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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?

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.

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…

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

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:


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.

A Great Piece On Student Boredom & The Writing Prompt I’m Using With It

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