Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

March 13, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Guest Post: “Walk & Talks” Are Extremely Effective Way To Connect With Students – Here’s A “How-To” Guide

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Over the years, I’ve written a lot about the work of Jim Peterson, our school’s principal. You can see a video the Association of California School Administrators recently did about him here, and access the many posts where I’ve described his work here. In addition, he’s contributed to some of my most popular Education Week Teacher columns – Several Ways to Connect With Disengaged Students and Ways to Cultivate ‘Whole-Class Engagement.’

He’s recently revised a guide for teachers on how to do “walk and talks” with students, and has given me permission to share it here. I, and many other teachers, have found it to be an incredibly effective strategy for connecting with students and helping them to move forward:

The Power of the Walk-and-Talk Technique

Jim Peterson

Why Walk and Talk with a Student?

Many recent studies have found that the teacher-student relationship outweighs most other factors that influence student achievement and that are within the teacher’s control.

Psychological Benefits to the Walk and Talk

There are multiple psychological benefits to “walking and talking”:

“Body mirroring” is a technique that builds rapport between two individuals. The intent of body mirroring is to have your posture (i.e. leaning forward or backward in a chair, legs crossed or not crossed, etc.) subtly reflect that of the person with whom you’re communicating. This congruence between two individuals facilitates rapport building. Mirroring the body language of a student while sitting with her, can feel unnatural, contrived and distracting to a teacher who is not accustomed to using this technique. Walking next to a student keeps the teacher and the student in very similar postures with no conscious effort on the teacher’s part, which contributes to the rapport-building process. Therefore, the teacher doesn’t need to be conscious of the body mirroring technique but reaps the benefits of it nonetheless.

When you do not yet have a positive relationship with a student, she does not necessarily feel comfortable with looking you in the eyes. In some cultures it is a sign of disrespect for the student to look you, the teacher, in the eye. Walking with a student takes the question of whether to make eye contact out of the equation. It feels perfectly natural to have a conversation with someone and not make eye contact if you are walking alongside each other.

Students who are angry or frustrated will feel better if they are given a chance to walk. Sometime, when you find yourself feeling angry or frustrated, try walking one hundred yards. At the end of that distance, note how you feel compared to when you began the walk. You will not be gleefully jumping up and clicking your heels together, but you will have progressed from feeling bad toward feeling better. And, if you walk one hundred yards more, this sensation of relief will progress. This is why students who arrive to the vice-principal’s office angry often ask if they can remain standing, and if granted permission, will often pace.

When you walk with a student who is frustrated or upset, the student experiences a progression towards a better-feeling state. On a subconscious level, the student associates this positive feeling with your presence and contribution to it, the same way the person you delivered the bad news to made an association between you and the bad news. In the case of the walk-and-talk, however, this positive association is yet another element in the process that builds a positive relationship.

Doing walk-and-talk’s with your students, will, over time, change their behavior, improve their performance in your class and transform your experience as a teacher.



Walk and Talk Steps (shortened version):

1. Find out what class the student has during your prep and contact the student’s teacher to let her know that you’ll be stopping by to go for a walk with him. By doing this first, you can make sure that you’re not pulling the student from an exam or a lab he can’t make up, and when you come to take the student from class, it will be less disruptive.

2. Print the student’s grade and whatever data you have that explains the grade. If you use a spread sheet, simply print that student’s line. Make sure that it is simple data and not a narrative; the student is going to be walking while he looks at this. Take the sheet that the data is printed on and put it in a manila folder. You are going to give this to the student to keep. This is a simple step but there are multiple psychological corollaries behind it. Carry the folder on a clipboard along with a pen and a sheet of lined paper.

3. When you show up at the student’s class, ask the teacher, “May I see __________ for a moment?” When the student steps outside, say (in your own way), “Hey ______ walk with me for a second.” Immediately show him the folder and say, “Here’s your current grade. Go ahead and take a look at what you have so far. I have a plan that’s going to help you get it up to a ____. “Then hand the student the folder saying, “That’s for you to keep” and keep moving. Make sure that there is a clear path in front of your student. He’s already a little thrown off by your unexpected visit and is now looking down at a sheet of paper. It would be un-cool to do this ten feet before a pole or the top of the stairs, unless your walk-and-talk goal is to get revenge for any misery he may have caused you.

By holding the folder up and mentioning his grade, you’re not only capturing the student’s attention, but you’re also distracting him from the awkwardness of your showing up out of the blue. It also takes his attention away from any negative associations he may have with you. If he has a behavior issue in your class and you’re giving him an “F” (Yes, I know he’s earning the grade, but he likely doesn’t see it that way.), you may not be his favorite person in the world.

You’re ten seconds into the walk at this point, and here’s what you’ve done so far: By saying to the teacher “for a second” or “for a moment” you announced to the student, “Don’t worry; this is no big deal.” You immediately got the student moving, which relieves tension and awkwardness. You captured the student’s attention and distracted him with the folder that you said had his grade. (Have you ever noticed that even if you ask a student who has been absent from your class forty five out of fifty days if he wants to see his grade, he’ll say yes?) When you told your student that he could keep the folder, it was like saying, “Here’s a gift for you.” And, let’s not forget that you’ve shown yourself to be going out of your way by showing up at the student’s class. You are a rapport-building machine my friend, and you haven’t even gone twenty feet yet!

4. When the student is done looking at his grade, and you have answered any questions he may have, it’s time to discuss with the student your plan for helping him improve his grade. If the student wants to argue any part of his grade, redirect his energy by letting him know that he’s going to be able to move towards the grade he wants by following your plan.

5. Acknowledge what the student does well in your class. If you honestly can’t think of a single thing he does well in your class, find something positive about his personality that you can tie into helping him be successful. (i.e. “I noticed that you think quickly on your feet. That skill is going to help you a lot, once we get on track following our plan.”) Not only does this compliment go toward building rapport, but it gives the student something to feel competent about in your class.

6. Ask the student to share ideas of what he/she thinks you can do to help him be successful. Then, ask him/her what he/she thinks they can do to help themselves be more successful. You can help him along by making “I’ve noticed” statements, such as, “I’ve noticed that when you focus and do your work without talking to anyone, you don’t get confused and end up finishing your assignment.




Student Interests

Students not only appreciate when you get to know their circumstances, but their interests as well. Take the opportunity, during your walk and talks, to get to know your students’ interests outside of the classroom. If you have a student who is on the bike team, for example, you can ask him a question during one walk about his last race. During another walk you can ask him about his bike or how many miles he rides a week. This interaction may only take a minute or two (or five in some cases) and contributes greatly to the relationship-building process.


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

February 1, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Sacramento Bee Story On Teacher Shortage Features Our School’s Student Teacher Support Program


Help wanted: California school districts scramble to hire teachers is a nice article by reporter Diana Lambert appearing in The Sacramento Bee today.

It features how our school supports student teachers (created by Jim Peterson and Ted Appel), and you can read more about it at the three-part series at my Education Week Teacher column on…how to support student teachers.

If you go to the article’s link, you’ll also see a two-minute video the Bee asked me to do offering tips to new teachers, as well as seeing two photos of me, one of which was ridiculously outsized above the fold in today’s front page. It must have been a very slow news day…

I’m adding the article to The Best Articles & Posts About The “Teacher Shortage.”

October 17, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Lots Of “Experts” Quoted In Article, But Our Principal Is Only One Who Knows What He’s Talking About…


Large share of grads from some high schools require remediation at Sacramento State is an article in today’s Sacramento Bee that highlights the large percentages of high school graduates who are required to take remediation classes at Sacramento State University.

Our school, Luther Burbank High School, is targeted for having a higher percentage of graduates being required to take these courses than another other local school.

Various “experts” claim the reasons behind this including lack of collaboration between colleges and high schools and inadequate information about the expectations of college, and suggest that the Common Core Standards will somehow help this problem.

Fortunately, our principal is able to inject the one piece of common sense and accuracy into the over-simplified analyses offered by others quoted in the article:

The problem often starts well before high school, said Principal Jim Peterson. Burbank faces additional challenges, as 72 percent of its 1,776 students are considered low-income, and about a quarter were English learners last year.

“In the case of our school, demographically, a lot of our students … come to us below grade level,” Peterson said. “We work diligently as a team to get them thinking about college and get them moving in that direction. We push rigor in the classroom; nevertheless, we have kids that need some catching up.”

August 19, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Articles & Posts About The “Teacher Shortage”

There has been a lot of media about what has been called a “teacher shortage.” Here are some of the best articles I’ve seen about it:

Teacher Shortages Spur a Nationwide Hiring Scramble (Credentials Optional) is from The New York Times. Peter Greene has a related post that worth’s a read, too.

Teacher Shortage? Or Teacher Pipeline Problem? is from NPR.

The Hidden Costs Of Teacher Turnover is a  report from NPR.

You might also be interested in a three-part series I published on this topic at Education Week Teacher last year.

Is There a Teacher Shortage? That Depends How You Frame It is from Ed Week.

Some Districts Battle Shortage of Teachers as School Begins is from ABC News. Thanks to Alexander Russo for the tip.

Quote Of The Day: Sacramento Bee Realizes “Teaching Bashing” Affects Shortage

Why so many teachers quit, and how to fix that is from The L.A. Times.

As Students Go Back to School, Shortage of Teachers Causes Concern is from NBC News.

The real reasons behind the U.S. teacher shortage is from The Washington Post.

Want to Reduce the Teacher Shortage? Treat Teachers Like Professionals is from NEA Today.

Teachers Wanted: Passion a Must, Patience Required, Pay Negligible is from The Atlantic.

America’s Teaching Force, by the Numbers is from The Atlantic.

School districts see teacher shortages after years of cuts is from The Associated Press.

CA State finds teacher shortage in more subject areas is from Ed Source.

Addressing California’s Emerging Teacher Shortage is a new report from the Learning Policy Institute.


Help wanted: California school districts scramble to hire teachers is a nice article by reporter Diana Lambert appearing in The Sacramento Bee. It features how our school supports student teachers (created by Jim Peterson and Ted Appel), and you can read more about it at the three-part series at my Education Week Teacher column on…how to support student teachers. If you go to the article’s link, you’ll also see a two-minute video the Bee asked me to do offering tips to new teachers, as well as seeing two photos of me, one of which was ridiculously outsized above the fold in today’s front page. It must have been a very slow news day…

Second Statistic Of The Day: Students Entering College Not Planning To Be Teachers

June 17, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

All My BAM Radio Shows – Linked With Descriptions


As regular readers know, I’ve been doing a weekly ten-minute online BAM! Radio Show for the past year-and-a-half. In each show, I’ve interviewed guests who have contributed to one of my Education Week Teacher columns. They’ve been pretty popular, with nearly 30,000 downloads each month.

I thought readers might find it helpful if I put links with descriptions to each show in one place:

Student Grades Are In, Time to Reflect on Them with Kristina Doubet and Myron Dueck.

Why the Death of Paper Books May Be Greatly Exaggerated with Dan Willingham and Kristin Ziemke.

The Look and Feel of Culturally Responsive Instruction with Django Paris.

Blended Learning: What Is It, Does It Work? with Connie Parham, Angel Cintron, Jr.

Teaching: If I Knew Then What I Know Now… with Roxanna Elden, Dave Stuart Jr., and Julia Thompson.

What Are the Best Ways to Assess Student Work? with Andrew Miller, Suzie Boss, and Meg Riordan.

Error Correction with ELLs: Correcting without Discouraging with Anabel Gonzalez and Katie Brown.

The Best Principal I’ve Ever Seen… with Ted Appel and Cathy Beck.

The Death of Grading May Be Greatly Exaggerated but… with Kristina Doubet and Heather Wolpert-Gawron.

Teaching, Supporting, Learning with “Difficult” Students with Gianna Cassetta and Kevin Parr.

Two Strategies for Differentiating Teaching Algebra with Yvelyne Germain-McCarthy and Wendy Jennings.

Ed Tech Problems: Avoiding Those You Can, Managing Those You Can’t with Anne Jenks, Larissa Pahomov, and Jared Covili.

Teaching and Leading Without Administration Support with Megan Allen and David Allen.

Identifying ELLs with Special Needs: What Are the Signs? with Maria Montalvo, Beverly Maxwell, Ann Wilson, and Jennie Farnell.

Using Data In Education: The Good, the Bad and the Numbers with Myron Dueck, Dr. Jenni Donohoo, and Nancy Fichtman Dana.

How Great Principals Help Teachers Grow: They Do This, Not That with Mark Estrada and Diana Laufenberg.

Rethinking Student Discipline, Punishment and Accountability with Timothy Hilton, Shane Safir, and Jen Adkins.

Bridging the Cultural Barrier with Immigrant Parents with Rusul Alrubail, Anna Bartosik and Jordan Lanfair.

Lowering Barriers to Connecting with Parents and Maintaining Trust with Shane Safir and Jennifer Orr.

Epic Classroom Management Mistakes and How to Avoid Them with Gianna Cassetta and Karen Baptiste.

What Is the Value of Colleges of Education to Active K-12 Teachers? with Pia Wong and Benjamin Riley.

Making Science More Approachable to English Language Learners with Alicia Johal, Maria Montalvo-Balbed, and Donna Bennett.

Three Classroom Myths and Misconceptions about the Growth Mindset with Eduardo Briceño.

What Is the Sound of Education Without Teacher Voice? with Karen Baptiste.

5 Ways Teachers Can Work Around an Awful Textbook with Mary Ann Zehr and Christopher Lehman

Teacher Leadership: What It Is, What It Is Not with Aubrie Rojee and Regie Routman

Force-Fitting Technology Into Your Classroom: Pros, Cons and Surprises with Suzie Boss and Ken Halla

What Are the Unique Challenges Female Educators Face? with Rusul Airubail, Shanna Peeples, and Megan Allen

My Biggest Teaching Mistake and What I Learned from It with Ekuwah Moses, Julia Thompson, Roxanna Elden

If You Have ELLs in Your Class, but No Curriculum, Do This… with Annie Huynh and Wendi Pillars

Teaching and Learning Without Reflection is Like… with Barry Saide and Mary K. Tedrow

What Is Grit? Can Grit Be Taught? Who Is Responsible for Grit? with Ebony McGee, Kristi Mraz, Christine Hertz

Personalized Learning: Another Buzzword or a “Must-Know” Teaching Strategy? with Allison Zmuda, Diana Laufenberg, Pernille Ripp.

Closing the Teacher Diversity Gap: What It Takes with Dr. Travis Bristol

Three Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Teaching with Val Brown, Julia Thompson

Overwhelmed: Help for Those of Us Whose Lives Are Out of Balance with Debbie Silver

Would These 5 Tips Make You More Open to New Teaching Practices? Sally Zepeda, Bill Sterrett, and Pete Hall

Encouraging Other Teachers Who Work with English Language Learners with Sonia Nieto, Alicia Lopez

The Three Best Ways Teachers Can Encourage Support for English Language Learners with Jennifer Connors, Diane Staehr Fenner, Sydney Snyder

Teaching Strategies 2.0: What Is a Digital Portfolio? Why It Matters with Rusul Alrubail, Michael Fisher

The Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Professional Development with Rick Wormeli

Why Some Teachers Stay, While Others Quit with Sharon Jacobs

A Second Look: Teacher Attrition at High Poverty Urban Schools Karen Baptiste, Pia Wong, Yvette Jackson

How Small Learning Communities Create Powerful Climates for Academic Success with ReLeah Cosette-Lent, Ted Appel

How Are Common Core Standards Impacting Teaching Math to ELLs? with Ben Spielberg, Denisse R. Thompson, Gladis Kersaint

Exploring the Difference Between Student Participation and Student Engagement with Jennifer Gonzalez, Bill and Pérsida Himmele

Fitting Technology Into the Common Core Standards: Do This, Don’t Do That with Michael Fisher, Andrew Miller

What Are Good Examples of Reading Lessons Aligned to Common Core Standards? with Cheryl Dobbertin

What Are the Differences Between Project-Based, Problem-Based and Inquiry Learning? with Jeff Wilhelm, Suzie Boss

What Are the Best Ways to Teach Literature in the Age of Common Core? with Nancy Steineke, Sean McComb, Bill and Pérsida Himmele

Teaching English Language Learners (ELLs): Five Strategies That Work with Judie Haynes, MaryAnn Zehr

The 10 Best Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary in the Classroom with Katie Brown, Marilee Sprenger

Maker Movement, DYI, 3D Printers: New Fad or Real Path to 21st Century Skills? with Laura Blankenship

What Is Your Advice to Educators Who Want to Write a Book? with Marjorie McAneny, PJ Caposey, Alan Sitomer

Differentiated Instruction and Tracking Students: Is It Time to Reconsider? Laura Robb, Regie Routman

Effective Classroom Management: Do This, Not That with Pernille Ripp, Dr. Bryan Harris

How Can We Increase the Ranks of Teachers of Color? with Gloria Ladson-Billings

Are Caring and Relationship Building Compatible with Implementing Common Core Standards? with Mai Xi Lee, Sean Slade

How Can Teachers Meet Common Core English Standards with English Language Learners? with Maria Montalvo-Balbed, Debbie Zacarian

Can We Effectively Evaluate Teachers Based on Factors Teachers Completely Control? with Ben Spielberg and Ted Appel

Student Engagement Versus Student Compliance: How Much Does It Really Matter? with Debbie Silver, Dr. Bryan Harris

What Are the Myths and Misconceptions Around Formative Assessment? with Nancy Frey

How Can We Help Students Appreciate the Value of Learning Geography? Elisabeth Johnson, Kelly Young

Close Reading: What It Is, What It’s Not with Chris Lehman

Accountability: What are the Alternatives to Using Test Scores for Teacher Evaluations? with Julian Vasquez Heilig, Ph.D., Ben Spielberg

How Can We Make Math More Engaging and Accessible to Students? with Dr. Anne M. Collins, Sue O’Connell

What Is the Best Way to Train Student Teachers? with Emily Geltz, Linda Rief

How Can Teachers Best Manage Race and Class Issues In Schools?  with P. L. Thomas, Ashanti Foster

Second Thoughts: Teacher Attire, Does it Really Matter? with Roxanna Elden, Renee Moore

How Is Globalization Changing How and What You Teach? with  John Spencer, Diana Laufenberg

How Can Teachers Meet the Common Core Requirement for Complex Reading? with Amy Benjamin, Wendi Pillars

What Are We Losing By Eliminating Arts From the Curriculum? with Virginia McEnerney, David Booth

What Can We Do to Develop a Culture of Success in our Classrooms? with Heather Wolpert-Gawron, Chris Lehman

How Can History Teachers Make the Curriculum More Engaging? Peter Pappas, Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez

What Are the Best Ways for Teachers to Work With School Counselors? with Leticia Gallardo, Mindy Willard

How Can We Help Students (And Ourselves) Stay Organized? with Julia Thompson , Ariel Sacks

How Can Administrators Help Create an Engaging Curriculum with Anne Reeves, Kelly Young

Dissecting Grades: What Do They Mean, What Are They Worth? with Rick Wormeli

How Can We Help Students Handle Loss and Grief? with Mary Tedrow, Stephen Lazar

How Can We Differentiate Instruction More Effectively? with Carol Tomlinson

What Are the Real Benefits of a 1:1 Program? What Are the Biggest Challenges? with Alice Barr, Dr. Troy Hicks

How Can We Get All Students in Our Classes Thinking and Learning All the Time? with Bill and Pérsida Himmele, Jim Peterson

What Are the Five Best Practices to Promote Better Student Learning with Diana Laufenberg, Jeff Charbonneau

What Do We Need to Do to Better Support English Language Learners? with Karen Nemeth, Judie Haynes

How Can We Reduce Teacher Attrition at High-Poverty Schools? with Barnett Berry, Ilana Garon

Why Precisely Do Teachers Leave High Poverty Schools? with Angel L. Cintron Jr. and Paul Bruno

What Are the Habits of Lifelong Readers, How Do We Instill Them? with Donalyn Miller

What Are the Basics Every Teacher Should Know About the Maker Movement? with Sylvia Martinez, Tanya Baker

Character, Grit, Perseverance: Magic Bullet? with Jason Flom and Debbie Silver

How Do We Increase Involvement Among Parents Who Are Already Overwhelmed? with Darcy Hutchins and Mai Xi Lee

March 19, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

My New Podcast: “How Can We Get All Students in Our Classes Thinking & Learning All the Time?


How Can We Get All Students in Our Classes Thinking and Learning All the Time? is the topic of my latest nine-minute BAM! Radio podcast (it will also be a topic next month in my Education Week Teacher column).

My guests are Bill and Pérsida Himmele, and Jim Peterson.

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