Author: deborah


This week, I’ve been at the American Association of School Libraries National Conference. Of course, the presentations and materials are focused on libraries, but any curriculum component (whether it be library or history or english) needs classroom management to succeed. I noticed how many of the curriculum projects we were introduced involved effective classroom management.

For example, a really neat project involved students working in a group to author and illustrate a graphic novel and podcast about the process. Before the students did anything on their project beyond a basic introduction they were taught a lesson on negotiation. Next, they were taught how to create a podcast, using their new-found skills in negotiation to create, edit, and post their podcast in a manner that the entire group could agree on. The topic of their podcast? Their goals for the project and…. Negotiation!

How powerful would it be to include this type of lesson (or review) at the beginning of each long-term project. Remind students of how to work together before putting them in groups. Classroom management is only effective when students are taught, and then practice!


Dan Pink’s TED talk on motivation is focused on business, but it can teach us a lot about motivation in the classroom as well. In the classroom, we often think of motivation and incentives as one and the same, but they aren’t. Incentives are something we offer in exchange for a job completed, motivation is internal. Motivation must be self-directed. We can’t hand a student motivation; but we can hand them an incentive.

What does this mean for the classroom? As a librarian, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of incentives is the reading incentive program. A few years ago I read a study that said when we offer incentives for reading we end up with fat kids who don’t like to read. Why did they say that? Because incentive programs are a carrot on a stick; when the individual being offered the incentive reaches their goal, they get the carrot, but there’s no reason for them to continue to do the job after that. When you offer kids incentives to read, you teach them to work toward an incentive, rather than to read for its own sake.

In the classroom we think about teaching skills, but ultimately what we want to do is teach students to succeed in our society. We want them to have the cognitive and problem solving skills to be successful in whatever field they choose to pursue. Pink points out two things that I believe are critical this process: 1) incentives work on mechanical, follow-the-directions, tasks. They do not work on tasks that require critical thinking. 2) That the key to success is intrinsic motivation, the desire to do a good job because a good job is what one wants to do.

I think we can learn a lot from this approach. Incentives aren’t bad, they have value, but there’s a time and a place for them, and it’s not when we’re trying to get kids to learn.

Class Dojo

I haven’t used this tool myself, as I’m not in a classroom right now, but I’ve heard rave reviews. Definitely worth a look!

PBIS at Joy Elementary School

PBIS stands for Positive Behavior Intervention & Supports. In 2010, Joy Elementary School implemented a PBIS program. I had the honor of being on the school-wide PBIS team.

What makes PBIS unique is its focus on school-wide implementation and results, and its focus on school-wide participation. When we started the PBIS process, all the school staff (teachers, aides, maintenance crew, etc.) got together to agree on 4 common values we wanted to teach our students. At the end of the meeting we had our Cub Code: be responsible, be respectful, be safe, and be involved.

Within the first week of school, you could stop a student in the hall and ask them to recite the cub code, but it didn’t end there. To make sure that students understood what those terms meant and were able to apply them to everyday situations, a few keys things had to happen first. The initial step, after the creation of the cub code, was to make the expectations for student (and staff) behavior explicit. This involved the creation of the matrix. The matrix established what following the code looks like in each part of the school. We posted the matrix around the school so there could be no excuses, and added posters to each area focused on two or three clear behavioral expectations for that area. For example, in the hallway the sign might say “art is for the eyes” to encourage students not to touch the artwork on the walls.

Of course, you can’t expect a kindergarten student (or even a 6th grader!) to read the posters and signs on the walls and immediately follow those rules, or even understand them, so lessons were created and taught to teach students all the expectations. Once students understood what was expected of them, we began issuing incentives in the form of cub code tickets. Every day, each staff member at the school would receive 5 cub code tickets. Throughout the day, they would hand them out to students for demonstrating exemplary cub code behavior. Tickets were turned in by students for weekly prize drawings. Cub code tickets served two functions; first, they rewarded students for good behavior, but secondly they forced teachers to focus on the positive and give out tickets daily.

In addition to individual prizes, we had a few school-wide celebrations when students met our school-wide, cub code ticket goal. But, it wasn’t all fun and games. While PBIS is all about being positive, you can’t forget the inventions piece. To make sure we were doing our best to serve our students, we focused on data. The first step there was to revise our referral form to collect the sort of data we needed. We also revised our referral process; where would students go when there was a misbehavior, what would they do, and when? All these questions and more were debated and answered by the cub code team, with final approval by the staff as a whole.

The most difficult thing about PBIS is that it’s a process. It doesn’t happen over night and even after a full year of impelementation, not all our problems are solved, but by working together we create buy-in for the staff and create a common culture and language. The first year of implementing PBIS was a little rocky, but we learned a lot and at the end of the year, the entire staff got together again to make improvements for the following year. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen.

Diigo in Education Link

Diigo is a social bookmarking site, similar to Delicious. Diigo allows you to save web site bookmarks in a forum that can be tagged for future reference. From there, links can be kept private, shared with individuals, shared with a network of people, or shared with a group of users. Diigo in Education is a group of Diigo users that shares education-related links. As a member of the group, one can post items, post comments on items, as well as view the links posted by other members.

The Need for Effective Classroom Management

According to Evertson and Harris (as cited in Allen, 2010), “the meaning of the term classroom management has changed from describing discipline practices and behavioral interventions to serving as a more holistic descriptor of teachers’ actions in orchestrating supportive learning environments and building community.’

Effective classroom management produces a climate where students are able to succeed. When teachers spend time organizing and structuring their classrooms, they provide students with the knowledge of what to do (Wong, 2009, p. 3-4). Mutual respect is also necessary for students to obey (Guercio, 2011, p. 42).

Rimm-Kaufmann, La Paro, Down- er, and Pianta (as cited in Ratcliff, et. al., 2010) found that high classroom quality was most consistently related to a low number of management problems. Effective teachers structure their class to minimize these disruptions.

“The more discipline problems a teacher faces, the less effective the instruction becomes (Guercio, 2011, p. 39).’ It is only when students are taught what to do that misbehaviors will decrease and learning can begin. Misbehaviors halt instruction, forcing the teacher to move away from the task at hand and focus on the misbehavior.

Further, Abidin & Kmetz (as cited in Ratcliff et al, 2010) noted that management problems affected the quality of interactions in the classroom. Teachers were less apt to have positive interactions with behaviorally challenging students as misbehaviors and stress levels increased. Effective classroom management was also demonstrated to be a prevention for bullying (Allen, 2010).

Effective classroom management is key in supporting the classroom learning environment and providing an atmosphere of success for all students.

Works Cited
Allen, K. P. (2010). Classroom Management, Bullying, and Teacher Practices. Professional Educator, 34(1), 1-15. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Guercio, R. (2011). Back to the basics of classroom management. Education Digest, 76(5), 39-43. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Ratcliff, N. J., Jones, C. R., Costner, R. H., Savage-Davis, E., & Hunt, G. H. (2010). The elephant in the classroom: The impact of misbehavior on classroom climate. Education, 131(2), 306-314. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Wong, H. K., and Wong, R. T. (2009). The first days of school: How to be an effective teacher. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications, Inc.