Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

October 30, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“Oh, I Get It! If You Send Me Out, Then I’m Being Bad; If I Send Me Out, Then I’m Being Good!”

I write about positive classroom management strategies a lot (see The Best Posts On Classroom Management) and I’m always learning through everyday challenges.

One student this year is a great kid who is very energetic and can get distracted and somewhat disruptive at times. We’ve talked and experimented a lot, and have found that when he reaches that point, his going outside — to get a drink, got the restroom, or just walk for a minute or two — helps him get some energy out of his system and then is focused when he returns.

Now, we’re at the point where I’d like him to develop more of his own self-control (see The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control) so that he doesn’t wait for me to send him out. Instead, he begins to see the warning signs and goes out on his own (after giving me a subtle sign that he’s headed out).

Yesterday, we started talking about it at lunchtime and, after a few seconds, an excited look of understanding came on his face and exclaimed, “Oh, I get it! If you send me out, then I’m being bad; if I send me out, then I’m being good!”

We spoke a little more about how it’s a little more nuanced than good/bad, but that basically, yes, he got it. During class a half-hour later, he was beginning to get distracted and pointed outside. I nodded, he went out, returned a minute later, and was great the rest of the class.

One day does not a solution make but, perhaps, with a daily reminder at the beginning of class, this might work…

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September 29, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Excellent List Of Eleven “Classroom Discipline Mistakes”

Marvin Marshall, a great writer on positive classroom management, has published an excellent list of eleven “Classroom Discipline Mistakes.”

You definitely want to read them all, but here are his first three:


Teachers become stressed by reacting to inappropriate behavior. It is far more effective to employ a proactive approach to inspire students to want to behave responsibly and then use a non-adversarial response when they don’t.


Rules are meant to control—not inspire. Rules are necessary in games; however, when used between people, rules create adversarial relationships. Relying on rules is a major contributor to the punishment culture in many schools today. The reason simple: If a student violates a rule, the teacher automatically moves into an enforcement mode. A mindset of rules leads to a punishment mindset, whereas a mindset of procedures promotes a coaching approach that inspires responsible behavior through expectations and reflection. View the effect of relying on rules


Obedience does not create desire. A more effective approach is to promote responsibility; obedience then follows as a natural by-product.

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

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September 8, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

NEA Today Unexpectedly Runs Article Featuring Classroom Practice Of…Me?


More Teachers Adopting Restorative Discipline Practices is the title of an NEA Today story that unexpectedly features my classroom practice.

I had a short email interaction with the writer over the summer, but hadn’t thought much would come of it.

You might find it interesting.

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

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August 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“The Dos and Don’ts of Classroom Management: Your 25 Best Tips”


Apparently, long ago when, for awhile, I moderated a classroom management forum at Edutopia, I invited readers to share their best classroom management tips.

Well, Edutopia just put them all together in a a nice slideshow that I think readers will find useful.

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

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August 7, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Good Classroom Management Advice: “The Person Who Asks The Questions Controls The Conversation”

If a student an I are having a bad day — a fortunately rare coincidence, but one that nevertheless still happens — sometimes our conversation can denigrate into one that is not helpful to anyone.

Marvin Marshall, who writes a lot about positive classroom management techniques, offers some good advice in that situation:

The Person Who Asks The Questions Controls The Conversation

In other words, if the conversation is going south, asking a question could be one way to get it on track again — “What do you think we should do about this situation?”; “What do you think would help fix this problem?”; “How is what is happening now contributing to any goal you have for the future?”; “How could we deal with this situation in a way that would help you achieve a goal you want for the future?”

Obviously, students can offer retorts that are not constructive to any of those questions, too, but the strategy is worth keeping in mind.

As is other advice Marvin has offered, which I think is the best classroom management guidance I’ve ever heard:

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?

Do you have any good one-sentence classroom management advice that’s good and easy for teachers to remember?

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

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August 4, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Detentions make no difference, pupils claim”


As any regular reader of this blog or my books knows, I’m not a big fan of using punishment in the classroom (you can see many of my previous posts on the topic here).

I know they have their role in very serious offenses, but I’ve been fortunate enough in my teaching career to be able to “cut off at the pass” most of those serious offenses before they’ve become a reality. I’m no saint, however, and each year I usually send less than a handful of students to the office just to get them out of class that day — it usually happens when their bad day coincides with me having a bad day.

A new study just came out in the United Kingdom where they surveyed students about effective punishments, and they said detentions weren’t much of a deterrent. I’m certainly more than a little skeptical of a student survey on this topic, but it’s still not a surprising result. The survey found that the teacher contacting home was more effective, and I’ve definitely found that to be true. One of my favorite interventions, though, is to NOT call home after misbehavior. Instead, I tell him/her that I know they can step-up, and that I am going to call home in a week’s time. I’d like to be able to say great things about them to their parents, and they have a week to show me. And I’ll tell the parents whatever I see happening over the next week. Without fail, the student is on the ball for the next way and usually far beyond that time…

What do you think of using detention?

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April 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Surprise, Surprise — Study Finds Shouting At Children “creates further discipline problems”


To few teachers surprise, a new study has found that shouting at children is counter-productive. You can read all about it at Shouting at children ‘increases their behaviour problems’ in the British newspaper, The Telegraph.

There have been plenty of studies (and years of countless teachers experience) that have found the same thing (you can find out more at The Best Posts On Classroom Management).

Do I sometimes raise my voice at my class? Of course, we’re all human. But, fortunately, I seldom do so.

I just don’t understand why some continue to use shouting as a part of their classroom management strategy.

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January 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

How To Turn A Negative Consequence Into A Positive Classroom Management Strategy

'Let's talk about classroom management #ESL. #clilrocks,' photo (c) 2013, Lui Palacios - license:

Anyone who has regularly read this blog or my books know that I’m a big believer in “positive,” not “punitive,” classroom management strategies (see The Best Posts On Classroom Management).

At the same time, however, there are some occasions that negative consequences are called for — for “serious” offenses and for those times (and for those students) when all the positive classroom management tools in one’s toolbox aren’t working.

A key issue, though, is how — in those situations — can we maximize the chances of making a negative consequence part of a positive classroom management strategy….

I’ve written extensively about one way to do it — see a previous post (see Have You Ever Taught A Class That Got “Out Of Control”? and in my books where, in one, I devoted an entire chapter to that particular strategy).

Another way is doing what a number of teachers do — when an offense is committed, asking the student what consequence they think is appropriate.

Recently, though, I’ve tried a different version of that second strategy — instead of waiting for the offense to happy, engaging with students in advance about what negative consequence would get them to think twice about committing the offense.

Two of my students — good kids — have had a very difficult time controlling themselves. For months, I had tried every tool in my toolbox, but nothing seemed to work.

Then, in an individual and private conversation with each, I asked how much time out of our fifty-five minute class they felt they were focused on what we were studying. Each of them replied — quite accurately — about twenty minutes. We sort of repeated what we had gone over in previous meetings — talking about what they wanted to do in the future, how self-control and “grit” was important in making those future dreams happen, etc. I shared my frustration that we had tried many things in the past, including many of their suggestions — changing seats, stress balls, etc. — and nothing had seemed to work. I told them I wanted to continue to be flexible and positive, and it had also reached the point that I wanted to explore negative consequences.

I asked what would be a negative consequence that they thought would deter them from their typical misbehavior — what would they remember to keep in mind that would make them think twice about acting out in class? Both identified an immediate call to their parents, and we worked out how I would be able to get a hold of them. Then, I asked them what positive behavior interventions they thought had been more effective, and asked each to develop a sequence of escalating interventions. They each said they would like to try a permanent seat change (which we had tried before) to see if that would help, and they chose the seat. They said if they were acting out, they would want to be sent out of class for a few minutes, which I agreed to (though I told each that I would rather they took responsibility and went out on their own when they felt they were “losing it” instead of waiting for me to tell them).

If those didn’t work, they then said I should immediately call home and tell their parents how they were behaving.

Since that conversation, we’ve done the seat changes, and neither has chosen to go outside or had to be sent outside, and I’ve also not had to call home, either. It appears that it took them identifying a potential negative consequence in order for the positive strategies to work.

It’s not a strategy I would use all the time, but it’s just another tool in my teacher’s toolbox.

I guess in classroom management a positive plus a potential negative can sometimes equal a positive….

I know teachers have used this kind of process in developing class rules and consequences, but the idea of trying it in advance individually was a new one for me…

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January 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Start Off The New Year With This Excellent Classroom Advice

'Be Positive' photo (c) 2008, Paul Hamilton - license:

I’ve written a lot about Marvin Marshall’s positive classroom management advice.

Here are a couple of his recent posts that I think are particularly good to reflect on as we begin a new year:

One is titled Relationships Reduce Discipline Problems. It emphasizes the importance of relationships and shares a number of questions we should ask ourselves. Here’s a small sampling:

Dr. Phelps Wilkins, former long-time principal at Eisenhower School in Mesa, Arizona, shared with me some questions he asked the staff to think about in their relationships with students, particularly those that require frequent discipline. As you read them, think about your most challenging youth.

Through my behavior:

◾Does this child know he is safe with me no matter what happens—that he will never be ridiculed, put down, or made to feel small?

◾Has this child experienced success in some meaningful manner on a regular basis in my classroom?

◾Is the youngster developing a feeling of confidence?

His other post has the title Motivation and Discipline.

In it, he briefly discusses three ways to help engage students: creating curiosity, creating desire, and providing encouragement.

I’m adding this info to:

The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students

The Best Posts On Classroom Management

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December 25, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Classroom Management Advice From Pope Francis

Last week, I posted What “School Reformers” — And All Of Us — Can Learn From Pope Francis About Creating Change, which highlighted a quote from a recent New Yorker article about the Pope.

Here’s another quote from the Pope that appeared in the same article. I think it can also serve as a good guideline for effective classroom management:


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December 22, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Posts & Articles On Boredom & How Students & Teachers Can Deal With It

'boring activities' photo (c) 2010, sanickels - license:

A year or two ago, I published a couple of posts about student boredom, and a lesson I do with students to help them think about it a bit differently.

In the past month, boredom seems to have become a “thing” and a couple of new articles have been written about the topic, which I will be including in my lesson.

I thought I’d bring them all together into a “Best” list:

First, here are links to my two posts:

Have You Ever Had A Student Say “ Is Boring”? Here’s A Lesson On It I’m Trying Out Tomorrow

“ Is Boring” — Part Two

Here are the newer ones:

There’s a New Type of Boredom, and Everyone Is Feeling It is from Mashable.

Bored to Death: To learn just how bored kids are in school, look at Twitter is by Amanda Ripley at The New Republic.

How Do Teachers Want Students to Cope with Boredom? is from ASCD.

Let me know if you have posts I should add to list…

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December 10, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Flowchart For When A Day Goes Bad In Classroom Management”

As regular readers of this blog and my books know, I love teaching at our school.

Nevertheless, it is not a “walk in the park.” One hundred percent of our students receive a free breakfast and lunch, and many face other challenges inherent in the inner-city. Sometimes those challenges play-out in the classroom.

One of my classes has been a bit challenging classroom management-wise for me recently and it reached a crescendo last week. When one of those days happens, I will typically become frustrated and then angry, and every ounce of my being will want to punish. However, probably the key classroom management lesson I’ve learned over the years is that — more often than not — punishment will make things worse (of course, there are extreme cases when punishment is certainly necessary), so I am usually able to control that impulse.

Instead, I will jettison my lesson plan and redirect students into some less intensive learning activity that I know they will want to do (a game, get into their book discussion groups) and then make arrangements with teachers of the most egregious offenders to pull them out for several minutes the next day during my free period so I can have a one-on-one reflective conversation with them. For example, we’ll talk about what their goals are and how their behavior is hurting or helping to achieve them — if they want to be an Ultimate Fighter, not being able to show self-control is going to create problems. We’ll revisit some of the life skill lessons we’ve done and talk about what they think might help them develop more self-control (change seats, take their work outside if they feel they are “losing it,” get a stress ball, etc.).

Fortunately, these really bad classroom management days don’t happen very often but, when they do, my using this strategy has always worked, and I know it has worked better than what would have happened if I took the punishment route.

It fits into what I consider the best piece of classroom management advice I’ve ever read. It came from Marvin Marshall:

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?

This really brings me to the main point of this post. In reflecting on all this over the past few days as I’ve seen — again — how effective this strategy can be, I thought I’d try putting it into a simple and rough flowchart.

Check it out here and let me know what you think and how it can be improved (I’m not sure if it will come through in an RSS Reader:

Classroom management flowchart

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November 22, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Simple & Effective Classroom Lesson On Gratitude

'gratitude' photo (c) 2009, hurricanemaine - license:

I’ve written in my books and here on my blog how I use the concept of “gratitude” in class (see The Best Resources On “Gratitude”).

Today, my colleague Katie Hull did a simple and powerful lesson using one of the resources on that “Best” list and I thought I’d share it here.

It’s based on an experiment and video that “Soul Pancake’ did (the video is on that list, but I’ve also embedded again in this post).

Katie gave her students this writing prompt (which is very similar to the question used in the video):

Close your eyes and think of somebody who is really influential in your life and/or who matters to you. Why is this person so important?

She also shared what she had written about her father as a model. After students wrote it, and shared in partners, she showed the video. Then, she encouraged people to to share what they wrote with the person they wrote about — in fact, some students felt they wanted to share it right then by calling.

Tears were shed.

One girl insisted on calling her mother in class, and then the class pushed Katie to call her father right then and there and read what she wrote.

A powerful lesson to kick-off Thanksgiving break….

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November 15, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Collection Of Tweets From First Week’s Chat On Classroom Management”

I’ve just posted a collection of tweets over at Education Week summarizing the first week’s chat on classroom management and my new Ed Week book on that topic.

There’s a fair amount of useful information there.

And there’s a second, and final, week to go in the discussion!

classroom-management-qa-larry-ferlazzo (1)

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November 9, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

No, L.A. School Reformers, Grit Does Not Equal Giving Students Rewards & Being Data-Driven

'Perserverance' photo (c) 2008, Wesley Fryer - license:

Anyone who has read my blog or my books knows that I’m a big supporter of Social Emotional Learning, including helping students develop “grit” (see The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit” and the grit lessons and strategies in my books).

I’ve also been critical of “school reformers” who try to hijack Social Emotional Learning to further objectives that I don’t believe are helpful to our schools (see my Washington Post piece, Why schools should not grade character traits, and New Research Shows Why Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Character Education Are Not Enough.

The latest example of grit “manipulation” is a new report from an L.A. school reform group issuing a report titled True Grit: The game-changing factors and people lifting school performance in LAUSD. Though there are a few good ideas in it, much of the report emphasizes very un-gritty ideas like giving students and teachers rewards and being data-driven through “dynamic data” (see The Best Resources Showing Why We Need To Be “Data-Informed” & Not “Data-Driven”). According to the report, building grit is a hodgepodge of scores of different ideas that support the group’s school reform agenda.

Uh, no. Helping our students develop grit involves encouraging them to identify their own goals, providing them materials to learn the research behind grit and how it can be useful to them in achieving those goals, and offering support so they can develop the intrinsic motivation to hang in there when they going gets rough or to have the informed judgment necessary to know when to adjust those goals.


Jeez, sometimes it seems to me that as soon as some “school reformers” hear about a good idea, they want to take it, manipulate it to their own ends, and crush the life out of it (see Gates Foundation Minimizing Great Tools For Helping Teachers Improve Their Craft and Videotaping teachers the right way (not the Gates way) ).

You can read more about it at The Hechinger Report.

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November 6, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Getting A Special Wristband Is Not The Best Road To Greater Student Motivation

'SD019' photo (c) 2009, China Sources - license:

An article about a Florida high school providing special wristbands to academically eligible students which lead to special privileges is getting a lot of attention this week:

Tyler Minnick showed off his school-issued yellow rubber bracelet with pride.

It bore just two words — “on track.” To Minnick, it represented more than a wrist accessory.

It meant he had earned enough credits to be on the way to an on-time graduation while also meeting his school’s attendance, discipline and grade-point expectations. With that came the reward of being able to go to the media center without a signed pass, a real prize for this avid reader who admits to often losing his paper library passes.

“It’s really helpful,” the Land O’Lakes High senior said of his school’s new incentive program. “It’s hitting the point where it’s giving me the slap on the back to get going, even work for a blue (‘highly on track’) wristband.”

Year in and year out, Land O’Lakes High consistently has ranked among Pasco County’s top performers when it comes to graduation rates and other academic markers. That didn’t stop school leaders from striving for even better.

No, no, no!

I’m sure the leaders of that school are well-intentioned, but, boy oh boy, are they sending the wrong message. Besides bearing similarities to the infamous controversy of a couple of years in a high school that gave color-coded IDs based on student test scores (see The Best Resources To Learn About High School ID’s & The Scarlet Letter), they are telling students they should try to do better for more trinkets, not trying to help them develop intrinsic motivation. Jeez, don’t we have enough extrinsic motivators already in school? How are these wristbands going to help them after they graduate? Perhaps a few lessons on grit, deliberate practice, goal-setting, etc. might be the better way to go?

In a desperate situation, and I’ve had a few, I’m all for short-term extrinsic motivation with an exit plan, but that certainly doesn’t sound like this school’s situation.

I’ve got to wonder if the impetus behind this is increasing test scores. If that’s the case, too bad they haven’t read about the research finding that short-term focus on test score increases results in longer-term damage.

If you want to learn more about the dangers of this kind of extrinsic motivation, you can read The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students, my Washington Post article titled “Bribing students: Another ‘magical solution’ that doesn’t work,” or my two books on the subject.

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