kids' time, not the teacher's time. This had been discussed with parents, fliers had been sent home explaining the program and a telephone was available for outside calling from the teacher's desk. We showed them using play acting that which was acceptable in the classroom. At first this was a source of great entertainment and much giggling but eventually they caught on. These seminars were always held on the student's time, usually after dismissal. Any time that would be thought of as taking time away from them doing something they liked, such as playing after school or during free time after or during lunch. The seminar was always held with the parent's approval via telephone at the time of the incident had occurred, and were never punitive in nature. In fact many didn't take more than 2-3 minutes to review what they had done incorrectly and what was expected of them from now on. In fact, most times I would dial the parents home or work number so the child could tell mom or dad about the need for a seminar and why they would have to be picked up because they would be missing the bus or late getting home. If that day after school wasn't convenient for the parent or child because of a prior appointment, the seminar was rescheduled for the next day. With parents' cooperation this is very effective.

Another secret is never raise your voice (yell) at the offender. It takes a great deal of self control but can be done. It was such a challenge to make Mr. Gross yell that many tried it and several finally asked, "don't you ever yell?" I never did. Another thing I discovered during training that I had never thought about is a student's dignity. "Never mess with a student's dignity." Because if you do, they will get even with you, somehow. No name calling, no reference to their behavior as "acting stupid", just don't mess with their dignity in any way. It's difficult to learn this, but will pay off a thousand fold in the end.

Scott Elias

Great commentary, John. And I agree about raising your voice. I teach the "capstone" course for pre-service teachers at the University and when we talk about "classroom management" I lean heavily on my belief that you should never let a 15-year-old kid push you over the edge.

I also share with them how ineffective positional power (I'm the teacher - do as I say!) is with "the kids today."

-- Scott

Charlie A. Roy

I love your post. I work as a high school administrator. When teachers bomb it usually has much to do with their inability to manage and engage their students. We are human beings and should be treated as much. Teachers who treat their students like convicts don't get it and they never will. Respect breeds respect. I like to demonstrate at faculty meetings what it feels like to be treated as we treat the students. How would they like it if I wrote their name on the side of the building for being late or screamed at them in the middle of the faculty meeting for talking? Or my favorite- rfusing to honor their employment agreement because they turned it in a few minutes late.

Prof. Howard Seeman

You make some good points above.
However, I also think that this can be helpful to you:
Go to: http://www.panix.com/~pro-ed/

If you get this book and video: PREVENTING Classroom Discipline Problems, [they are in many libraries, so you don't have to buy them] email me and I can refer you to the sections of the book and the video [that demonstrates the effective vs. the ineffective teacher] that can help you.

If you cannot get them, email me anyway and I will try to help.
Best regards,


Howard Seeman, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus,
City Univ. of New York
20 River Court
Suite 1404
Jersey City, NJ 07310

Email: Hokaja@aol.com
FAX: (586) 279-0935

Book, Training Video/CD:
Preventing Classroom Discipline Problems
The Educator's Support Forum

Renee Moore

Great post, Scott, and very perceptive. I taught high school English 17 years before moving to the community college level, and I can count on one hand the number of students I sent to the principal's office. I can see the teachers who mentored me in your observations. Like Harry Wong, they taught me that the best classroom management is proactive.

Scott Elias

I also think that the best classroom management is the kind no one notices...

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