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“What would be the long-term effect of doing that?”

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Telling vs. Asking is another great piece of advice from Marvin Marshall, my favorite writing on positive classroom management. Here’s an excerpt (this particular post is directed towards parents):

Rather than TELLING, consider phrasing your idea as a QUESTION or stated in a curious mode. For example, if you disapprove of what your youngster wants to do, ask, “What would be the long-term effect of doing that?”

I wish I had read this advice earlier this morning. Some students at my schools have challenges dealing with transitions, and certainly moving from vacation back to school qualifies as a transition. A couple have not been doing their work and, I have to admit, I was a bit sharp with them today.

Tomorrow, during the first fifteen minutes of class when we do silent reading with a book of their choice, I’m going to have a short private conversation with each one. In addition to apologizing for losing my temper, I’m going to follow Marv’s advice and ask them, “What do you think would be the long-term effect if you acted everyday like you did yesterday?” Of course, teens are not know for thinking about long-term consequences, but I think this question fits in with the life-skills lessons we’ve been doing. Asking the question certainly can’t hurt…

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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

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