Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

July 16, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Q & A Collections: Classroom Management Advice”

Q & A Collections: Classroom Management Advice is my latest Education Week Teacher column.

Links to all classroom management posts from the past four years can be found there.

Here’s an excerpt from one of them:


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

June 10, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Study: “Authoritative,” Not “Authoritarian,” Classroom Management Works Best For Boys

A couple of years ago, I wrote about what I thought was a pretty important study (see Parental Style Study Makes Sense For Teachers, Too). It found that parents who were authoritative — strict, but relational, listeners, etc — were more successful in raising kids who were self-reliant and self-controlled than those who were authoritarian.

A new study was released today that reinforced that conclusion for the classroom – especially for boys. You can read a summary in Science Daily or read the entire research paper itself (it’s not behind a paywall).

Here’s an excerpt:


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

May 27, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: “Do” Is Better Than “Don’t”

I’ve previously written about how I apply research that shows using “positive-framed” messages instead of “loss-framed” ones.

Here’s an excerpt of what I’ve written earlier about researchers learning:

that “loss framed messages” (if you do this, then something bad will happen to you) really don’t have the “persuasive advantage” that they are thought to have. In fact, positive-framed messages (if you do this, all this good stuff will happen to you) are more effective, particularly in changing people’s health behaviors.

Researchers suggest the reason is because people “don’t like to be bullied into changing…behavior.” This is similar to the reason why incentives don’t work to increasing behavior that requires higher-order thinking — people don’t want to feel like mice in a maze (I heard that in a podcast interview with Daniel Pink a few months ago).

It certain reflects my experience with classroom management. I’ve had much better success talking with students about how changing their behavior will help them achieve their goals (passing a class, graduating from high school, going to college, etc.) than with threatening negative consequences (though, admittedly, in a few circumstances, that might work and I’ve used it).

A new study released today reinforced these same findings. Here’s an excerpt:


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.

March 24, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Another Excerpt From My New Book: “Why Viewing Classroom Management as a Mystery Can Be Helpful”

Why Viewing Classroom Management as a Mystery Can Be Helpful is a short excerpt from my new book, and it’s appearing in Education Week.

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

January 17, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Positive Classroom Management Strategies – Part One”

Positive Classroom Management Strategies – Part One is my latest post at Education Week Teacher. It’s the first of a four-part series.

Today, educators Bryan Harris, Marcia Imbeau, Pernille Ripp, Gianna Cassetta, Brook Sawyer and Julia Thompson share their advice on implementing positive classroom management strategies.

Here are some excerpts:






December 8, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Posts, Articles & Videos Explaining Why Punishment Is Often Not The Best Classroom Strategy

I’ve written a lot about my belief in a positive, not punitive, classroom management strategy. You can read my books and The Best Posts On Classroom Management to get a better sense of how I practice what I preach.

I thought readers might find it helpful, though, if I pulled out many of my prior posts specifically on the typical ineffectiveness of punishment. Of course, there are some serious offenses that warrant it, and sometimes, when nothing else has seemed to work, I have asked students to help develop a “punishment” that they think would deter them from repeating an inappropriate behavior.

The vast majority of the time, however, I don’t find punishment to be particularly helpful to get what I want out of students, which is for them to behave as responsible members of a learning community.

Here are some resources explaining why that is the case (feel free to contribute more):

Punishing kids for lying just doesn’t work is from Science Daily.

“People who are angry pay more attention to rewards than threats” — No Kidding!

“Anger At Our Children” (Or Our Students)

Collective Punishment In The Classroom

Whenever You’re Tempted To Use Punishment As A Classroom Management Tool, Remember This Comic Strip

This Is What Students Learn When We Use Punishment As Our Classroom Management Strategy

Another Shocker – NOT! Students Respond Better To Support Than Threats

A Little Respect Can Go A Long Way In The Classroom

Being Reminded Of The Consequences Of Losing Self-Control Doesn’t Help; Asking About Goals Does

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

“The Darn Thing’s Not Working”

Keeping Our Eyes On The Wrong Prize

“Detentions make no difference, pupils claim”

Surprise, Surprise – Punishment May Not Be The Best Parenting (Or Teaching) Strategy

What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong? is from Mother Jones.

Eureka Alert reports that “Adolescents focus on rewards and are less able to learn to avoid punishment or consider the consequences of alternative actions, finds a new UCL-led study.”

December 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Extrinsic Motivation In My Classroom

I’m a big advocate of intrinsic motivation in classroom management and a big opponent of the extrinsic kind, but I’ve always said in this blog and in my books that extrinsic motivation does have a place in the real world of our classrooms. The key is that it has to be kept in its place, too.

Often, part of keeping it in its place is being strategic about how it’s introduced and having an “exit plan” to get away from it.

Here’s an example of how I’m using the extrinsic kind of motivation in my classroom these days.

“John” is a great kid and wants to do the “right” thing, and he’s easily distracted. His distraction can be quite disruptive in class. I had tried just about every intrinsic tool in my tool box (see My Best Posts On “Motivating” Students), and nothing had worked.

One day awhile back, I pulled him out of one of his classes during my free period to chat. We discussed how easily he was distracted by others and, how other students knew they could easily get a reaction from him. It turned into a very productive conversation about “Why Do You Let Others Control You?”

From the very beginnings of our conversations about the issue earlier in the year, he’s been clear that he wanted to change, but nothing had worked. However, this “take” on being controlled by others seemed to really hit a chord, and he seemed particularly motivated to turn things around that day.

I proposed that we put a “post-it” on his desk each day, and that every time he didn’t react to someone trying to provoke him he would put a mark on it. He would receive ten extra credit points for each mark. It would be an honor system — I wouldn’t ask him what he did to “earn” each mark. He would turn it in at the end of each class and receive his extra credit. We discussed, though, how this wasn’t going to be a long term solution. Instead, it would a “bridge” to help him develop his self-control and to become more aware of his actions and, if it worked well, in a few weeks we’d stop it.

He was very enthusiastic.

The experiment has been going on for a couple of weeks, and has been remarkably successful so far. Even though he is not required to tell me what he’s done to “earn” his extra credit points, he pulls me over one-to-four times during each class period to quickly tell me about what provocations he’s recently resisted. His classroom behavior, though not perfect, is now more like that of a typical ninth-grade student. When he regresses, I just say his name and tap his desk or do one or the other, and he immediately says something like “Oh yeah” and stops the targeted behavior. I periodically ask him how he’s feeling about how he’s been handling himself, and it’s clear that he’s proud of his change.

My plan is to continue the experiment for a couple of more weeks, and then initiate a discussion with him about moving off the point system. My hope is, that like other times when I’ve used extrinsic motivators for classroom management, he’ll welcome that recognition that he’s become a more mature young man in control of his emotions and surroundings.

We’ll see. I’ll keep readers posted.

And, of course, I’m always eager to hear reactions and suggestions on how I can more effectively handle this situation.

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

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