Pop Quiz: Are You Using Yesterday’s Teacher Training with Today’s Students?


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Pop Quiz: Are You Using Yesterday's Teacher Training with Today's Students?



The Obama administration has already begun questioning whether contemporary teacher professional development training sufficiently prepares teachers to best educate contemporary students. As one of the nation's premier providers of innovative teacher professional development, we share that concern.

At our workshops, teachers often express dismay that their training did not adequately prepare them to win the race for the top. We also hear a lot of comments that educator training prepares teachers for a world where guns meant water pistols and gangs meant West Side Story. Many of our course participants say that conventional teacher training is stuck in the past, with an all-consuming focus on content, testing and theory.

Since practical training takes a back seat to the theoretical, many teachers are left feeling unprepared to manage today's students who present significantly greater behavioral, emotional, familial and social problems than youngsters in the past. If teachers can't manage these huge contemporary roadblocks to learning, then training on content, testing and theory is somewhat wasted. A teacher fighting a losing battle to stay in charge of an out-of-control classroom isn't able to effectively teach content– never mind test students on what they've learned.

Practical answers geared to work with today's students can help. If you have attended our professional development course or closely followed this internet magazine, you may find that you do have the answers you need to win our 21st century race for the top. Here's a quiz to test your teacher training, and your readiness for the 21st century classroom.


Teacher Training

Pop Quiz


1. Who is the hardest-to-manage, most potentially violent kid, and how must you work with him differently than everybody else?


  • Bonus Question: If you work with this hard-to-manage child using the same approaches you use with everyone else, what is likely to happen?


2. There may be just 3 major ways that kids can respond to adult directions. Name the 3 ways.


  • Bonus Question: What is the only effective way to get children to comply with adult directions?

3. Name the student most likely to drop out.

Bonus Question: What other problems will this child quite likely face?


4. Who are the kids at highest risk of extreme violence?


  • Bonus Question: Why do you work differently with each of these kids?


5. Other than violence prevention, name the single most important school readiness skill to teach to students. (Hint: Most schools don't have a formal plan to teach it, but they all require it)


  • Bonus Question: When is the time to teach this skill?


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Detailed, follow-up resources follow the Scoring section

"Conduct disorder" is a mental health term that essentially means that the child is sociopathic. A whopping 11-14% of today's students may be conduct disordered vs 2-3% years ago.That means you have at least one or two of these unmanageable youngsters in your classroom. Conduct disorders can be the 1% of students who take 99% of your time. While you can continue to successfully use relationship-based approaches with any other child, these methods inevitably fail with conduct disorders who, by definition, can't relate normally to others. Use yesterday's methods with conduct disorders and you will quickly discover "nothing works."


  • Bonus Question: If you use conventional relationship-based approaches with conduct disorders, it conveys to them that you do not understand them. It may be close to painting a target on your chest. Actions that are normally appropriate under some circumstances, such as giving one more chance, can be dangerous– even disastrous– with conduct disorders. If you do not know this child backwards and forwards, you may lack key tools to ensure your safety and the safety of other children.


2. The child can become OPPOSITIONAL. The child can CAPITULATE if coerced to do so. The child can comply; that's ACCEPTANCE.


  • Bonus Question: Acceptance is really the only way to gain compliance. Power-struggling with oppositional kids means everyone loses– especially you– as no adult ever wins a power struggle with a kid. If you must hassle and harass a kid into capitulating, that is not a positive way of interacting that will work in the "real" world. Plus, imagine the harm you might do hassling a troubled child by coercing compliance from them. Acceptance is the standard that works everywhere and won't damage even a very vulnerable child while gaining their compliance.


The dropout rate for teen moms is the worst for any group of students.

  • Bonus Question: Teen moms also have the highest risk of poverty of anyone, and have a high need for welfare services. Shouldn't every contemporary teacher know who is the one child at highest risk of dropping out, and be aware of the potential additional litany of woes?


Note how this answer is far more sophisticated and complex than the simple sound bites you hear in today's media. If a contemporary teacher doesn't know what these three mental health terms mean, that is a big impediment to ensuring safety.


  • Bonus Question: Each of these 3 children needs a very different kind of help. For example, the thought-disordered child might be able to benefit tremendously from medication, while there is no medicine for conduct disorders. Here is the bottom line: To best prevent extreme violence with today's students, teachers must understand how to work with different kids very differently.


If the student isn't in your classroom, you can't work your magic on them. Every school expects attendance, but while many sanction poor attendance, very few schools routinely teach basic attendance skills to students.


  • Bonus Question: Start teaching attendance skills on Day 1 of the school year. It's that important.


Teacher Training Quiz Scoring:

Score 1 point for each question or bonus question

8-10 Correct Answers
You're READY for the 21st Century Classroom

5-8 Correct Answers
You may be DUE for a teacher training update

0-4 Correct Answers
You may be OVERDUE for a teacher training update



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About Ruth Herman Wells

Author/Trainer Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. is the director of Youth Change Professional Development Workshops. In 2011, Ruth was rated as a Top 10 U.S. K-12 educational and motivational speaker by Speakerwiki and Speakermix. She is the author of several book series, a columnist, adjunct professor for two universities, and a popular keynote speaker and workshop presenter. Ruth's dozens of books includes Temper and Tantrum Tamers and Turn On the Turned-Off Student.