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Classroom Management Forum

2007 Archive


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professional development trainingHere's a comprehensive archive of all past posts from 2007– with all our suggestions for classroom management strategies, defiance-busters, bad attitude-adjusters, attendance builders, classroom discussion methods, truancy-stoppers, respect builders, delinquency prevention tools, social skill enhancers, and even creative deterrents to dropping out. Plus, you will find answers for every imaginable classroom management concern.

Teaching doesn't has to be so difficult with the tips, tricks and social skill techniques included in our 2007 classroom management archive. Classroom management problems stop here. You don't have to hassle emotional, social and behavioral problems for much of each day if you simply keep reading.






inservice presenterAnswers written by
Author, Keynote Speaker
and Trainer
Ruth Herman Wells, M.S.





Date: 2007-11-30 08:44:24 Name: Jane Ginter Subject: Bullying in schools Job Title: Social Worker Number: 17

I run a group for teens who are in a juvenile diversion program. I hear about the bullying and fights that the teens get into because of it. The schools sound like survival of the fittest, with kids belittling and threatening other kids over ANYTHING. Often they do it in packs. If a kid is picked on for a long period of time and then fights back, even if jumped, he is arrested. What is the answer? What can I do? Kids say if they tell someone they are seen as weak and this compounds the problem. Should I go to the superintendents of these schools? I get so angry at the school for allowing any kid to be subject to this. The teens say if there is a fight the teachers- and even the school resource officers- turn their backs. This is all normal behavior to the teens, but I see the damage. Some do not want to go to school. Others are insecure. Others must develop a tough exterior. Again, what can I do?

Hello there. I remember you from a class somewhere in the mid-west. You describe an out-of-control environment. That breeds more out-of-control behavior, and on and on endlessly. It may take a scary event to stop it, or you can attempt to get the powers-that-be to recognize that possibility and head it off. The staff need to learn about conduct disorders, a group that I am sure you remember from the workshop. As you know, CDs are the most unmanageable and dangerous students, and they love to exploit any weaknesses in your system. Since CDs have little internal management, they need prompt, firm external help to be in control. Since your staff do not do that, you can see why I fear a disaster. Do your best to alert your staff to potential disaster, and hope they hear you, then train them on how to correctly work with CDs, which I am sure you remember from the workshop. Please stay in touch, Jane! I am very concerned about your situation so let me know how I can help.


Date: 2007-11-27 16:21:56 Name: Julie Subject: Disruptive behavior Job Title: 1st grade teacher Number: 16

I have a first grade student that is disruptive to me and the class. He calls myself and peers names; stupid, jerk, etc. Constantly making noises and rude gestures. When he is uncontrollalbe he will throw chairs and push tables, hit and kick. This behavior is not provoked by other students. He does not like time out and to be sent out of the room. He is labeled OHI and is going to go through an intense evaluation. But in the meantime, what do you do with a student that is disruptive and violent in ways to harm himself or others?

I could have used a bit more information before answering. I wish I could have asked you some questions, but I think the best bet is to have you quickly learn about conduct disorders through two Introductory articles. These articles cover two other types of acting-out students so you can have that information as well. If that introductory information sounds on target, order our online class or book on conduct disorders right away. Our All the Best Answers for the Worst Kid Problems Conduct Disorder book  and Control the Uncontrollable Student online class will both guide you on what to do, and what not to do. You must work with conduct disordered children differently than everybody else. That is why it is critical that you learn those methods right away. Expect his behavior to deteriorate otherwise if my guess (that's all it is, not for sure) is correct and you continue to work without having the right methods. Again, I really needed more and different info to get feel for child so only use these ideas if they seem to fit what you see.


Date: 2007-11-14 22:16:34 Name: Clare Subject: Out of control behavior kindergarten Job Title: teacher Number: 15

I have a kindergarten student with diagnosis of attachment disorder, ADHD, ODD, sensory integration dysfunction and the latest one of bipolar disorder. I teach in a general education setting. This student will have two to three days were we are able to maintain her in the classroom, however on the days we are not the behaviors escalate to complete loss of control, eloping, kicking, attempting to bite, clearing a tabletop and knocking over or throwing chairs. We are working on referrals to a more therapeutic environment, but in the meantime need to maintain her in the current setting. We haven't been able to identify consistent triggers for these episodes and have not been able to come up with consistent strategies to calm her. Rarely we are able to return her to the classroom after an episode, which can last up to 1-1/2 hours. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

I am going to say the same things I have said before about students with amazingly long lists of serious diagnostic labels: I am skeptical that all the diagnoses are accurate. That makes it harder for me to get the gist of the student and to be of help, however here's what I suggest. First, she doesn't belong in a mainstream setting so you are asking me how to do the impossible. Second, to do the impossible, I suggest that you start by asking the student for more information if you haven't already about why she loses it, and what you can do to help. If she says "I don't know" you say "If you did know…" or reverse roles and try it that way. So, gather more information. Be sure to note what happened before event started and what you did to intervene. Watch for any pattern. If you are not sure how to respond, go a bit overboard on RELEVANT sanctions and see if it makes any difference at all. Be sure the sanctions are RELEVANT to child. Also experiment with positives. Start a list of positives and negatives that the student cares about to be ready. Top goal: Use your energy to move her to day treatment or similar.


Date: 2007-10-27 07:56:27 Name: Begoña Illán Subject: misbehaviour Job Title: 1st grade teacher Number: 14

Hi there! I am a first grade teacher and I have a student with behavioral problems. This child parents are divorced, and when the child sees his father his behaviour is outrageous. He runs in the classroom, talks out of turn, shouts out answers, hit classmates, …he completely break the pace of the class. Therefore, I would like to design an individual behaviour plan in order to motivate him and help him to achieve small goals. First, I would like to try it out with him, and then, if it works, give one to his mother, so we can help him out. Thank you

You didn't say if the child's behavior is fine except after visiting the father. If that is the case, then the student is obviously acting-out his distress. It isn't just a behavior issue, it is an emotional issue. The student needs help to manage whatever is distressing him. If he is struggling with some aspect of the divorce, that is a reasonable reaction, but you need to know more and care about more than just his behavior in class. If the boy is totally sad and shattered after a visit with his dad ends, you might handle that very differently than if the boy is upset that Dad wouldn't let him play computer games while visiting. Until you know more about what spurs the problem behavior, you can't really formulate an effective plan. When you make your plan, remember this boy is more than a student. He is a boy living through something painful and difficult. You can't manage his behavior and ignore his emotions. You have to look at both.


Date: 2007-10-10 10:49:57 Name: Ronnie Subject: What's the best first impression I can make? Job Title: Trainee teacher Number: 13

Hello there.

I am a primary school trainee and have been observing the class I am going to teach. They are 7-8 years old and from a fairly deprived area. Naturally they are a mixed ability class but the unusually, the brighter children tend to be the least focused or the ones who cause the most disruption. A couple in particular are constantly being moved (which just results in a shrug of the shoulders, a smirk or even more heightened disobedience). There are incentive schemes and award schemes in the classroom but rewards are taken away almost the moment they are given and rules are established and repeated daily but they are rarely adhered to. Is there any advice you can give me as a trainee- especially before i start in a few weeks. How do I begin to motivate these children? Just one bit of advice. On the whole the class has potential but it's just about getting them to believe it and maintaining their concentration and respect for one another.

Would you expect proficiency in an academic area without teaching the skills? Didn't think so. That is what you are doing in your classroom when you expect acceptable behavior but you don't teach it. Offering incentives, reminders, and all the things you mentioned are not teaching school behavior skills, just as offering incentives, reminders, etc. would not teach math or history. You are going to have to teach students to meet your expectations or else I promise on-going problems. Many of our hundreds of resources train children to be students, but here is just one that focuses on both classroom skills and motivation. It is called Behavior Change Handouts: Becoming a Motivated and Prepared Student. It's available as an ebook so you can easily obtain it even in the UK. With the current exchange rate, at just $28 U.S. it is a steal, plus it can solve your classroom management problems that otherwise will not go away.


Date: 2007-09-14 03:45:53 Name: Keri Hemmerling Subject: behavior/buzy bodies Job Title: First Grade Teacher Number: 11

I teach first grade in a low income neighborhood and my class this year is full of students who have little respect for themselves and others. A small group of three are the ring leaders who steal and fight frequently. During learning time, I spend more time teaching how to behave than the academics. I am sure I don't need to explain why that is frustrating. The classroom management plan I have in place deals with class and individual behavior. I use a stoplight to signal talking level that is acceptable. I use card flipping as individual consequences and I have a wide variety of rewards from coins that add up to store visits, book passes, and computer time. We are only three weeks into the school year and I have consulted with the counselor about my class almost three times each week. Please give me some advice on how I could change what I am doing to help these students understand their behavior.

11-14 percent of all students are conduct disorders. Only a counselor can diagnose this problem but anyone can be concerned about it, just as you can't diagnose ADHD but you know how to be concerned about it, and to adjust accordingly. You must work with conduct disorders (CDs) differently than everybody else. As you already discovered, conventional methods fail every time with your out-of-control students, and leave you with a classroom management mess. There are a smattering of resources for this on our site, but your best bet is to get all the tools you need on CDs from our book "All the Best Answers for the Worst Problems: Conduct Disorders". It's $15 and available as a book or instant ebook to print and read right away. That book explains exactly what to do and why. You'll discover that the rewards you've been using aren't enough, and why. Given your age group, you may be able to turnaround your classroom management problems quite rapidly.


Date: 2007-09-13 13:37:27 Name: Barney Dodge Subject: Posters for Classroom Management Job Title: Coordinator Special Ed Number: 10

I am looking for posters, especially ones that teach students how to behave in class so that classroom management won't be such a hassle. For example, no more MP3 player posters would be one I need. I also need some on motivation, waiting for help, all the stuff that can make classroom management so difficult with special ed students. Do you have anything like that or do you know where I could find classroom management posters like these if they exist? Thanks.

Classroom management posters are our specialty. Believe it or not, we have exactly what you are looking for on all counts. We do have posters on waiting for help. We also have the motivation posters you want, and they should make a difference in the classroom behavior your teachers see. We actually just put out a poster about what to bring to school, and yes, one does have an MP3/ipod type of player on it. That's Poster 61. We've had requests for social skills posters so our Public Displays of Affection (PDAs) posters are ready for sale too. There are several hundred posters in all, and we really are starting to cover almost any social, emotional, behavior management problem.


Date: 2007-09-13 12:14:21 Name: Sylvia Subject: Classroom Management Strategies Job Title: Teacher Number: 9

I am the end of my rope. No matter how much I scream, I live a classroom management nightmare nearly every day. I am all screamed out. I am desperate. Can you please explain what is going wrong with my classroom management? I am willing to try anything to get my classroom back in control. Do you have any immediately usable classroom management strategies?

I have to tell you that the screaming is making the problem worse and must stop right away. When you scream, that's like a student squealing when poked by a peer: the distressed reaction guarantees more poking. When you scream, you guarantee more bad behavior. So, that should be the first step to finding more sane and successful classroom management strategies. Second, you need to understand the students who are your worst classroom management nightmares. You must work with them differently than other students, and will fail using conventional strategies. Here is an article devoted just to alternatives to yelling at students. It's called "Improved Classroom Management Strategies." It explains what to do in more detail. I think these suggestions can help you find a more effective classroom management style.


Date: 2007-09-01 04:53:03 Name: Rose Subject: Getting the upper hand first off Job Title: substitute teacher Number: 8

I am a substitute teacher and go to a different school and class most days. Some days are good, some – well I wonder if I am in the right job. Have you got any tips or info on your site that I may have missed on things to do to get and keep the upper hand with the kids all day.

The most important element is to control problems before they happen. Conduct disordered students are your most seriously misbehaved youngsters. They constitute about 11-14% of most classrooms yet ordinary methods ALWAYS FAIL with them. They tend to be ring leaders so by controlling CDs, you have a headstart with everybody else. Get the whole story on CDs from our All the Best Answers– Conduct Disorders book. Good luck.


Date: 2007-08-17 03:06:36 Name: Christy Rhodes Subject: ideas for ODD/Bi-Polar, Schizophrenic student Job Title: ECE Resource Teacher Number: 7

I just received paperwork on a new student that states that this poor little boy has severe oppositional/defiant and aggressive tendencies, and multiple diagnoses (ODD, Bi-Polar, Schizophrenia). He is in fourth grade, but he has already been hospitalized 4 times, and the documentation from his last hospitalization stated that he made virtually no progress in the eight months he was there. So far (4 days into school), he has done fairly well, although my school has instituted a new program this year, so the first two weeks of school is dedicated to community building activities, a lot of which are fun and reinforcing. He still chooses to withdraw from a lot of these activities, which we haven't really pushed. Many times, he'll end up joining in with the group when he is allowed to choose whether he participates or not, and no big deal is made of either choice. I think I see work completion as being a major issue. I have read at least three experts statements say that this child does not respond in ways that are predictable, and that they were unable to help him. I can't accept this. Does anyone hae some ideas on how I might help this child be successful? I've set up a point sheet for him, and he has given me menu ideas for his points, most of which will involve allowing him to have activity choice in my resource room for 20 minutes using some of the things he enjoys (matchbox cars, computers, drawing.) I would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!

As a counselor, I have to say that the diagnoses you cite don't make sense to me. It's like saying someone has AIDS, cancer, the flu, a broken back, a broken arm, and leukemia– not problems that are often confused with one another. Nor, are these problems that normally happen at the same time. So, I don't think these wildly varying diagnoses are helpful. Having said that, I would teach the skills you want the child to do. Teach him step-by-step the nuts and bolts of accepting assignments, etc. just like you teach reading in steps or counting in steps. Also include some motivation-makers as they can help transform behavior much more quickly. Focusing on lowering anxiety and dealing with the work refusal all can build on the relaxed approach you've already started. Hope this helps.


Date: 2007-08-16 16:01:07 Name: Kristie Subject: My Assistant! Job Title: 1st Grade teacher Number: 6

My assistant just started in the school system last year. I was in Kindergarten then…now in 1st and really was not pleased last year with her negative attitude towards the children. She has a power problem, I believe! She yells and tries to embarrass the children… I in every way possible have tried to model and teach her how we discipline in the classroom. She does not show the children respect. I want to teach children (discipline) not discourage them and send them back into the misbehaving cycle. I know that only about 2% of "misbehaving" is really misbehaving and the other 98% is procedure issues, but how do I tell (have) my assistant change! I love children and have never really had any major problems with classroom management until now. She acts as if she hates her life and the children, but then turns around the same day and will love on them. I want the best for my students. It feels like I am having to manage my assistant more than my students. What do I do with a power hungry, demeaning, angry, demanding, unpleasant assistant. I want the children to flourish. I use a neutral tone, teaching consequences, neutral body language and I am not judgmental. HELP!

For me the hard part of the job wasn't the kids, it was the adults– so I really understand where you are coming from. You are probably not going to like this answer, and I suspect you knew what was coming. As the buck-stopper, the ultimate boss of that classroom, you have an obligation to rein in your assistant. As a mental health professional, let me assure you that she is doing damage. How would she– or you– feel if I told you that one of the kids she demeaned was beaten last night? Or hasn't seen Dad in three months? Or was raped? Since students often do not announce their distress we all have to teach or counsel as if we know what they are going through. Here is the standard you must give your assistant: If she wouldn't behave that way in front of the Channel 6 news cameras, then don't do it. Tell her that is your expectation and you will seek help from your boss if you observe anything less.


Date: 2007-08-02 15:26:50 Name: Jordan Subject: Back-to-school Job Title: High School Teacher Number: 5

Do you have any specific suggestions for what to do the first week or so of school to set the stage for good behavior in the classroom? We go back to school in early September so I have time to integrate any suggestions you make. I am looking for an article or how-to guide for behavior if you have anything like that for high school age students. Thanks in advance!

I suggest you start on building school skills and motivation from the moment students hit your campus. For school skills, include everything from how to ride the bus to how to sit at a desk; from how to talk to teachers to what to wear to school; from how to hear the homework assignment to how to arrive on time for class, and on and on and on. You also have to start with motivation because if students think school is a waste, they won't bother to learn the school skills you want to teach them. You need to be ready to cover any and all social, school, and behavioral problems, and if you do, you may actually prevent a lot of issues from ever even happening.


Date: 2007-08-01 12:38:49 Name: Beverly Number: 4 CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT HELL

Okay, it is only August and my students have only been back for about two weeks, and I am already to quit. I don't know where to start. They are tardy. They are bored. They are surly. They are nasty. They think they know it all already. I guess it is the rudeness that is the worst to deal with, a whole classroom full of rudeness. I need some catchy strategies to use right away. Do you have anything like that?

Youth Change is known for having thousands of potent, unusual, attention-grabbing strategies. We do cover all the problems you list, but I will offer you a strategy for your top concern, the rudeness. This intervention can be done verbally, but rather than type up a description of this method, I'm going to let you view it visually in poster form. You don't need to buy the poster, just take away the concept and use it verbally. This intervention is shown on this page– it is Poster 37. I hope you love this strategy. You can find more classroom management strategies and printable handouts covering all your problem areas in our Behavior Change Handouts. Let us know if we can be of more help. Good luck.


Date: 2007-08-01 12:30:45 Name: Stephen Graham Number: 3

We are trying to find out more about early violence in our elementary school age students, particularly boys. Our elementary school teachers are seeing a lot more serious bullying and much more violence than ever before. It also seems to be starting earlier. Do you cover that topic in your on-site workshops for elementary schools, or in general session presentations?

Yes, we do cover this issue in both our on-site school presentations, and also in the general session professional development seminars that we sponsor. The bad news is that the earlier a child is violent, the worse it bodes for their future. The good news is that if your teachers were well-equipped to assist young children who are very violent, they could have much more impact early on vs. intervening when the child is older and far less malleable. That is why it can be so effective to train your teachers to identify and intervene early with violent young children. Your staff need to use a special set of tools with these students however. One-size-fits-all interventions such as character ed are not only ineffective with some of these young students, but can exacerbate the situation. Contact us if you want more information on hosting an on-site inservice presentation, or let us know if you want details on sending staff to a general session workshop.


Date: 2007-07-27 16:39:36 Name: Jacie Unmotivated, Apathetic Students Number: 2

My teachers are fed up with students who are unmotivated, bored, disinterested, and apathetic in the classroom. Your site is huge. I may have missed something, but do you have any good motivational methods that I can quickly pass to teachers. The students are just coming back to school now, and they are already complaining that school is a waste!

You're right. The site is huge. Yes, you have surfed right by many great motivational methods. I guess the best place to start is checking out our motivational posters if you want some truly over the top interventions that are a real punch to the stomach. They are really compelling and perfect for older students, at-risk students, socially challenged kids, and many others. You don't have to buy the posters as most of them also make great verbal interventions or easy-to-do activities.The ideas shown on our  motivation posters will just make you so much more effective. If you want your solutions in one place not scattered through our big web site, then check out our books. Our Maximum-Strength Motivation-Makers: All the Best Answers for the Worst Kid Problems book or ebook is nothing but motivational strategy after motivational strategy. Overall, we probably have thousands of methods to motivate unmotivated students, with most being in our books and workshops. Hope this helps.


Date: 2007-07-27 14:09:34 Name: Suzanne Number: 1 EXTREME MISBEHAVIOR

I have some students that are absolutely vicious to their peers, to me, to everyone and nothing I do makes any different in their behavior. Character ed is just hopeless with them. What am I doing wrong?

Extreme Misbehavior? We get this question all the time. You need to learn about conduct disorders. You have to work with conduct disordered youngsters differently than everybody else. Start by reading the Introductory articles on the topic that are here and listed under "Blogs" in the navigation bar at the top of the page. You may be amazed at the results you can get once you understand that you must use a different set of methods with conduct disorders. You may find classroom management much easier.

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