Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

“Are You Going To Have A Good Day Or Bad Day Today?”


One of my students has been having a lot of challenges this semester, and has been getting easily distracted, off-task, and disruptive. None of my usual interventions seemed to be working.

Then, about two weeks ago, as he walked in one day, I put my hands on his shoulders, looked at him straight in the eyes, and asked:

“Are you going to have a good or bad day today?”

He was a bit surprised, but almost immediately looked back at me straight in my eyes and said:

“Good day!”

It was.

Since that time, we’ve had this ten second ritual every morning, and he’s had about ten days of “good” days in a row (with a couple of minor variances).

I think the personal contact and helping him get into the mindset that he can make a choice are two reasons why it’s worked so far, though I’d love to hear other people’s perspectives on why you think it’s working.

I’m going to try the same thing with one or two other students who are facing some similar challenges. I’ll write about how it goes….

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. I couldn’t agree with what you did more! Dr. Becky Bailey teaches this kind of thing for use with younger students, and while it isn’t foolproof, just a few seconds of one-on-one attention from a teacher can help a troubled student make better choices. Keep us posted about how it is working. Thanks!

  2. This is brilliant! I believe it’s the personal contact as well as the idea that this is a choice. I read a personal narrative about a person who decided NOT to commit suicide and they had attributed their decision to one of their teachers. When asked what the teacher did, the person said, “Every morning when I walked in the door, she said good morning and asked me how I was doing. I knew she cared about me and would miss me if I didn’t come to class.” I have to believe it’s the little things that really make a difference in our student’s lives. You are a wonderful teacher and you do make a difference.

  3. Great post! I love that you are making your students mindful of what choices they are making in regard to how their day goes! This is a great lesson that you are teaching them!

    I’ve been doing this with my first graders for the past two years and it works! (wouldn’t it be great if your students or even we had learned this at a young age?). I always say to them, “You have the power to make it a good day or a bad day, which is the better choice?” Common sense overwhelms their little minds and they call out “good day!”

    We have even gone as far lately as to sit down in the beginning of the day and visualize a good day ahead of them. We call it “planning our day.”

    It DOES work! Keep doing it! It may take longer with your group as they have already established certain thought patterns over the year, but I applaud your effort to change their way of thinking!

  4. That is the power of a teacher who cares! Students know this if it is genuine and it is very powerful! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thanks for sharing this. A friend of mine recently shared a similar story. She told me the secretary would make morning announcements each day, and would always close with the same saying. “Have a good day…..or not. The choice is yours”
    I thought this was an inspiring way to let the students know they really did have a choice.

  6. Interesting that you should post about this just now. I’ve been watching Dr. Daniel Amen’s “Change your brain, change your life” on youtube today and he says something similar. If you write down things you are grateful for at the start of the day or write down your goals for the day/class you are likely to be more successful and have a better day. Just another way of reminding yourself who is in charge and what the big picture is.

  7. Thanks to everybody for your thoughtful and supportive comments!


  8. Wow, that’s inspiring! Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

Skip to toolbar