Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

February 2, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Interview Of The Month: Marvin Marshall On Positive Classroom Management

Regular readers know that in the fall I began a new feature called “Interview of The Month” where I interviewed various people in the education world about whom I wanted to learn more. You can see read those interviews here.

This month, my guest is Marvin Marshall, author of the influential education book “Discipline Without Stress, Punishment or Rewards” and the newer book “Parenting Without Stress.”

I’ve often quoted Marvin in this blog. His ideas on positive classroom management have been a huge influence on my classroom practice. I’d strongly encourage people to subscribe to his blog, How To Promote Responsiblity & Learning.

Here’s our interview:

You’ve been advocating for a more positive approach towards classroom management for quite awhile. What got you thinking about it originally, and how would you summarize it in a few sentences?

We now know how the brain operates as it relates to emotions. First come the cognition (input from our senses) and is immediately connected to the senses. For example, receive a compliment and you feel good. Be criticized and you feel bad. People do NOT do good when they feel bad. They do what you would like them to do when you communicate in positive terms. It is really quite simple: Let people know what you WOULD LIKE them to do, not want you do not want them to do.

What might be three key guidelines that a teacher could keep in mind, or on a small index card, to help remind him/her to stay more positive in the classroom?

1. Ask yourself, if the person hearing your communication will interpret what you say in positive terms.

2. Ask yourself, “Will the person feel as if I am using coercion in any way?”

3. Ask yourself, “What can I ask so that the person will feel that I am I am giving a choice and that I am prompting the person to reflect?

What are a few ways you think your perspective on positive classroom management distinguishes itself from many of the other “systems” that are out there?

I have a number of them that are listed here.

However, if I were to limit them to two, here they are:

1. I don’t relay on rules. Rules are used to control, not inspire. I use the term “Responsibilities” because I want to promote responsibility and this term raises expectations–something that relying on “rules” lacks.

2. Imposing punishments–especially imposing the same consequence on all parties–is unfair and counterproductive. ELICITING a procedure or a consequence from each participant is more fair, less stressful, and more productive for all.

You’ve done a fair amount of speaking to teachers in other countries. How would you describe the differences — if any — between how teachers in the U.S. tend to look at classroom management compared to those around the world?

Teachers in many other countries have more time to spend with each other in lesson planning. As a result, they focus on motivation and ways to have students WANT to put in effort in learning. Teachers in the U.S. are allowed little if any of their employment time (as are college professors) to plan lessons. They focus on what they (or the government) want to be taught and focus on teaching that curriculum–with hardly any time devoted to motivation. Teachers just expect that it is the students’ responsibility to learn what has been presented to them.

What are a few key mistakes do you think teachers tend to make around classroom management?

1. They ASSUME students know what the teacher wants the students to do WITHOUT first modeling, practicing, and reinforcing the procedure to do what is being taught.

2. They confuse classroom management (teaching procedures to make instruction efficient) and discipline (how students behave.)

3. They assume that discipline is naturally negative. It’s not. The best discipline is the type that the person doesn’t even realize that the person is being disciplined.

What are some of the most useful things you’ve learned recently, and how did you learn them?

1. That coercion in any form is counterproductive.

2. That any one can learn the skill of asking reflective question that inspire self-reflection.

Is there anything else you’d like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Understand that no one can change another person. People change themselves. And that the least effective way to have a person want to change is by using commonly-used approaches such as relying on rules and using coercion.

You can purchase Marvin’s books here and also learn of how schools can obtain free copies, a resource guide, and a DVD.

February 13, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Classroom Instruction Resources Of The Week

Each week, I publish a post containing three or four particularly useful resources on classroom instruction, and you can see them all here.

You might also be interested in The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2015 – So Far and The Best Resources On Class Instruction – 2015.

Here are this week’s picks:

What Do We Mean When We Ask Learners to Think? is from Teach Learn Grow.

Asking “Why” Questions Does Not Improve Behavior is from Marvin Marshall. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Classroom Management.

How Feedback Can Be More Kid-Friendly is from Middleweb. I’m adding it to The Best Rubric Sites (And A Beginning Discussion About Their Use).


Homework: What does the Hattie research actually say? is from Head Guru Teacher. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Homework Issues.

I’m adding these two tweets to The Best Resources On “Close Reading” — Help Me Find More:

October 19, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

SEL Weekly Update

I’ve recently begun this weekly post where I’ll be sharing resources I’m adding to The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources or other related “Best” lists:

“Getting Gritty with It.” is from The Wellington Learning and Research Centre and is really quite good. The study makes a good connection between grit, growth mindset and metacognition. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit.”

Speaking of grit, I’m adding this video to the same list:

Experiment Tests If Teacher-Student Relationship Helps Performance is from NPR. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On The Importance Of Building Positive Relationships With Students

What To Do When Your School Mandates PBIS is a very interesting post by Marvin Marshall.

Walton Family Foundation Invests in Research on Measuring Grit, Character is from Ed Week, and I get worried about whatever I see them funding….

June 28, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Classroom Instruction Resources Of The Week

Each week, I publish a post containing three or four particularly useful resources on classroom instruction, and you can see them all here.

You might also be interested in The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2015 – So Far.

Here are this week’s picks:

30+ Formative Assessment Strategies is from EduChalkboard. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Formative Assessment.

10 PowerPoint Tips for Teachers is from Tekhnologic. I’m adding it to The Best Sources Of Advice For Making Good Presentations.

Influence Youth is a great short story from Marvin Marshall that offers good advice to teachers everywhere.

June 22, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: A Corollary To The Best Piece Of Classroom Management Advice I’ve Heard

I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion the best piece of classroom management advice I’ve ever heard. It’s from Marvin Marshall, who wrote:

Will what I am about to do or say bring me closer or will it push me away farther from the person with whom I am communicating?

Here’s a corollary to it that appeared in The New York Times yesterday, and which was highlighted in a tweet by Dan Pink this morning:


I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Classroom Management.

June 16, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Questions To Help With Positive Classroom Management

I’ve written a lot about positive classroom management writer/thinker Marvin Marshall.

He’s just written a post sharing a long list of questions teachers can keep in their back pocket to ask students who could be making better choices in class.

Here are a few, but you want to go to his blog to read all of them:

• Is this going to get you what you want?
• Is this going to move you forward or backward?
• What can I do to help you?
• Are you going to let this (situation, person, problem, setback, disappointment etc.) hold you back?
• Are you going to be able to rise above this _______ (situation, disappointment, etc.)?
• Look at _______’s face. How is he/she feeling right now as a result of (what you have done/said)?

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Classroom Management.

April 12, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Options, Options, Options….

I’ve previously posted about Marvin Marshall’s great advice about always providing three options to students in a classroom management situation. As I said then, usually, when teachers only give students two options, it’s often clearly one very bad one and one that the teacher obviously wants done. In that kind of situation, it’s not really giving them a choice they can “own.”

Marvin has now published a bit more on this topic at his blog. Check out Options and Discipline.

I asked him if he could elaborate a bit more on his reasoning, and he sent me this:

When dealing with young people, the advantage of giving three (3) options is that it reduces all coercion. This is especially the case with “passive-aggressive” or “oppositional-defiant” kids. These young people often get their “power” by resisting. When three options are in play, resistance disappears. So often these kids are prompted by “counterwill”–the natural human tendency to resist control of any kind.

The conversation goes like, “Would you rather complete the form by yourself, with someone to help you, or what would you suggest?” Usually, I would give two options and then say, “Or what would you suggest?”

The point is that with so many people, offering two (2) choices is still coercive. Offering three choices–especially if it is elicited from the student–significantly reduces the feeling of being coerced or controlled.

By the way, Marvin, who’s one of the best thinkers about positive classroom management strategies out there, has created an online course on his system. It’s a low-cost way to learn a lot, and he’s offering half-price until April 30th.

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