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copyright 2007, Christopher Biffle

TEACHING CHALLENGING
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS
(and the rest of your class, too!)
Chris Biffle
Chairperson, Philosophy and Religious Studies
Crafton Hills College
Yucaipa, CA
92399

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copyright 2007, Christopher Biffle

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Many teachers contributed their ideas, insights and
classroom practices to the techniques you’ll discover in the
following pages. Thanks and deep gratitude go to the
following instructors: Chris Rekstad, Jay Vanderfin,
Heather Baltz, Andrea Schindler, Roxie Barrett, Angela
Watkins, Zeke Stear, T.L. Brink, Julie Herman, Francene
Fisher.
This book was produced by the clever minds and
busy hands of The Power Teaching Publishing Company,
a nonprofit, zero salary (!) company run by and for
teachers. If you’d like more information, contact:
Chris Biffle
CBiffle@AOL.com
909-389-3338
Note: All materials in this book are copyright protected. If this book was
purchased from The Power Teacher Publishing Company, the purchaser is
granted the right to create one printed copy. No part of this text may be
reproduced electronically or by any other means without the written
permission of the author. Individual electronic and printed copies may be
purchased by contacting Chris Biffle. School site licenses are available.

copyright 2007. Christopher Biffle a Contents 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Introduction Getting Attention Evaulating a Student’s Understanding Educational Chatting Voice of Command Talking One on One No Eye Contact Eye Contact Strategic Withdrawl Don’t Spit In Your Soup The No Whining Vow Teacher/Teacher Therapy Self Evaluation Class Evaluation Class Rules Class Rules Rehearsals Rules Buy In The Scoreboard Game Classroom Procedures Adapting the Scoreboard Game for Challenging Students The Guff Counter Breaking Up Rowdy Cliques 1 Breaking Up Rowdy Cliques 2 6 9 12 15 18 20 24 25 27 29 31 33 35 39 46 50 52 59 81 84 88 92 4 .

Christopher Biffle 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 Breaking Up Talkative Pairs Keep the DeeJay Happy! The Please/Okay Game Student Leaders You Bet Your Recess Praise Therapy The Birthday Game Positive Tattling The Magic Stopwatch Game The Bull’s Eye Game Short Form Complaints Long Form Complaints Separation Agreements Item Contracts/Notes Home The Top Secret Brown Bag Afterword a Introduction 97 99 115 120 128 133 134 139 142 144 151 154 161 165 167 169 5 .copyright 2007.

Let’s face it. Too many instructors are putting the majority of their energy into corralling the attention of a handful of students. unhappy families are unhappy for unique reasons. but also test scores would rise. frustrated. Every unhappy family is a unique. many of our teaching colleagues go home. Christopher Biffle 6 All across the country. We became teachers because we loved to teach. Not only would teacher morale instantly improve. there are too many different reasons why they are challenging. Who enters our profession eager to combat rebellious students? Perform this thought experiment. misery . something in the air makes all challenging students less challenging. but because they love it and are beaten down by fighting a few kids in the back row. Thousands of our gifted colleagues leave our profession not because they hate teaching. There can’t be one cure for challenging students.copyright 2007. To paraphrase Tolstoy. weary of struggling with challenging students. tired. every happy family is happy for the same reason. in fact all around the world. night after night. Tomorrow.

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producing microcosm. John’s parents are junkies. Joan’s
mother is dying of AIDS and her father is an intermittently
recovering alcoholic. Jack is abused by his uncle. Jill has
been handed by the court from one foster home to
another. And so forth. There is no single teaching
bandage that will cover all emotional wounds.
Despite the claims of education consultants (who will
solve your school’s problems for $350 an hour), there is no
one-size-fits-all cure for student rebellion. We believe the
best strategy is to offer multiple techniques that can be
combined, permuted, into a unique pedagogical design
that works best for you. Use the following strategies in
any way and/or order you wish. Mix and match them;
modify any to suit your style. But, don’t give up on a
technique until you’ve tried it for a month, or longer. If
you try one strategy and then quickly throw it out and try
another and another, you may wind up with what you
don’t want ... a challenging student who is even more
challenging!
After nine years of presenting Power Teaching
seminars to over 3,000 educators, we have discovered a
remarkable truth: techniques that help challenging

copyright 2007, Christopher Biffle

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students to learn, improve the learning of the entire class.
The environment you create to help your most difficult
students will nourish all your students.
The strategies you’re about to explore probably won’t
transform your difficult students into wondrous, attentive
learners. However, the multiplicity of teaching techniques
does address, perhaps even solve, one of our profession’s
most common, and painful complaints, “I’ve tried
everything! I don’t know what to do next!” Here are 36
things to do next.
(Note: In the following, we’ll call our challenging
students John, and Joan. Each represents a different facet
of the challenging student personality. The teacher is
referred to as Mrs. Maestra. The grade is Any Grade In
Elementary School. )

copyright 2007, Christopher Biffle

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Getting Attention

Mrs. Maestra knew that teaching began with getting
her students’ attention. If her class wasn’t focused on her,
she was just talking, going through the motions of
teaching. Mrs. Maestra taught her students that when she
said “Class!”, they should quickly respond with “Yes!”
She found this much more effective than saying “Okay,
everybody, I need you all to pay attention to me. John
look over her. Joan stop that. Table three you need to
look at me ...” and so forth.
Mrs. Maestra said “Class!” countless times a day. At
the beginning of the year, even Joan and John usually
responded with “Yes!” One of Mrs. Maestra’s great
talents as a teacher was that she always had a plan B; in
fact, as a Power Teacher she also had plans C through Z.
She knew her challenging students, like all her students,
needed two apparently contradictory things ... consistency
and variety. Part of Mrs. Maestra’s genius was to
structure her class the same way but differently! When
Mrs. Maestra noted that “Class!” wasn’t working quite as

“Occasionally. one day Mrs. yes. class!” (This variation was developed by Andrea Schindler.. yes.” Mrs. Maestra had countless ways of getting her students attention . yes!” Then. almost immediately. Mrs. She told her class. Maestra noticed that often John would respond with a “Yes!” and then. a high voice. for more variety Mrs. you say ‘yes’ however many times I toot. Mrs. Christopher Biffle 10 well with Joan.. a pretend angry voice..copyright 2007. Maestra discovered she could make the duck call “talk” using different tones. a s--l--o--w voice. Then. She said. lots of various techniques to do the same thing . “When I toot my duck call. a spooky voice. Maestra would say “Classity.. John and a few others she introduced a variation: “Class! Class!” Her students responded “Yes! Yes!” Later in the year.) Her students responded “Yesity. a fast voice. drift off into Johnland. class. a low voice. after I say ‘Class!’ and you respond ‘Yes!’. Maestra introduced a new way for students to respond. Maestra brought in a duck call. I will say . a robot voice. Maestra introduced funny tones of voice. a Power Teaching Veteran. consistent variety and various consistency! Mrs. class. Mrs.

finally. she knew that by varying her consistent technique she could achieve a surprising amount of engaging variety. Maestra had a multiplicity of fall back plans. to tell if John was focused on her. she understood that each plan might only be a temporary fix. Maestra found that using “Hands and Eyes” helped John in two ways: first. it reminded him that it was time to pay attention and second. . You’ve already learned a great deal about our approach to teaching challenging students. Christopher Biffle 11 ‘Hands and Eyes’. Mrs. hands folded on the desk. Maestra a visual clue. it gave Mrs. Maestra recognized that techniques that helped her challenging students also benefited the rest of her class. plans A-Z.” Mrs. Mrs. You should say ‘Hands and Eyes’ and look at me and fold your hands on your desks.copyright 2007.

other students in her class were disappointed that they weren’t chosen. Maestra did not like asking for raised hands because when she picked one child to answer. Maestra never asked. Mrs... John and others understood her teaching points. Mrs. Christopher Biffle 2 12 Evaluating A Student’s Understanding Mrs.. Mrs. Maestra also didn’t like this technique because it wasted precious seconds of learning time. that might take 5 seconds! All day long . Mrs. Mrs. Maestra also never used the “read my mind--fill in the blank” technique. Her students would raise their hands and then she would have to pick one .. Maestra never used two common techniques for evaluating student understanding.. “Who knows the answer to this question?” She never asked this because Joan.. you . Mrs. John and many others never raised their hands. week after week .. month after month. Finally. “Okay now last week we were studying . She would never say something like. Maestra often needed to gauge the degree to which Joan.copyright 2007.. Maestra needed every second she could get.

many times she had to correct wrong answers. The number on the bottom was the denominator.. Mrs. She always gave John and Joan a task that was exactly suited to their intellectual ability. It was wonderfully educational because her class heard the correct answer from Mrs. Of course. enjoyed being successful. Mrs. John and Joan.” Mrs.. Maestra loved this approach. John and Joan never drifted away when given the opportunity to be correct in front of an audience of their peers. The number on the top was the numerator. Filling in the blank took too long. tell me what I just said. “John. you remember the number that was on top was called the .. Christopher Biffle 13 remember. you know the top number with the line under it was called the . Maestra evaluated the understanding of her students by saying something like this. Maestra disliked this technique. only the best students were successful. Maestra and then listened to a student repeat it. Now... last week we studied fractions.copyright 2007. John often drifted away when he was confused about . Maestra also used this “say it back to me” approach with all her students. we were studying those numbers .. like all her students.” Mrs..

Maestra taught her class to give him or her a 10 finger woo. No one laughed when a student made a mistake. but relevant to the lesson. Maestra’s class a no-failure environment. Mrs. Students need to be recognized for correct answers. she would say something fairly simple to John.” If the student was successful. If the student made a mistake. and the student never felt ashamed. Christopher Biffle 14 what Mrs. entertaining celebration. the 10 finger woo gives the entire class an opportunity for a brief. . Mrs. and ask him to repeat back to her what she said. wiggling their fingers and saying “Wooo!” This always produced smiles and laughter. Maestra was teaching. To get him re-involved in class.copyright 2007. Maestra taught the class to say “It’s cool!” The “it’s cool” made Mrs. “it’s cool. Mistakes only produced a soothing. This involved pointing their hands at the successful student. The 10 finger woo produced a class that was continuously rewarding.

Maestra helped her students rehearse this pattern. she . In fact. her class was happily teaching each other any point Mrs. Christopher Biffle 3 15 Educational Chatting Joan. “When I say ‘Teach’ I want you to say ‘Okay!’ and then turn to your neighbor and explain whatever point I made in my lesson. One day Mrs. loved to talk to her neighbor. Maestra however had a plan. Maestra said to her class. so long as they were talking about course material. Mrs.” Mrs. she loved this kind of interchange. No matter where Mrs. Maestra sat the energetic girl. Maestra wanted them to review. Joan gabbed with whoever would. After several rehearsals.copyright 2007. Maestra saw nothing wrong with students talking to each other. Mrs. She had plans beyond plans. especially. listen to her. Maestra knew that students didn’t understand her lesson until they could put it in their own words. By walking around the room and listening to her class. or even wouldn’t. Mrs.

Joan’s gabbiness worked to her learning advantage. Many times she could get Joan back on task simply by standing near her and pantomiming the gestures Joan should be using. Maestra ejnoyed watching Joan teach her neighbor. She always had a backup. Students enjoyed moving around. Maestra was very big on students employing body language to explain her lessons. or review a previous point. Mrs.copyright 2007. If Joan wasn’t using either set of gestures. Maestra had been around for a long time. Christopher Biffle 16 could easily determine if she could go on to a new point. Mrs. Maestra introduced the concept of “speaking and listening gestures. Maestra knew that she was not talking about the lesson. Mrs. Maestra knew that Joan would eventually get off the task and start talking about subjects that had nothing to do with the classroom. Mrs. Mrs. Mrs.” She showed students a set of expressive gestures to use when speaking and a different set of expressive gestures to use when listening. using body language amplified and .

When she was a 2. Maestra shouted “Switch!”. It ensured that the chronic talkers would do their share of listening and that chronic listeners would do their share of talking. non-English speaking students were given engaging visual cues about what was being taught.copyright 2007. Maestra loved. her class responded “Switch!” The 1’s became the listeners and the 2’s became the teachers. Maestra found it necessary. Christopher Biffle 17 clarified abstract concepts. she got the practice she needed. the 2’s always started as the expressive. Every student was either a 1 or a 2. When Mrs. she introduced a variation on “teach your neighbor.” She had the class count off by 2’s. Joan needed listening practice. energetic listeners. This was another technique Mrs. The 1’s always started as the expressive. When Mrs. energetic teachers. .

copyright 2007. She didn’t sound angry or threatening. When Mrs.. the voice of command. as a police manual put it. Maestra reasoned that if a good cop could maintain self control on a murder scene. Mrs.” Mrs. she tried to maintain. she generally used a special voice. Joan and John had learned how to block out angry. When Mrs. “professional face. Maestra talked to the entire class. Maestra simply signaled by a slight change in her tone that the issues she was speaking about were serious and must not be ignored. She had noted that other teachers who are respected by students used a similar voice. authoritative . she could control her tone of voice when facing Joan and John at their rowdiest. Maestra had to talk to John or Joan individually she employed a special procedure (see below) and added a slight edge to her voice of command. firm.. Christopher Biffle 4 18 Voice Of Command Mrs. loud. . Under even the most challenging teaching situations. threatening adults. Maestra rarely lost her cool.

Mrs. . with deliberately. she spoke slowly to John and Joan. Maestra thought of this as her special “I am serious” voice of command. controlled pacing.copyright 2007. Maestra noted that she tended to speak more quickly when she was losing her cool and so when she felt her emotions rising. Christopher Biffle 19 Mrs.

“Occasionally. Christopher Biffle 5 20 Talking One On One Mrs.. they are unlikely to block out what Mrs. audiences could make Joan and John even more rebellious than normal. Early in the year.. this routine gave her two students the illusion that they controled the situation. I will start by giving you a simple choice. Mrs. ‘Short talk or long talk?’ In other words. but I . I may need to talk to you individually about something you are doing that is harming your education.. Maestra had worked out a special routine for talking to Joan or John when they were misbehaving. When Joan and John believed they are running the show. Mrs. Maestra said the following to her class.copyright 2007. She avoided confronting them when they had an audience of their peers . Maestra often needed to have a one on one talk with John or Joan to correct behavior problems. Maestra has to say.. you can choose whether we have a short talk or a long talk .

Christopher Biffle 21 suggest you pick a short talk.” One evening Mrs. and then you can be on your way.. Let’s say you’ve been having trouble staying in your seat and I’ve decided I need to talk to you about it. I’ll give you some clear instructions about what you need to do. much longer conversation and it wouldn’t be pleasant. believe me. I’ll ask you. Maestra decided she would need to have a one on one conversation the next day with Joan about talking to her neighbor. This was Mrs. “Okay. If you pick a long talk. Maestra rehearsed as follows with Polly. a particularly cooperative student. When we are able to talk one on one. Polly. you will not like hearing what I have to say. Mrs. ‘Short talk or long talk?’ What will you say?” “Short talk. to plan the night before the encounter so that she could control her emotions and the time and place for the talk. we would have a much.copyright 2007. If you said something like ‘I don’t care’ or ‘long talk’..” “Good choice! In my short talk. Maestra’s usual strategy . because these .” Next. Maestra tried to avoid spur of the moments confrontations with John or Joan. I’ll do all the talking and. Mrs.

bent down to her level. Mrs. she talked to Joan one on one.) During the short talk. Short talk or long talk?” In most cases. Mrs. Mrs. they frequently went awry. Maestra made her points briefly but firmly and then sent Joan on her way. very stern lecture. (When Joan didn’t choose short talk. Mrs.” Then. Maestra never asked anything like the following. and said quietly but firmly. she never posed a question that would give Joan an excuse for rebellion (silent or otherwise).copyright 2007. Christopher Biffle 22 kinds encounters were unplanned. Joan chose short talk. Now. I need to make a few points about your chatting with your neighbor. “Please remember what I told the class about short talks and long talks. “Do you understand what I’m saying?” or “Have I made myself clear?”. “We are going to have a talk right after recess. when Mrs. She began by saying. Mrs. Maestra stepped up to Joan. Maestra gave her a longish. Mrs. Maestra knew she would have the time she needed. after recess. Maestra waited until Joan talked to her neighbor. .

copyright 2007. Using the short talk. Christopher Biffle 23 Maestra wanted to maintain control of the one on one talk and not give her student the opportunity to resist her instructions. She hated how she felt after these arguments. Maestra was able to avoid unpleasant encounters that often developed into out of control. long talk strategy with her challenging students. Paciencio Maestra. Mrs. . So did her husband. back and forth arguments.

When Mrs. like the one on one talks described above. Mrs. Without making eye contact. there are occasions. Christopher Biffle 6 24 No Eye Contact Eye Contact Mrs. Maestra may judge that eye contact is an effective way to underline her point. he often uses this as an opportunity for further challenging behavior. Whenever possible (and it is not always possible) she makes a verbal correction without looking directly at him. if this results in making the student more rebellious. Maestra’s general rule is this: there is no point in forcing a student into eye contact. please stay on task.” She has found avoiding eye contact is often a good strategy. Of course. . Maestra will say something like “John. when Mrs. Mrs. Maestra frequently has to correct John’s behavior while she is involved in another activity. Maestra corrects John and then looks at him.copyright 2007.

self controlled teacher. in this case Joan. Mrs. Christopher Biffle 7 25 Strategic Withdrawl Even though she is a wonderful. Mrs. Maestra to do when she finds herself losing self control? After many unpleasant experiences when she spoke angry words to students. and says quietly. Maestra has found there are five great advantages to this strategic withdrawal: -.. and truthfully (using her special “I am serious” voice of command). Maestra knows that scolding or yelling at Joan will be ineffectual. She then steps up to the problem student.. “I am starting to lose my temper.She takes as long as she needs to plan exactly what .” Mrs. Maestra trained herself to recognize when she is about to boil over. Joan comes from a family of professional. Mrs. But what is Mrs. Maestra occasionally has an encounter with Joan that truly upsets her. Maestra gives herself time to calm down -. We will talk about this later.copyright 2007. and later deeply regretted it. and has learned strategies to fight back against verbal attacks.Mrs. high volume yellers .

wondering.Mrs. Christopher Biffle 26 to say to Joan -.She leaves Joan hanging.copyright 2007.Mrs. . Maestra makes all the points she wants to make in just the way a good teacher would make them. Maestra often discovers that after she has calmed down. Maestra gets to choose the time and place of their next interchange -. about the nature and content of their talk -. Mrs. Maestra has found strategic withdrawal a very effective device. When she talks to Joan after her emotions are under control. what upset her in Joan’s behavior was not as terrible as she initially felt Mrs.

and her rebellious children. Mrs. and engaged in their jovial..” He meant.. Courageous and Fortitude .. Her father taught her to never “spit in your soup. and the absolute refusal of the climbing Queen Anne roses to ascend the expensive copper trellis she had bought especially for . and her unsympathetic spouse.. She sat with unhappy teachers at lunch. Maestra is from the country where they have wonderful. many of them veterans. don’t respond to a bad situation by doing anything that will make it worse. and her life choices . Maestra formed an unfortunate habit.. the more difficult it became for her to teach . Early in her career.. Mrs. Mrs. Christopher Biffle 8 27 Don’t Spit In Your Soup Mrs.. picturesque expressions. Maestra realized that the worse she felt about her class.copyright 2007. anti-student humor.. Don’t spit in the soup you’re going to eat.. Maestra laughed when teachers made unpleasant jokes about their classes and/or least favorite students... After awhile.. and her career . which caused her to feel still worse about her class . Paciencio .

soup spitting teachers. And so. The more you complained about the steepness of the mountain. Teaching was like climbing a magic mountain. Maestra stopped sitting with unhappy. the steeper it became.copyright 2007. Christopher Biffle 28 them. . Mrs. She changed the way she thought about teaching.

Maestra knew that her teaching job was a picnic compared to her grandparents’ jobs. suffered enormously. Mrs. One of many things that Mrs. without self pitying whining.. unsupportive families.. Christopher Biffle 9 29 The No Whining Vow When Mrs.. textbooks. Maestra realized that complaining about her students resulted in creating a mental attitude that made it harder for her to teach.. she took a private “no whining vow.copyright 2007. Maestra admired about the American spirit of the past was that no matter the difficulty.” Her mother had told her stories about her grandparents who left their native country. and never complained. Mrs... worked 60 hours a week at back breaking labor . This was a marvelous moment in . Maestra knew that our educational system had many problems . but she refused to add to them by complaining about students. administrators. generations before her had rolled up their sleeves and met whatever hardship the world threw at them .

She rolled up her sleeves. and set about helping Joan and John and the rest of her students become better citizens.copyright 2007. Christopher Biffle 30 Mrs. . Maestra’s life. stopped whining.

.. If a colleague began to get in extra complaints. no more complaints were allowed during the meeting. advice. They exchanged plans. rubbed their eyes and mockingly cried. Maestra and the other teachers at the table.copyright 2007.. encouragement about what was to be done . Maestra and her colleagues developed their own form of lunch time therapy. Christopher Biffle 10 31 Teacher/Teacher Therapy As an alternative to whining. when necessary. They decided that. Mrs. Mrs. They guaranteed they would listen sympathetically .. they would help each other with their most difficult students by engaging in two activities (besides eating) at the lunch table : one minute venting and next day planning. Maestra and her colleagues allowed each other to vent about their challenging students for a minute. After everyone had vented. Ms. for 60 seconds . “Wa! Wa! Wa!” After one minute venting Mrs. and then another coworker would have a turn. Maestra and her colleagues began next day planning.

Maestra and her friends found that teacher/teacher therapy was a powerfully rewarding experience. Mrs. VentSympathize-Plan: Mrs. Christopher Biffle 32 the next day for each challenging student. Mrs. otherwise they would have had the feeling of getting nowhere. Maestra and her colleagues never forgot to plan.copyright 2007. Maestra and her friends discovered that briefly venting to each other and then moving on to planning could make the difference between an aggravating and a rewarding day. . They knew that one of the great problems of teaching challenging students was the feeling of isolated frustration.

copyright 2007.consistently following through with her classroom management plan. Mrs. Maestra deeply understood a Great Truth of classroom management: You cannot manage student behavior if you cannot manage your own behavior. It was also obvious to Mrs. to make a weekly evaluation of her own performance. Mrs. Mrs. Maestra that she could not manage students if she could not consistently follow .controlling her emotions by controlling her tone of voice -. Maestra knew that the two crucial features of managing her behavior were: -. Maestra. but crucial measures. used two simple. Every week she gave herself a grade 1-10 (with 10 being highest) on her ability to control her emotions and tone of voice. Christopher Biffle 11 33 Self Evaluation To track teaching improvements.

Maestra added these two grades (self control and classroom management consistency) together... So. Her primary classroom goal was managing her own behavior . This was her teaching score. any week that her combined teaching score was 16. Maestra had extremely challenging students.copyright 2007. a noble success. Maestra would never improve them by shooting from the hip. she could still consider herself a success. like a challenging solitaire game. At the end of each week. Maestra didn’t focus on managing her students as her primary classroom goal.. it made the difficult job of instruction a little more entertaining. Christopher Biffle 34 her own classroom management plan. Mrs. Mrs. .. every week Mrs. If her class was unruly. Maestra liked doing this . Mrs. especially in the above two categories. When Mrs. Mrs. (with 10 being highest) on her ability to consistently follow her classroom management plan. Maestra gave herself a grade 110.

copyright 2007. Christopher Biffle 12 35 Class Evaluation Here are four measures (you can substitute others if you wish) Mrs.followed directions quickly -.stayed on task -. Maestra’s model students. Maestra. they sometimes fell short of being model students. Her model students: -. and turned in neat work. Maestra used to evaluate each student’s classroom behavior. Go-Alongs: These students would usually “go along” with Mrs.turned in neat work Using these measures to determine her initial average score for the behavior of all her students.raised their hands for permission to speak -. they raised their hands for permission to speak. Mrs. followed directions quickly. stayed on task. Mrs. Alphas: These were Mrs. however. Go-Alongs usually. Maestra divided her class into four groups. Maestra gave herself 4 points for each Alpha. but not .

frequently followed directions quickly. Maestra was fortunate in having only two challenging students: John and Joan. Maestra gave herself 3 points for each Go-Along. in general. Mrs. followed directions (quickly or otherwise). turned in neat work. stayed on task. . Christopher Biffle 36 always. often didn’t stay on task.copyright 2007. raised their hands for permission to speak. Maestra gave herself 1 point for each of her challenging student. John and Joan rarely. Her Fence Sitters inconsistently raised their hands for permission to speak. or turned in neat work. and. Maestra wondered what went wrong. usually stayed on task. the next day. follow directions quickly or turn in neat work. Mrs. One day they were close to being model students. Mrs. Fence Sitters: These students were ones that could go either way. Maestra gave herself 2 points for each Fence Sitter. Mrs. Challenging Students: Mrs. if ever. They tested her skill as a teacher. raised their hands for permission to speak.

copyright 2007. Mrs. Joan and John were. Every week. Mrs. or wasn’t. she enjoyed this part of her work. Maestra’s goal was to move her Go-Alongs to Alphas. Maestra would never know if she was getting anywhere with them. her Fence Sitters to Go-Alongs and her Challenging Students to Fence Sitters. if she didn’t keep careful track of where she’d been. in general “long term projects.1 per month. Maestra understood that it was very important to keep a weekly record of how her challenging students were performing. Maestra was very busy. Maestra could never tell if she was. She realized that if she could raise the average score for the behavior of all her students by only .” Mrs. Christopher Biffle 37 New Students: Mrs. Maestra put every new student into the Fence-Sitter group. Mrs. then by the end of the . Mrs. Before she had used this method. Though Mrs. This was her average score for the behavior of her class. Maestra totaled all the points for her students and and then divided by the number of students in her class. making progress with classroom management.

. but reachable. Christopher Biffle 38 year every student in her class would have moved up. This was Mrs. Maestra’s a high. one level in classroom behavior. goal.copyright 2007. on average.

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Class Rules

A central goal in Mrs. Maestra’s instruction of John
and Joan, and other challenging students, was to provide a
clear structure of appropriate and inappropriate classroom
behavior. As a Power Teacher, Mrs. Maestra used the
following rules (each rule was illustrated by a classroom
management sign ... see below.)
RULE ABOVE ALL RULES:

RESPECT EVERYONE

Rule 1: Follow directions quickly!
Rule 2: Raise your hand for permission to speak.
Rule 3: Raise your hand for permission to leave your
seat.
Rule 4: Make smart choices.
Rule 5: Keep your dear teacher happy.

Here are small versions of the classroom management
signs for the rules that Mrs. Maestra posted near her
blackboard (for a full size set of the signs, go to the
Appendix.)

copyright 2007, Christopher Biffle

Respect Everyone!

1. Follow directions quickly.

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copyright 2007, Christopher Biffle

2. Raise your hand for permission to speak.

3. Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat.

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Keep your dear teacher happy. 5.copyright 2007. 42 . Make smart choices. Christopher Biffle 4.

bullying. sharpening pencils. Maestra’s rationale for each rule. etc. If students weren’t following directions quickly. Distracting others while they work. playing fairly and sharing are examples of acting respectfully. Respect Everyone. 1. speaking unkind words. this obviously added up to an enormous amount of wasted time. Helping others. In addition. Of course. Christopher Biffle 43 Here was Mrs. Maestra wanted her students to follow directions quickly because she didn’t want to waste a second of class time. Follow directions quickly. Mrs. praising classmates. Maestra’s “rule above all rules”. they could be wasting 5-10 minutes every hour in non-educational activities. opening books.copyright 2007.) the more possibility there was of disruptive behavior. she placed it above all other rules and procedures. Maestra wanted her students to understand that each individual was part of “everyone”. talking back to the teacher are common examples of acting disrespectfully. Mrs. . Over a school year. To emphasize its importance. This was Mrs. the more slowly students followed directions (handing in paper. so each student should respect himself or herself and not engage in activities that are self-harming.

3. Maestra NEVER (unless it was an emergency) answered a student who violatde rule 2. However. Christopher Biffle 44 Mrs. Maestra’s rationale for this rule was the same as for rule 2. Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat.copyright 2007. 2. Mrs. Raise your hand for permission to speak. bordered on chaos. Maestra always did everythng she could to squelch disruptive behavior. Maestra believed that any classroom in which students could speak whenever they wish. they often thought it was an enormous hassle. Mrs. Mrs. “I’ll be happy to answer your question. Maestra put a yellow post-it note on rule 3 . she was saving herself a substantial amount of grief. She would smile and say firmly. However. Mrs. Maestra understood that over the school year. Maestra had to say this 50 times a day (literally!) and when she told this to new teachers. Mrs. Maestra occasionally had classroom exercises where she allowed students to move around the room without asking for permission. Mrs. but please raise your hand.” At the start of the semester. Mrs. She wanted an orderly teaching atmosphere and this wasn’t possible with students wandering around the classroom. In this case.

) . like 4. Maestra found that Rule 5 was especially useful in covering the countless remarks that students made that were hurtful.” Her response was. in class and out. 4. Christopher Biffle 45 indicating that it is temporarily not in force. Make smart choices. Mrs. From childhood to adulthood. But it breaks an important rule . rude. we need to make smart choices. see the Guff Counter in chapter 19. it doesn’t make me happy. Mrs. Trust me. Maestra understand that this rule. was a general purpose rule that coverd an enormous amount of student activity. Many times. Keep your dear teacher happy. (For more on this. perhaps the fundamental rule. Maestra that it was “a smart choice. Mrs.. students would do something unexpected and they would argue with Mrs. disrespectful.” Mrs. Maestra understood that this was a fundamental rule. I’m the world’s leading authority on what makes me happy. “That might be true. Maestra used this rule to cover every kind of disruptive behavior. 5.copyright 2007. for all human activities.. sarcastic.

She wanted her students to understand that she was quite serious about her rules. Maestra’s rules: RULE ABOVE ALL RULES: RESPECT EVERYONE Rule 1: Follow directions quickly! Rule 2: Raise your hand for permission to speak. Maestra understood that merely posting classroom rules on a board had little effect upon creating an orderly classroom. Mrs. Here again are Mrs.copyright 2007. Christopher Biffle 14 46 Class Rules Rehearsal Mrs. Rule 3: Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat. Maestra gave an instruction like “Rule 1!’ and her students chanted “Follow directions quickly!” making a memory gesture assigned to the rule (wiggling their hand quickly in the air). . Mrs. and the rules to be in the forefront of her students’ minds all day. As a Power Teacher. Maestra had her students rehearse classroom rules every morning. Rule 5: Keep your dear teacher happy. Typically during her rules’ rehearsal. Rule 4: Make smart choices. after lunch and after every recess.

“Silly voices” or “Robot voices” or “Froggy voices” and the students merrily used these voices during rules rehearsals. Mrs. John especially ached to be a leader and so Mrs.) Occasionally. of the schedule for rehearsals.copyright 2007. RULES REHEARSALS 8:00 AM 10:30 AM (After first recess) 12:15 PM (after lunch) 1:45 PM (after second recess) These rehearsals were so entertaining. Maestra made the rehearsal even more entertaining by saying. Mrs. “Rule 2!” and her students chanted“Raise your hand for permission to speak!” and made a memory gesture (raising their hand and opening and closing their fingers as if their hand was “talking”. Maestra had the following sign posted on the front wall of the classroom. To help remind herself and the class. Maestra decided to give him an opportunity to lead the class in one of the daily rehearsals. Maestra to include them at the correct time every day. the class was more than happy to remind Mrs. Christopher Biffle 47 Then she would say. .

” Specific requirement for the reward: “Don’t talk to your neighbor when we’re in line. Christopher Biffle 48 Using a confidential tone of voice. Maestra took John aside and. Maestra}: “When I see that you’ve been doing a . When I see that you’ve been doing a good job being quiet in line. I’ll be happy to let you lead the class some morning in our rehearsals. getting down to his eye level. I want to see if you can lead by example. Maestra.copyright 2007. said. Maestra’s procedure: Praise: “I can see you have great potential to be a leader. Maestra]: “I want to give you a chance to lead the class in our rules rehearsal soon.” Offer of a future reward [the time to be determined by Mrs. But first.” John happily reviewed the plan with Mrs. I think you are really a very special student. Mrs.” Condition for receiving the reward [to be determined by Mrs. Now. Note Mrs. please tell me what our plan is. “I can see you have great potential to be a leader and I want to give you a chance to lead the class in our rules rehearsal soon. Work on just one thing: don’t talk to your neighbor when we’re in line.

he acts inappropriately.” Not only will Mrs. Maestra get challenging John involved in classroom routines by letting him lead the class in rehearsal some morning. Christopher Biffle 49 good job being quiet in line. Maestra is controlling the light. I’ll be happy to let you lead the class some morning in our rehearsals..” Additional praise: “I think you are really a very special student.copyright 2007. Better that Mrs. . that’s one reason.” Final check for student understanding: “Now. please tell me what our plan is. but also the process that she used to talk to John will make her student feel important. perhaps a major reason. than that John tries to point it at himself. John wants to be in the spotlight ..

If anyone can think of better rules. Maestra had achieved “buy in. all her students raised their hands..) Mrs. “Great! . please raise your hand. I’ll be happy to talk to them during recess.” Almost invariably.” Occasionally during the semester. Maestra never found any objectors. let’s take a vote.”) By using the vote. Maestra said.. Mrs. She then asked the class if anyone had objections to any item on the list. (If some students didn’t raise their hands. Mrs. a founder of Power Teaching.. Maestra explained the reasoning for each of her classroom rules that she had posted on the front board. “I’m glad to see that the majority of you believe these are good rules . Mrs. Mrs. she was very good at explaining to the class how each rule would make their learning experience more pleasant. these are the ones we’ll use. All in favor of using these rules in our classroom. Christopher Biffle 15 50 Rules Buy In (The following technique was developed by Jan Vanderfin. Finding no one who had a problem with her rules.copyright 2007. so. Mrs. Maestra would say.. Maestra .

Mrs. She was not enforcing her personal will.. do you remember this is what we voted on?” By talking about the rule and the class support. Maestra would discuss the rule that John was having difficulty with and then ask. Frankly. Mrs. Mrs.copyright 2007. Mrs. . The rule supported by the entire class became the subject and not Mrs.. Maestra was simply asking John to go along with what the students agreement about how the class should be run. “Do you think we should change this rule? . Christopher Biffle 51 would have a class discussion and a new vote on the rules. Maestra’s strategy with John was superbly nonconfrontational. Maestra was often able to deflect John’s rebelliousness. Maestra found the rules and the “buy in” were very helpful when she had to talk to John one on one. she was happy to experiment with a rule change if the majority of the class thought it would be a good idea. Maestra’s authority as a teacher. Mrs.

copyright 2007. “We’re going to play a game called ‘You Bet Your Homework’. There’s only one big rule: keep the Scorekeeper happy. Mrs. Maestra drew the following diagram on the board. Mrs. Maestra said to her class. I’m the . Christopher Biffle 16 52 The Scoreboard Game One day.

copyright 2007, Christopher Biffle

53

Scorekeeper! Now, here’s the way it will work. Each day,
I’ll write the number of pages in our homework assignment
on the board. When you do or say something that makes
the Scorekeeper happy, I’ll occasionally decrease the
homework by one page and put a mark under the Smiley
Face. When you do or say something that makes the
Scorekeeper unhappy, I’ll often increase the homework by
one page and put a mark under the Frowny Face. Here’s
my reasoning: if you work hard in class, you really should
have less homework, because you’ve done a good job of
learning material I’m covering. If you don’t work hard in
class, you really need more homework, because you
haven’t done a good job of learning material I’m covering.
Work hard in class, or at home. Your choice! Tell your
neighbors what I just said.”
The students, hesitantly, explained what Mrs.
Maestra said.
Mrs. Maestra continued, “Oh! That was too slow,
and some people didn’t even talk to their neighbors. The
Scorekeeper is unhappy!” She then put a mark under the
Frowny Face and said, “Give me a Mighty Groan!”
Her students groaned.

copyright 2007, Christopher Biffle

54

Mrs. Maestra exclaimed, “That was a very poor
groan! Here’s another Frowny Face mark. You now have
two extra pages of homework! You’re not following the
Scorekeeper’s directions and that never makes her
happy!”
Mrs. Maestra demonstrated a vigorous groan. “Now
give me a groan like that.”
Her students groaned more energetically.
Mrs. Maestra congratulated them. She knew it was
always poor strategy to give three Frownies in a row.
Mrs. Maestra understood that the groan was very
important. Students laughed as they groaned ... and thus
they were back on her side, instead of being resentful that
they had received a Frowny face.
Mrs. Maestra continued, “Now, you see it’s really
important for you to psyche out what makes the
Scorekeeper happy and unhappy. Let’s practice. Do
some things that you think might make the Scorekeeper
unhappy. Go ahead. It’s practice; I wont give you any
Frownies.”
A few of her students did and said goofy things.
Mrs. Maestra continued, “Great! Excellent

copyright 2007, Christopher Biffle

55

misbehavior! Now, do or say some things that you think
would make the Scorekeeper happy.”
A few students did and said things that made Mrs.
Maestra happy.
Mrs. Maestra understood that rehearsing correct and
incorrect behavior was an important principal of Power
Teaching. Power Teachers never scolded ... they rehearsed.
Mrs. Maestra concluded, “Right! Okay. Now, we’re
going to review some of our classroom rules and
procedures. Work hard to keep the Scorekeeper happy!”
Here was Mrs. Maestra’s plan. She already had her
students several Frowny Faces "in the hole". Her next few
marks would be Smiley Faces; Mrs. Maestra marked
Smilies whenever most of her class followed her directions.
Then she added a few more Frownies, then a few more
Smilies. Mrs. Maestra knew that she should rarely have 3
more frownies than smilies (or vice versa)! If she punished
too much her students would get discouraged; if she
rewarded too much, her students would stop working
hard to keep her happy.
As Mrs. Maestra moved toward the end of the first

Mrs. Maestra’s students that she was serious. Maestra played the game. Maestra played the Scoreboard Game. when her students were having a good day. Maestra knew many great truths of classroom management. She always put students “in the hole” at the start of the period with a few quick Frownies. Mrs. Here is . She found her class was highly motivated to “come from behind”. She decided what and when points were awarded. Christopher Biffle 56 day of using the Scoreboard. Near the end of the first week. Mrs. Her students were always trying as hard as they could to earn one less measly page of homework. This gave them a taste of success. The next few days that Mrs. she let the Smilies almost.copyright 2007. She assigned three extra pages of homework. This was important. her class came closer to winning reduced homework. Maestra knew this: the game is fixed. she never rewarded or penalized more than two or three pages of homework. It showed Mrs. The Frownies were three marks ahead. Maestra wanted. Maestra let them earn one page less homework. For the rest of the days Mrs. the Frownies. The score always came out to be what Mrs. but not quite catch.

Maestra used the Scoreboard for a few weeks. Christopher Biffle 57 another: Students will work extremely hard to avoid a small amount of work. "Sorry. When Mrs. Maestra could give them homework reductions. Go figure. Mrs. she was putting pages “in the bank”. Many classes would work fairly hard just to see more Smilies than Frownies. Class! Tell your neighbors how important it is to keep your dear Scorekeeper happy!" Mrs. her students were ahead of where Mrs. Maestra added extra homework. Maestra give them a quick Frowny and explained. Though they didn’t realize it.copyright 2007. If her students complained about the game or the homework increases. thus. Maestra knew some teachers began the Scoreboard game and gave no reward at all. Mrs. She experimented .. she substituted other rewards. After Mrs.. and know she was still moving at the pace she wanted. Complaints about the Scoreboard Game never make the Scorekeeper happy. Maestra needed them to be .

Louis. By varying the rewards. Cardinals/Every Other Team. Maestra simply changed the terms to Plus/Minus.copyright 2007. Christopher Biffle 58 with a few minutes of listening to music. during baseball season. renewed her students’ determination to win Smilies and avoid Frownies. watching a video. or playing class games. because she was born in St.” Mrs. If some of her students objected that Frownies and Smilies were “too babyish. Emperess/Loyal Subjects or. .

Maestra used near the beginning of her school year. Post the pictures (from the Appendix) in the same area you post your classroom rules Also. getting pencils sharepened. Christopher Biffle 17 59 Classroom Procedures Classroom procedures are different than classroom rules. You can join her by using some or all of the following. raising hands. Mrs. (Some of the following repeats material Mrs. remember to review the procedures whenever you review classroom rules.) . handing in (and handing out) papers. Maestra used many procedures in Power Teaching. the less hair you'll lose. opening books. The more orderly your class performs procedures like these. Some of the most common procedures are paying attention to the teacher.copyright 2007. being seated. A procedure is something you want your class to do many times a day.

This should be one of the first lessons you teach your class .. you’ll use it all day long. Jay Vanderfin . and.. Or try “Classity. Class!” and teach your students to respond “Yesity! Yes!” Use any other variations you can think of. look at you. For variety.copyright 2007. your students should stop what they are doing. and say “Yes!”. Christopher Biffle 60 A. Getting Students’ Attention: Whenever you say “Class!”. say “Class! Class!” and teach your students to respond “Yes! Yes!”.

copyright 2007. “Sacramento!” B. say “Hands and Eyes”. Hands and Eyes: To gain your students attention even more completely. “Hands and Eyes. they respond by looking at you. For example. “Capital of California?!” His students look at him and respond.” . to get his students’ attention he might say. Christopher Biffle 61 suggests posing a question recently covered in class. folding their hands on their desks and saying quietly.

We use it countless times a day. Students respond “Okay!”. whenever we have communicated important information to .copyright 2007.. Teach!-Okay!: To develop your students’ language skills. turn to a neighbor and continuously repeat what you have said . and to increase their mastery of subject matter.. say “Teach!”. Christopher Biffle 62 C. until you regain their attention with “Class!” Teach-Okay! is one of the fundamental Power Teaching techniques.

And. you’ll be astonished at how much difficulty students have in putting your concepts into their own language. what sense does it make for you to introduce another concept? D: Correcting errors: As a teacher.. if they can’t explain to each other what you have just taught them. Christopher Biffle the class. walk around your room and listen to them . you will frequently 63 .. As students are teaching each other.copyright 2007.

Rewarding students: Whenever a student needs a . In explaining “it’s cool” to your class. and most painless way to do this is to have the class tell the student “It’s cool!” Then. That’s fine. If you make a mistake.copyright 2007. Christopher Biffle 64 have to correct a student’s response to one of your questions.” E. say something like the following. don’t worry. you tell everyone the correct answer. The easiest. “Everyone will make mistakes in this class. I’ll tell you the right answer and we’ll go on with our lesson. The class will merely tell you ‘it’s cool’. We’ll be covering some difficult material.

wiggles their fingers and says “woo!” energetically.copyright 2007. try the five finger woo. Use woos to add needed recognition and merriment to your classroom. try the rolling 10 finger woo (students roll their hands as they woo). If you love Power Teaching and want a bumper sticker. For wonderfully correct answers. try this one: Power Teachers Do It With A Ten Finger Woo! . Countless other variations are possible. Students love giving and receiving woos. For half correct answers. The class points their hands at the deserving student. use a 10 finger woo. Christopher Biffle 65 reward for a right answer or good behavior.

you reward your students with a “one second party” by telling them to give you a Mighty Oh Yeah (they clap their hands once and exclaim “Oh yeah!”). you can keep your students united behind your leadership (and not bitter that they received an extra page of homework) by telling them to give you a Mighty Groan (they lift their shoulders and groan.) . Christopher Biffle 66 F. When you mark a Frowny face point on the Scoreboard.copyright 2007. Mighty Oh Yeah! Mighty Groan! When you mark a Smiley face point on the Scoreboard.

3. (continue counting) Students: Lines! Lines! Lines! (students say this in unison. Whenever they line up. Christopher Biffle 67 G. Lining up: Your students should line up in two lines before they enter or leave the classroom.copyright 2007. 2. so that all students know what the teacher is asking. three times.) They hold their hands in the air and look at the . follow this procedure: Teacher: Lines! 1.

When the teacher sees all students with their hands in the air and standing in line. give your students two Smiley Faces when the break a class record. and turns lining up into a game..copyright 2007. . he/she waves one hand in the air. fold them in front of them. When they need additional motivation late in the year. All students lower their hands. Christopher Biffle 68 teacher when they are in line. and look at the teacher.) Teacher: You got to 15 (or whatever number the teacher reached when counting).. Having students line up as you count is a powerful motivator to break a class record . All right let's (enter/leave) the classroom. that you won’t have to give them any reward for lining up correctly. Students will enjoy setting class records so much. That is (isn’t) a new class record.

. Follow this procedure . Christopher Biffle 69 H.copyright 2007. you will need students to quickly take their seats. (continue counting) Students: Seats! Seats! Seats! (students say this in unison. three times. and on other occasions. Teacher: Seats! 1. so that all students know what the teacher is asking..) . Being seated: When your students enter the classroom. 2. similar to the one above. 3.

When the teacher sees all students with their hands in the air and seat. and look at the teacher. if you wish. All students lower their hands. Christopher Biffle 70 They hold their hands in the air and look at the teacher when they are in line. he/she waves one hand in the air. . use "Seats!" Praise students. That is (isn’t) a new class record. All right let's start our lesson.copyright 2007. When having students line up to enter class. fold them in front of them. when they break a class record.) Teacher: You got to 15 (or whatever number the teacher reached when counting). give them extra Smilies. use "Lines!" and then when they are in line. or.

Handing papers in and out: For an orderly classroom. select a student . Then. point at one chair (perhaps the one nearest the front of the classroom) at each table. then practice it a few times a day with "imaginary papers". if your students sit at tables. students should always hand in papers in the same way.copyright 2007. tell the students you want all papers at the table to go to student in that chair. Christopher Biffle 71 I. Determine what that procedure should be. For example.

he/she waves one hand in the air. get all the papers. 2. Christopher Biffle 72 in one of the chairs to go to each table.copyright 2007.) Students hold their hands in the air and look at the teacher after they have handed in their paper.) A similar procedure is followed when the teacher is handing out papers. and their hands are in the air. When the teacher sees all students with their hands in the air and the papers stacked neatly in the proper place. practice the following: Teacher: Papers! 1. and look at the teacher. When all students have the handout. and stack them neatly on your desk. so that all students know what the teacher is asking. three times. fold them in front of them. fold them on the desk. 4 (continue counting) Students: Papers! Papers! Papers! (students say this in unison. the teacher waves one hand in the air. All students lower their hands. 2. and look at the teacher. . except the teacher gives papers to one person at each table. Then. All students lower their hands.

Opening books: If you don't practice something like the following procedure. 47! Science book. three times.copyright 2007. 2. 47! 1. so that all students know what the teacher is asking. 47! Science book. your class can be chaotic every time you ask them to open their books. They hold their hands in the air and look at the teacher when they . 3. Teacher: Science book. 47! (students say this in unison. Christopher Biffle 73 J. 4 (continue counting) Students: Science book.

create disturbances on the .) K. fold them in front of them.copyright 2007. Christopher Biffle 74 have their books open to the correct page. Children leave their seats. All students lower their hands. When the teacher sees all students with their hands in the air and books open. Getting pencils sharpened: Pencil sharpening can drive you bonkers. and look at the teacher. he/she waves one hand in the air.

And this can happen all day long! Here is an alternative to the pencil sharpening madness. then cause disturbances on the way back to their seat. trade their pencil for a sharpened one. quietly. have problems operating the pencil sharpener. When the green paper faces the students they can.. get a pencil. . Put a red piece of paper on the front of the can and a green piece of paper on the back. Christopher Biffle 75 way to sharpen their pencils. electric pencil sharpener.copyright 2007. under any circumstances.. Sharpen pencils each morning and put them in a coffee can near the front of the room. Buy a hundred pencils and invest in a good. When the red paper faces the students they cannot.

But there are still two problems. you may be making an important point. To solve both these problems. Raising hands: Your classroom rules instruct your students to raise their hands for permission to speak and for permission to leave their seats. Secondly. students’ minds go blank when they raise their hands. Many times. and can't stop to call on a student with a raised hand. they stop listening to what you're saying. say the following to your students.copyright 2007. Christopher Biffle 76 L. in their urgency to get your attention. Great. .

copyright 2007. I want a few of you to raise your hands and then I'll reach out like this (make a gesture like you are closing your fist around the raised hand).) . they put their hands down in a fist on their table. When I've finished talking. I'll take questions from students whose hands are down in a fist. put your hand down in a fist on your desk. Christopher Biffle 77 Teacher: We're going to practice raising hands in a moment. you "grab" the question. have a few students raise their hands. Then. That means I've got your question. (Then.

yada. When I move my hand down. yada’ louder and louder.copyright 2007. I want you to say ‘yada. “Good! That’s the level I want you to speak at. yada.” . Then move your hand down to a whisper level (or whatever level you wish. be very loud. when I move my hand up toward the top of the Volume-O-Meter I want you to say ‘yada. yada’ more and more quietly.) Say. point at the Volume-OMeter (an enlarged version of the picture above) and say: “Class. Controlling classroom noise: When your classroom becomes too noisy.” Move your hand up and let your students. Christopher Biffle 78 M. momentarily.

Focusing on the teacher’s explanation: Whenever you need your students to be intensely focused on what you’re explaining say.” Then. This turns passive students into active.. “Thumbs up! (hold your thumb up like the sign above.. Then.copyright 2007. when you say “Teach” your students should say “Okay” and teach their neighbors using your gestures.) I want you to make the same explanatory gestures I’m making . but don’t say anything. it’s delightful to watch your class mirroring your every move. use large entertaining gestures to make your point . energetic teachers of course material. ... Just make my gestures. Christopher Biffle 79 N.

“I can’t do division .. yet!” P: No Guff: See chapter 19 for a description of the very powerful No Guff rule. . “ Instead of “I can’t”... instruct students to say “I cant . I can’t understand grammar .. I can’t solve this problem .copyright 2007. No “I can’ts”: We never want our students to say “I can’t” These are two of the most mind crippling words in our language. Christopher Biffle 80 O.....

Maestra drew the following on the board. Christopher Biffle 18 Adapting The Scoreboard Game For Challenging Students After a month or so of using the Scoreboard Game.copyright 2007. “We’re going to play a more advanced 81 . Mrs. the class the independents She said.

There’s only one catch. had always been able to hide in the large group . is come to me and say. and a smaller group. but that was no longer possible. ‘I don’t want to be in that Independent group!’” Mrs.copyright 2007.. Maestra set the game up so that she had several students . So. the class as a whole. If someone else in the Independent group is misbehaving. We’ll have two groups. here is what we’re going to do. Some of you may already have an idea of who these kids are. Mrs. Christopher Biffle 82 version of the Scoreboard Game. Maestra loved this modification of the Scoreboard Game. then you’ll have your own score separate from the rest of the class. These are students who just won’t go along with everyone else.. the Independents. especially Joan and John. All you have to do to get out. Many times over the last month or so their behavior has caused the entire class to get Frownies. If I come up to you and tell you that you’re in the Independent group. you get the Frownie along with them! You only have to stay in the Independent group one day. Her “independent” students.

. They had decided to separate from a group that got them into trouble. When one acted up. When students deliberately chose to leave the Independent group. Maestra knew she had helped them make an important social and moral decision. Christopher Biffle 83 in the independent group at the same time. they all got a Frownie. Mrs.copyright 2007. she tied some of her challenging and fence sitting students together.

that almost. Right? Okay.copyright 2007. For example. Maestra drew a box on the board. Christopher Biffle 19 84 The Guff Counter It is astonishing how often teachers have to endure disrespectful remarks.. This means that everyone has one . Students are very skilled in making comments. and the class doesn’t say anything. sometimes only partly heard. but they add up . these remarks aren’t terribly hurtful.... Here’s what Mrs. Taken individually.” She said. Maestra did. I’m asking him to do something that will help him be a better student. until you’re ready to scream. Maestra’s class. One day Mrs. and he’s refusing. “Guff is any remark that makes a teacher unhappy. Amazing guff! Students in most classes make these kinds of statements all day long! But not in Mrs. that’s guff. put a zero inside it. ‘please work harder’ and he says ‘I am working harder’ . if I say to John. then that means everyone silently supports that remark! I’ll add 1 to the Guff Counter. but don’t quite cross the line into completely rude behavior. If a student gives me guff. and labeled the box “Guff Counter.

copyright 2007. I’ll allow the person who gave me guff to work extra hard for the rest of period at speaking more politely. Then she encouraged the guffing student to work harder all period at being respectful. stop!” to guff. Mrs. . Maestra gave Julie.” Mrs. no matter how quickly her students said “Please. I’ll erase the mark in the Guff Counter. Maestra never lowered the Guff Counter. If you get a page of extra homework. if someone says something that is guff. and encouraged her to respond with guff. On the first violation. Let’s practice. Maestra instructed the other students in how firmly.. but that’s all right. she wanted them to say “Please. Maestra said. Maestra added 1 to the Guff counter. says ‘Please. Mrs. stop!’ that means the class doesn’t silently support the guff . and loudly. an amenable student.. various directions. and everyone firmly. and the homework doesn’t go up a page. “I know you’re going to forget to stop the guff at first .” At the first opportunity. stop!” Finally Mrs. no matter how hard her challenging student worked. If they do a very good job all period.. Christopher Biffle 85 additional page of homework! However. Mrs.. not loudly.

Tell your neighbors how important it is to keep your dear teacher happy. Maestra meant business. the better you teach. she said something like “John did much better today. It’s fine to want your students to work hard to keep you happy. and other kinds of verbal harassment.copyright 2007.” On other occasions. This showed that Mrs. but not quite well enough to lower the Guff counter.... use the procedure described above but have two students act out typical kinds of (non-profane) name calling. Silent support of verbal harassment must be met by everyone within listening distance saying “Please.. stop!” . Mrs. Students frequently treat each other . Point out that if you hear students talking disrespectfully to each other. but not the first time. Maestra would let the disruptive student lower the Guff Counter by working harder . or the whole class gets a Frowny. The happier they make you. dissing. Important note: to eliminate students capping on each other. the same rules apply as if they were speaking disrespectfully to you. capping. Christopher Biffle 86 At the end of the period.

School is often heaven for bullies. Rehearse the capping routine daily to cut down on the amount of abuse students suffer from each other.copyright 2007. . Christopher Biffle 87 horribly.

the others backed him up. I want you all to freeze. “We’re going to play a new game. it’s called FreezeMelt. Maestra wasn’t worried.” Mrs. Mrs. Maestra said. not say a word after you say ‘Freeze’.copyright 2007. Mrs. And so one day. designed to break up rowdy cliques. not even giggle. When he clowned around in class. and if you win. in addition to the Independent Group. when I say ‘Freeze!’. you’ll all get a Smilie. Maestra said “Freeze!” a few times and everyone responded with “Freeze!” Next Mrs. When any of the boys engaged in rebellious behavior. Then I’ll give you some instructions and say. . It’s simple to learn. Not move a muscle. Christopher Biffle 20 88 Breaking Up Rowdy Cliques 1 John was the leader of a group of four rowdy boys. “Whenever I say ‘Freeze!’ I want you all to say ‘Freeze!’ Let’s try that. as you might guess. “Now. if you lose you’ll get an Unpleasant Surprise!” Mrs. She had a number of Power Teaching techniques. Maestra continued. Maestra went into her class and said. they all laughed.

doesn’t Freeze. everyone will get a Smilie! Okay. Of . Maestra was not at all surprised. She had been around the block many times. made little noises. Maestra went to the front of the room and wrote the names of John and his rowdy friends on the board. Mrs. Now here is the Unpleasant Surprise I promised. then each person in that group will stay in for recess for one minute. until she said “Freeze!” Everyone student but John froze. He laughed. except a few of you didn’t do a good job of freezing.” Mrs. His rowdy friends laughed at him and imitated his actions. She continued. That’s my Unpleasant Surprise.’” Mrs. Christopher Biffle 89 ‘Melt!’ You then say ‘Melt’ and follow my instructions exactly. Talk about anything you want but move your hands and arms to add meaning to what you’re saying. let’s practice. we’re going to play again. Turn to your neighbor and talk with expressive gestures. Maestra said. tipped in his chair like he was falling over. “Now. If even one person with their name on the board. “Okay class. that wasn’t too bad. Mrs. Her class followed suit. Maestra gave a demonstration of using expressive body language. If you can do all that.copyright 2007.

Maestra’s system. if anyone whose name isn’t on the board. (Mrs.” She would simply made a mark next to each name on the board and let them be angry with each other. Maestra put a mark on the board next to all of their names. Maestra now had John and his rowdy friends right where she wanted them. She looked forward to John or one of his friends moving or laughing when she said “Freeze. Maestra was always happily surprised at how quickly members of a clique. Maestra. turned on each other if one of them caused the others the least discomfort. Mrs. Maestra called out “Freeze!” and sure enough. doesn’t Freeze. John couldn’t control himself and acted clownishly . was a deeply clever . especially boys. They were her enforcers and were breaking down their own loyalty to their clique. Christopher Biffle 90 course. Please explain the Unpleasant Surprise in the Freeze-Melt game to your neighbor.) After about 10 minutes. The boys who were upset at John didn’t realize it..copyright 2007. then he or she will have their name added to the board..” Mrs. but his friends weren’t laughing when Mrs. Mrs. as you can see. but they had become part of Mrs.

give them some instruction that they listened to intently. Maestra knew that it would take a lot of work to break up a rowdy clique. and then have them Melt and follow the instruction. she would use the Freeze-Melt game to stop her students in their tracks and give them a new direction. but unmelt. turn. Maestra meant that the students should keep their bodies frozen. Melt!” To make the game even more entertaining. Maestra had activities that allowed students to move around the classroom. sometimes Mrs.copyright 2007. Christopher Biffle 91 teacher. Mrs. but she wasn’t worried. their heads and look in a direction where she wanted their attention. the Freeze-Melt game had a powerful pedagogical benefit. . When this activity became too chaotic. For example. she sometimes used “Head Unmelt!” Mrs. Maestra sincerely wanted everyone to Freeze. There were many times during the day when Mrs. In addition. She also had other powerful devices for reforming challenging students that she could use when she needed them. like “Please speak in a whisper.

” Mrs.copyright 2007. it’s called Power Chip Perfection and I want you to be the scorekeeper. talked to him about his passion for basketball. Mrs. I’m going to announce a new game to the class tomorrow. Maestra felt that she had Paul’s confidence. He was larger than the other boys. You’re one of the strongest leaders in this class and I want you to use your leadership to guide students in a positive direction. She said. When Mrs. “Paul. She gave him small compliments. Christopher Biffle 21 92 Breaking Up Rowdy Cliques 2 Paul was the obvious leader of John’s rowdy clique. Where Paul led. she took him aside and explained a new game. John and his friends followed. asked about his goals and dreams. For several weeks. . Maestra worked on establishing a relationship with Paul. I’m going to be honest with you. quick witted and good at sports. Maestra explained that she would give Paul a stack of Power Chips (poker chips) and she would write a rule on the board that she wanted the class to focus on. Power Chip Perfection. whenever possible.

” Paul. agreed to be the scorekeeper. Maestra then said. Paul. Before class. and because he loved the idea of forcing Mrs. she did not want anything he did to cause a disruption in the class. Mrs.” When the class had 10 chips in the “Smilie Stack. Maestra emphasized that it was important for Paul to silently add and subtract Power Chips. whenever a student forgot to raise his or her hand for permission to speak. Christopher Biffle 93 “Raise your hand for permission to speak. Tell them that you want to see them win. Paul would silently add a Power Chip to the “Smilie Stack”.. Tell them the obvious truth . . Maestra would add a Smilie mark to the board. take John and his friends aside and tell them about the game. because he loved to lead.. here is where I want you to really use your remarkable leadership.” Mrs. “Now.copyright 2007. the Power Chip Perfection game is a good way to force me to give Smilies to the class. Mrs. Maestra to give the class Smilies. Paul would silently take a Power Chip away from the “Smilie Stack.” Whenever a student raised his or her hand for permission to speak.

Finally. “Raise your hand for permission to speak” and “Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat. “forced” Mrs. Maestra added two rules to the board.” Mrs. “All right. and you’re not going to be able to force me to give you Smilies. On the first day. Maestra stopped the game when the class had earned as many Smilie marks as she secretly planned in advance that they would earn. and Paul. But I’m going to make it harder this time. Maestra to give them two more Smilies than they had ever received. Maestra knew it would. Mrs.copyright 2007. with Paul as scorekeeper won again. Mrs. Mrs. Christopher Biffle 94 The game proved to be very successful. as Mrs. She stopped the game at that point. For the next few days. Maestra used the possibility of playing the game as an inducement for good . complaining that the class was “too clever. she said. the class. begged her. Maestra wouldn’t agree to play the Power Chip Perfection for several more days.” The class. we’ll try one more time. under Paul’s leadership.” Though the students. and acted as if she was upset.

. but it’s also very important for a successful class.” Paul readily agreed. here is what we’re going to do next . Christopher Biffle 95 behavior! Students worked hard at following Mrs.. I’m going to write ‘Keep your dear teacher happy!’ on the board as our rule for Power Chip Perfection. and had found an excellent way for Paul to exercise his leadership for the benefit of the class. with lots of volunteers begging to whitewash her fence.. Mrs.. could add other rules. not as concrete as asking students to raise their hands for permission to speak or leave their seats . Maestra felt like Tom Sawyer.copyright 2007.. Make the class really sweat to earn 10 chips . let’s see how hard they’ll work to win. “You’ve done a great job! Now. Mrs. Eventually. What I want you to do is not award the Power Chips as quickly in this version of the game. just to earn the chance to follow her rules perfectly while playing Power Chip Perfection!!! Mrs. She had a game that knew she could play again.. Maestra’s rules. for a long time or a short time. Maestra took Paul aside and said. . if you think it will work. whenever she wanted. Maestra was quite happy. This rule is more vague.

Maestra. What had Mrs. In essence. Christopher Biffle He loved the idea of being in cahoots with Mrs. Paul also loved the idea of being in charge.copyright 2007. fiesty Paul into her colleague. the whole class was working hard to keep Paul happy. Maestra done? She had turned troublesome. of making anyone do anything. 96 .

Mrs. let’s . Maestra knew that one of the best ways to break up talkative pairs of students was simply to separate them. Maestra had students like Joan before. the easiest time to detect inappropriate talking was when Mrs. Mrs. Maestra knew that even good friends liked to have an “attitude” with each other.’ If a student tries to talk to you during the game. “Okay.copyright 2007. reading or writing. but Joan was such a gregarious spirit that she talked to anyone she was next to. palm toward the student.’” Mrs. Now. Christopher Biffle 22 97 Breaking Up Talkative Pairs Mrs. Maestra knew just what to do. Maestra sat down between Joan and Janey and said. so please stop. “Today were going to play a new game. Maestra’s students were doing silent work. Obviously. It’s called ‘talk to my hand. hold up a hand to make the other person stop talking. Mrs. Maestra said. You’re just talking to my hand. let’s practice. just hold up your hand. This means ‘I don’t want to hear what you’re saying. Joan and Janey. Mrs.

cut down on the conversation between talkative pairs. “Okay. but she had developed a routine that would. Maestra. Whenever I try to talk to you. Maestra pretended like she was frustrated. The class laughed as Joan and Janey put up their hands and Mrs. don’t look at me. 2’s pretend like you’re reading and 1’s try to talk to them.” Her students loved this practice and so did Mrs. When I say ‘Switch’. Maestra tried to talk to Joan and then she tried to talk to Janey. It only took 30 seconds or so. 2’s try to talk to the ones. 1’s pretend like you’re reading. Maestra then had the class count off in 2’s. keep your hand up until I stop trying to bother you.copyright 2007. She said. Christopher Biffle 98 pretend we’re reading. Mrs. whenever she wished. .” First Mrs. hold up your hand.

.copyright 2007. Mrs. it often seemed to her that her most challenging students were some of the ones who loved music the most. one day. Christopher Biffle 23 99 Keep the DeeJay Happy! Stage One Mrs. And so. In fact. Maestra drew a new diagram on the board. Maestra knew that students at every level loved listening to music.

“Great! Believe it or not. When I put a mark under the Smilie Note Face that means one or more people are making me happy. hold up your hand if you love to party. held up their hands. that means one or more people are making me unhappy. It’s kind of a guessing game. I’m the DeeJay. Maestra said. . Now. Tell your neighbors what I just said. the more music you get to listen to. I’m not going to tell you in advance everything that keeps me happy.” All her students held up their hands. I’ll use the Frownie and Smilie note faces to keep score of how you’re doing.” All her students laughed. Maestra said. hesitantly. We’re going to play a game called ‘Keep The DeeJay Happy’. Maestra continued. But the quicker you figure it out. “Hold up your hand if you really like music. Christopher Biffle 100 Mrs.” The students. Mrs. explained what Mrs. When I put a mark under the Frownie Note Face. I love partyin’ too. I love music. “Me too.copyright 2007.

(As noted earlier. Maestra exclaimed. if music comes on that contains offensive language. “Now. Mrs. I’m unhappy!” She put a mark under the Frownie Note Face and said. Maestra said. She made another Frownie mark and explained. and thus they’re were back on her side.” The students hesitantly explain what Mrs. happy and .) “Now. Maestra continued. At the end of half an hour.. Maestra always believed that this groan was important. Christopher Biffle 101 Mrs. Her students laughed as they groan . “Give me a Mighty Groan!” Her students groaned. and some people didn’t even talk to their neighbors. here’s the deal. “Oh! That was too slow. your Deejay. Mrs.. I’ll play the radio one minute for every Smilie Note Face mark you have more than Frownie Note Face marks. you see it’s really important for you to psyche out what makes me.. the radio goes off! Explain all that to your neighbors.. instead of being resentful that they got a Frownie face. “Too slow again! Here’s another Frownie! Mighty Groan!” Her students groaned. however.copyright 2007. You can choose the station .

Mrs. Christopher Biffle 102 unhappy. goofy things.copyright 2007. Maestra erased the score and announced that she’d let the class play again until the end of the hour..” A few students did or said things that made Mrs. “Right! Okay. Open your books to page 67. Do some things that you think might make me unhappy. Maestra happy. Mrs. Maestra continued. At the end of the hour. we’re playing for real. Go ahead. Maestra wanted. Maestra taught as she normally would but awarded Frownie and Smilie Note Face points. the game came out even closer (just as Mrs. It’s practice. “Great! Excellent misbehavior! Now. do or say some things that you think would make me happy. Mrs. Now. Let’s practice. making sure that by the end of the half hour the Smilies almost caught the Frownies . I won’t give you any Frownies. Maestra laughed.. or said.” A few students did.) The Frownies were only one ahead of the Smilies! Darn! . the Frownies were only 3 ahead of the Smilies.” Mrs.

remember my rule about offensive language .copyright 2007. “However. intensely hooked... Mrs. Everyone was clamoring for her to let them bring CD’s. “Much better. the instant I hear anything that is inappropriate. This drove the kids crazy . Mrs. but I’ll allow a few of you to bring the music... on Keep the DeeJay Happy. Christopher Biffle 103 Mrs. Maestra said. We’ll play again tomorrow . Maestra loved this . Maestra let the class almost win at the end of the first half hour.. . the boom box is turned off!” On the second day the game was played.. the music stopped just when the song was getting going! As the game continued over the next week.. Maestra chose the CD of a different popular person each time. She played Ti’Juan’s music. Mrs. not a second longer.. her most popular student. She added. I’ll tell you what. and then they won one minute before the end of the period. it meant her whole class was hooked... but only for one minute .” She selected the four most popular students in her class as ‘assistant deejays’ and allowed them to bring one CD each.

copyright 2007, Christopher Biffle

104

Mrs. Maestra rarely let her students win 2 minutes of
music ... and never let her students win three minutes of
music. She knew it was a long year; she wanted to start
by keeping the rewards as small as possible. Toward the
end of the year, her students would need a 5-10 minute
music party once a week (see below) to stay involved.
Mrs. Maestra remained in Stage One for as long as
she could. She kept playing the music of her popular
students ... which also worked wonders for her
relationship to these powerful class leaders.
When Mrs. Maestra’s students objected, she said “I’ll
let other students bring CD’s when I see that everyone
truly understands how to keep the DeeJay happy. We’re
not there yet. It’s too much of a hassle to have to choose
among 30 CD’s. But, if you keep bugging me about
bringing CD’s, that just might earn you a Frownie. I’m a
very moody, easy to upset Deejay!”
Stage Two
When the class was clamoring to have the CD
bringing group enlarged, Mrs. Maestra finally said, “All
right. I think you are all doing fairly well. The row that

copyright 2007, Christopher Biffle

105

does the best today, can bring CD’s tomorrow. I’m not
guaranteeing we’ll play anyone’s CD ... you’ll have to earn
Smilie Note Faces for that. We’re also going to change the
game a bit; instead of playing in half hour periods, we’ll
just play for the entire hour.” In Stage One, as an extra
motivator, she gave students two chances during an hour
to win music. In Stage Two Mrs. Maestra found it more
convenient, and it broke up her period less, if the class
focused on winning one music party by the end the hour.
The important change in Stage Two was that anyone
could bring a CD; they just had to be in a row that was
generating lots of Smilie Note Faces.
Mrs. Maestra usually stayed in this stage for a
considerable amount of time ... often a month or two.
Stage Three
Mrs. Maestra eventually introduced a new twist in
Keep the DeeJay Happy. One day she said, “Okay,
you’re all doing very good. Everyone who wants to can
bring a CD tomorrow. We’re going to have a row versus
row competition.”

copyright 2007, Christopher Biffle

106

On the next day, Mrs. Maestra made the following
diagram on the board. (Of course, if she would have had
more than 5 rows, she would have extended her drawing.)

Row 1
Row 2
Row 3
Row 4
Row 5

a little later..copyright 2007. I’ll be assigning Smilie and Frownie Note Faces by rows. Maestra sighed and said. Mrs. let’s make this a little more fair. Christopher Biffle 107 She said. To make things more interesting.. Mrs. if no row has more Smilies than Frownies . She knew her students always worked harder when they were trying to make up lost points. Then. Maestra gave both rows one Frownie Note Face. I’ll select a CD from the row that has more Smilies than Frownies at the end of the period . of course. but several got very close. “Well. On the first day Mrs. Mrs. Maestra soon found an opportunity early in the class and exclaimed “everyone is following directions too slowly!” She gave each row a Frownie Note Face.. Maestra made sure that no row won. Groan!” Her students groaned. .. If students in one row were talking to students in another row. “There are some people in each row who are not paying attention!” She gave each row another Frownie Note Face. no party.

Maestra was quite satisfied and so arranged things so her best row won. leaving their seat. Maybe you could give yourselves some hints. being rude to a classmate.” Mrs.. But I think you need a little help. “Good job.. Stage Four When her students were ready for something new. the more likely that she’d be able to keep the game going over the whole year.. I’m really liking this game. Maestra started class by saying “You know. the person who is closest gets to have their music played. You won a minute of music for the whole class. . Mrs. Mrs. She knew that the longer she remained in a stage. I’m going to pick a number from one to 100 . She applauded them and said. She wrote these on the board. Christopher Biffle 108 On the second day.. What are the kinds of things you’ve noticed that make me unhappy?” Her students mentioned speaking without raising their hand.copyright 2007. each person in this row who has a CD should tell me their guess . Maestra stayed in this stage as long as she could.

Christopher Biffle 109 Then Mrs. Now what kinds of things have you noticed that gets Smilie Faces?” Her students mentioned several things including the opposite of the Frownies. Occasionally. “Excellent. Maestra said. Maestra added the students comments on the board. You’re right. Then she let them play the game. These will be your hints for winning our music game. using rows as in Stage Three. new ways to keep the deejay happy. She encourage her students to think up new ways to win Smilies.copyright 2007. Mrs. Maestra asked her students to rehearse the Frownie and Smilie behavior. That stuff really gives me a Frownie Face. She said. Mrs. and a few more examples of student behavior that were her personal favorites for winning Smiles and avoiding Frownies. “All right. Maestra let students in the rows have a “row huddle” when they talk about how to use the hints on the board to gain Smilies for their group. Let’s leave those there. Mrs. Maestra felt like she was in teaching Heaven. Keep the DeeJay Happy!” Mrs. . for rest of the period.

this will . I’m liking our parties. Mrs. Mrs. we’ll divide the class up into teams.. Maestra looked at her list . reliable student. Then she said. a popular.copyright 2007. Maestra handed out a piece of paper with everyone’s name on it. She said. with the names of the six most popular students in class. But I wish we could party a little longer! So. After class. Maestra substituted Noreen. these were precisely the students she wanted helping her with classroom management! The next day. Mrs. Mrs. We’ll need a team captain for each of our six rows row. She noted John was one of the six.. These should be people who will be very good at getting their team to avoid Frownies and add Smilies. he wasn't quite reliable enough. The class has selected you as their leaders. but she decided not to include him in her plan. “Okay. Maestra totaled the votes... I want each of you to pick someone else who is going to be your co-leader . Christopher Biffle 110 Stage Five Eventually. “Well. of course. Put a check mark beside six names on the list who you think would be good team captains. at the end of a period. She ended up. Maestra read the names of the student leaders. Mrs.

Move to a row with your team captain and co-captain. Maestra now had 12 students on her side . Maestra experimented with where to put the team captains and cocaptains in the rows. The Birthday Game. Christopher Biffle 111 be the person you can trust to help you guide your team toward the wonderful goal of longer music parties in our class.” The leaders picked the co-leaders. “These assignments are temporary . she decided that having one in the front of the row and the other in the back worked best. Mrs.. Mrs. Maestra knew that other teachers might design other arrangements in their classroom.” Mrs.. Maestra said.. Mrs. Maestra then said. in a class with six row leaders. Over the following week.” She put most challenging students on teams with a leader and co-leader that she believed the challenging student wanted to please. 12 of the most popular kids her class! Mrs. (Of course. Maestra then announced the teams and had students move accordingly. “Tonight I’ll work out the teams.) The next day Mrs. At this point..) . we’ll change them as we need to.copyright 2007. (See Chapter 28.

Maestra continued to play the game for weeks. that certainly made the Deejay.. Christopher Biffle 112 Each day when Mrs. . Maestra let a row win the first 3 minute music party! Gosh.. Mrs. Before long.. which meant they got an instant Frownie. Maestra into giving them a Smilie. Maestra was ready to play the game she gave the teams a few minutes for a “row huddle” when they planed their strategy beating the other rows by getting m Smilie Note Faces than Frownies. would try to pressure Mrs. Whenever a row won. Occasionally. Maestra.. or other teams . Mrs. allowing row huddles as frequently as she thought necessary. unhappy. Mrs. She threw a few Frownies on the board and watched polite behavior increase. a row. her students were thrilled by winning 3 measly minutes!! Mrs.copyright 2007. If kids on teams were rude to their teammates . Maestra used the “pick a number from 1-100” method to select the music that was played.

Christopher Biffle 113 Stage Six Late in the year... “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. Maestra had a day to day running record of the row totals . Maestra do if a student wanted to leave a group? She took the student aside and said something like the following. Maestra announced a radical new rule. Maestra got all her students working hard all week to keep her happy. Mrs. but it was worth it. then you’re on my personal team.. You can join any other group. And believe me. Maestra pointed out that this could mean a 5-10 minute music party once a week! She believed this was a very fair trade for a well managed.. Students in the three highest scoring rows could bring CD’s and pick a number from 1-100. Mrs. But if no one wants you .) What did Mrs. you really won’t enjoy . hard working class. if you can convince the captain and co-captain to let you join.copyright 2007. In exchange. (This meant that Mrs. a hassle. Mrs. All Smilie minutes earned by the winning rows would be put in a Music Bank and cashed in each Friday.

then I’ll cut you a little slack. .” What did Mrs.” If the leader and co-leader were unsuccessful. how you want them to act. your teammate wants to stay on the team.copyright 2007. But. Maestra could convince no one else in class to take the student . and Mrs. but the individual didn’t want to leave? She took the team captain and co-captain aside and said. explain politely. Christopher Biffle 114 that. but exactly.. “Look. was to convince her that they saw the error of their ways and convince a captain and co-captain to let them join their team. Maestra’s team. She announced that players on her team would go to the office every Friday during the music party! She also said that all any student ever had to do to get off her team. Maestra do if students wanted to kick someone off the team. You have a real leadership problem. I won’t be so quick with the Frownie. If the two of you will take this person aside. then put she would put him or her on Mrs..

just say ‘okay. Mrs.” In fact. If I ask you to do something. please don’t give me guff . stop talking to his neighbor. It’s called the Please/Okay game. Here’s what Mrs..” She asked several students to rehearse the procedure with her. I ask you to do something. Maestra came into class with a large sign with two words on it: Please? Okay! She put the sign in a prominent place in the room. pay attention. . Maestra believed that teachers all over the planet would have been delighted if they could simply hear “Okay” from students when they were given a direction. whatever . Christopher Biffle 24 115 The Please/Okay Game Mrs.. and you say ‘okay’. One day. a few weeks after she introduced the Guff counter..’ That’s all I want .copyright 2007. Maestra did about this worldwide education problem. Mrs. Mrs. “I’m going to teach you a new game... Maestra said. John simply said “Okay. Maestra would have been very happy with John if whenever she asked him to do something.. sit up.

Maestra: Excellent! Maria. Maestra: Fantastic! Now. Mrs. look at me.. here’s how we play the Please/Okay game. pretend I say to you. what if I ask you to do your work more neatly. . please fold your hands on your desk. If I don’t say please. Jack. la. please look at me. la. you can just stare into space and say “la. la” until I remember to use good manners.copyright 2007. please sit up. Mrs. Maestra: Excellent! Polly. Mrs. Maestra: Fantastic! John. John: Okay. Maestra: Alex. Mrs. let’s practice. what if I ask you to stop talking to your neighbor. Polly: Okay! Mrs. la. Maestra: John. you don’t have to say okay! In fact. Jack: Okay! Mrs. John: (staring into space) La. Christopher Biffle 116 Mrs. Maestra: Tisha. please keep your hands to yourself. what do you say? Maria: Okay. Tisha: Okay. Now. la. What do you say? Alex: Okay.

In fact. if you hear me ask a student to please do something and they don’t say okay . Maestra’s students enjoyed the Please/Okay game. Maestra was that it reminded her to consistently say “please” when she wanted her students to follow a direction. but firmly. “La. Maestra would have far rather had him say “la.copyright 2007. la. having John say “la.” John thought he was really getting away with something. Maestra that she rehearsed the procedure (as she had . tell that student to ‘Please. Christopher Biffle 117 Mrs. One crucial feature of the game for Mrs.. la. la. To make it even more amusing. Maestra then said. la. often irritating behavior. la” and know she had his attention. on purpose. Maestra’s system! He was rebelling himself into perfect cooperation! John was such a troublesome student that Mrs. la” made him part of Mrs. than his usual. to say “Please” especially with John. John always responded. The “Please/Okay” game was so important to Mrs. “Very good! Now. Mrs.” Mrs. that’s Guff! Politely. stop’ or I’ll have to assume that you all support impoliteness and so I’ll have to add one point to the Guff Counter.. Maestra would sometimes forget.

“You’ve all been doing very well with Please-Okay. At the end of each day. la” part. She picked something that was very important to her.copyright 2007. Please/Okay. we’ll have a 5 minute popcorn party at the end of the day! Tell each other how much you’d love to have a 5 minute popcorn party!!!” Mrs. Note Mrs. and he almost always went along. Then one day Mrs. Maria and Polly) for a week. . I’ll think about how we’ve been doing with Please/Okay and Please stop! If it seems like we’ve been doing very well then I’ll give the entire class a star here on the front board. Late in the year. especially if he got the “la. When we have 10 stars. if you’ll remind me. Christopher Biffle 118 with Alex. la. Gosh. that was exciting. for only about a minute a day. Maestra said. Mrs. for a long term reward. Maestra often included John in the rehearsal. Maestra’s overall strategy. Here’s what we’re going to do. Maestra’s students told each other about how wonderful it would be to have a 5 minute popcorn party. Mrs. when her class needed additional motivation. She used the Scoreboard Game for short term rewards or penalties at the end of the day. Maestra increased the party from 5 to 10 minutes.

Maestra worked things out so that her class usually. But once in awhile I would just love to hear someone say something very polite.” . Maestra never forgot the one day. Mam’ when I asked you to please follow one of my directions. Mrs. Of course. dance. ended up with 10 stars by the end of Friday afternoon. “You know. Christopher Biffle 119 about once a week. One day she said.” Mrs. it would be wonderful if you said ‘Yes.copyright 2007. “Yes. he said. Mam. Maestra was a little bit old fashioned. Mam. but not always. You might not feel comfortable with this and if so. When the class had mastered Please/Okay. that’s fine. if you wanted to make me quite happy. play a game. Mrs. listen to music. Maestra picked another star task and let the class vote on what they wanted to do during their 5 minute party. Mrs. it was a lovely day early in the spring. when she asked John to stop fiddling with a key chain. like ‘Yes.

. even months using the Scoreboard Game and other Power Teaching classroom management techniques so that all her students understand her rules and procedures. “I’m sure there have been many days when you had less recess than you wanted or many evenings when you’ve had more homework than you liked . Mrs. So. It will be much . We’ll divide into teams. Maestra often spent several weeks. here’s what we’re going to do. Mrs. To move toward a self managing class. Mrs. and I’m sure you would enjoy finding a way to play the Scoreboard game more successfully. each team will have a leader. In addition. The leader’s job will be to help his or her team members focus on getting Smilies and avoiding Frownies. She said the following to her students.. Christopher Biffle 25 120 Student Leaders Before training student leaders.copyright 2007. Maestra’s class needed to have ample experience of the pleasure of earning Smilies and avoiding Frownies. Maestra trained student leaders to take over the classroom management tasks that she had been overseeing.

I’m going to let each of you pick one person to join your team who you think would really back you up and keep your team members headed in the right direction.. Mrs.lots of leaders equaled more organization. Maestra often saw that she had a list of many of the most popular students in class. to guide an entire class toward wining the Scoreboard game.copyright 2007. Maestra planned to have one leader for every four students . Christopher Biffle 121 easier for your team leaders to guide a few team members. me. . I think we’ve made a very good choice. So. than for one person. Mrs. We’ll try this system for two weeks. Maestra found an opportunity to take her special students aside and said the following.. She always picked the students she thought would be the best leaders (Mrs. When she received the names of the leaders from her students .) Next. Maestra felt no compulsion to pick the top eight students that her class selected.” Mrs. if she believed these students would not be best for classroom management. I’ll select the rest of your team for you. “I and the class have selected you as some of our best leaders. write down the names of the 8 people in this class that you think would be good classroom leaders.

they’ll get reelected (and Mrs. I’ll look over their choices. Students will do almost anything to sit with a friend. The two of you can. The important advantage to you of being a team leader is not only that it is fun. if you don’t talk to each other during work time. Maestra’s leaders. were Mrs. Maestra will support their reelection) .copyright 2007. Mrs. if not. the leaders and co-leaders.. then you’ll get to be leaders again. If the leaders did a good job of leading students toward less homework. Maestra had created. think about the structure Mrs. as part of her system. someone else will get their plum job. but also that you get to have one of your friends on your team.” Now. In addition. Precisely the kids that most students want to follow. sit together. Maestra found that the system worked even better if she gave the leaders and co-leaders tasks to perform every period. She had half the class. Christopher Biffle 122 and then I’ll ask the class to pick 8 leaders again. . Finally. the whole system was performance based. she had used the very powerful reward of allowing friends to sit together as a motivator.. She handed them the following list. If you’ve been doing a good job.

. Pick numbers from 1-5 and have your team quickly say the rule and make the gesture. The students that the class selected.copyright 2007. Don’t review the rules in order . enjoy being in charge . 3. Never allow a team member to guff anyone. you have the cliques working for you. be the first on your team to follow them. If you give your leaders tasks like the above. that is too easy. Christopher Biffle 123 Leaders’ Responsibilities 1. Be firm. 2.. Whenever I ask you to. Find out if there is anything I can do to help them. 5.. Energetically give “woos” and “it’s cool!” 4. Point at the procedures and have your team quickly explain each picture. say “Please. When I give directions.. Instead of working against the natural clique structure of your students. leading maintains and solidifies their position in the social hierarchy. stand up and lead your team in a review of the rules and procedures. . Meet individually with students who are having a hard time following classroom rules or procedures. stop!” but don’t answer guff with guff. they will lead.

if you can convince the team leader and co-leader to let you join. You have a real leadership problem. If the two of you will take this person aside. But if no one wants you .. I won’t be so quick with the Frowny. your teammate wants to stay on the team. And believe me. explain politely.” If the leader and co-leader are unsuccessful. but the individual doesn’t want to leave? Take the team leader and co-leader aside and say. Students on your team automatically go into the Independent group and get Frownies with stunning swiftness. Make being on your team the worst news a student can get.” What should you do if students want to kick someone off the team.copyright 2007.. you really won’t enjoy that... But also point this out: all students ever . But. then you’re on my personal team. then put him/her on your personal team. and you can convince no one else in class to take the student . then I’ll cut you a little slack. You can join any other group. how you want them to act. “Look. but exactly. Christopher Biffle 124 What do you do if a student wants to leave a group? Take the student aside and say something like the following. “I’ll tell you what I’ll do.

we’re ready to make significant improvements in your grades. is convince you that they see the error of their ways and convince a leader and coleader to let them join their team. To make learning teams work in the structure we have described above. but strong students gain increased subject mastery when they have the opportunity to instruct their peers. Creating Learning Teams There is a large amount of educational research which shows that students are more successful when they participate in student learning teams than when they study alone. Now. I’m going to keep the same . Not only do weak students benefit by being taught by other students. you will have begun to identify your academically stronger and weaker students. “I’m very happy with how the student leaders and their teams have been doing. Say something like the following to your class. About a third of the way into the year.copyright 2007. you may have to juggle the membership of the teams. Christopher Biffle 125 have to do to get off your team.

When you hand out the rosters of the new teams. These lists can contain words and definitions. and every team will have students who can do better. explain to your class that you may need to occasionally reorganize the teams. dates and events. event. Students can master hundreds of flash cards in a year. Every team will have students who have been doing very well so far. Hand out lists of material that the class can turn into flash cards. Be sure every team has at least one strong student. Give biweekly flash card tests and give teams in- . for now.” Sort the teams by the grades they have earned in your class.copyright 2007. Here are some suggestions for team oriented academic activities: 1. date. and reorganize the teams so that each group is about academically equal. problem on the front of the card and the definition. is for everyone to academically improve. Put the very strongest students on a team with the weakest students. Christopher Biffle 126 leaders. Your goal. multiplication problems and answers. answer on the back. Students put the word. you explain. any set of information that has a “front” and a “back”.

recess. take your student leaders and strongest academic students aside for periodic conferences. During quiet study periods. given the opportunity. 3. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many of your kids. . will aid their classmates. Give students lists of spelling words or math facts to master. Ask them if they would be willing to volunteer to help weaker students outside of class . 2. on task activity. Christopher Biffle 127 class time to study. Give teams in-class time to quiz each other. Challenge teams to break their previous team records for silent.. As these team activities proceed. The team’s goal should be setting a new record for the team’s average score on the tests. Discuss ways that classroom organization and team academic abilities can be improved. Praise them for their service to the class. before or after school.. The team goal should be to set new records for the team’s average score on weekly spelling tests. use a digital clock to time how long each team can stay quietly on task.copyright 2007. at lunch.

copyright 2007. . a founder of Power Teaching. The cards came in 5 colors. Maestra moved on to another classroom management device: Card Pockets. Maestra also showed the class that she had made a stack of 3 X 5 cards. Maestra found Card Pockets was a good supplement to the classroom leadership system she was developing. Christopher Biffle 26 128 You Bet Your Recess (The original version of the following technique was developed by Jay Vanderfin.) After she had used the Scoreboard and the Scoreboard with Independents for awhile. Mrs. a long sheet of paper with each students’ number on a pocket. Each color had a classroom rule printed on it.) One morning the class found a display on the front board. (Mrs. Mrs. She had 10 cards of each color: Red: Rule 1: Follow directions quickly! Blue: Rule 2: Raise your hand for permission to speak.

that changing a classroom management routine always renewed her students’ interest in following her rules. During recess. Mrs. When someone breaks a classroom rule. Maestra found. Tell your neighbors how to play You Bet Your Recess. I’ll simply take one of the cards and put it in their card pocket.. Green: Rule 4: Make smart choices. Maestra explained. Christopher Biffle 129 Yellow: Rule 3: Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat. She then implemented the Scoreboard Game with Independents which targeted groups of her most challenging students. I often won’t even say their name. one minute for each card. Maestra introduced card . we’re going to play a new game: You Bet Your Recess.copyright 2007. She began with the Scoreboard Game which addressed the behavior of all her students. Maestra followed a cunningly designed strategy. Mrs. I’ll put another card in their card pocket. you’ll practice following directions for any cards in your card pocket .. If the student complains. as she always did. “Now that you all understand the classroom rules.” Mrs. White: Rule 5: Keep your dear teacher happy. Next Mrs.

Maestra didn’t have to remember who did what. She wrote the instructions on the board (if she had students who couldn’t read directions she would have used pictures. The card pockets did that for her. Christopher Biffle 130 pockets to fine tune her classroom management. Maestra simply gave the students who had to stay in a set of instructions. Mrs. Wait 10 seconds. .Mrs.Mrs. penalties were given to individual students for specific infractions.) -. Stand up quietly. (This variation was developed by Andrea Schindler. During recess. Mrs.) The directions were: 1. a Power Teaching Veteran. -. 2. Push your chair in quietly. Maestra didn’t have to interrupt her lesson! She kept teaching the whole time she was putting the card in the pocket. Pull your chair out quietly.copyright 2007. 3.Everyone paid intense attention as soon as she picked up a card and walked to the card pockets. Maestra found several powerful advantages to the card pockets: -. They wanted to know who was going to get dinged.

copyright 2007. Christopher Biffle 131 4. 6. Raise your hand. She set a timer for one minute. Mrs. The students did not have to stay together as they followed the directions. Sit down. Lower your hand. 8. Begin again at number 1 During recess. laughed or even snickered. Maestra told the students to follow these directions on their own. Using the timer method. 11. Maestra told them that if they spoke one word to each other. Following her usual strategy. Look at your science book for 10 seconds. no matter what card they had in their card pocket. 5. Maestra had . 9. Hold your hand up for 10 seconds. Maestra was able to do her own chores while the students disciplined themselves. 10. she would reset the timer. 7. Mrs. Students who had the most cards received additional time on the timer. but Mrs. Mrs. What they needed was practice following directions. Put your science book away quietly. Quietly get out your science book.

He loved getting rewards. Maestra introduced the idea of “star cards. when he was having a bad day. Maestra gave him a star card the instant she saw even the smallest improvement in his behavior. Christopher Biffle 132 several more variations of You Bet Your Recess that she introduced in following weeks. especially her Joan and John. She worked out a system where students could cash in star cards for small rewards. take the card out of the pocket. When students. she just might. One day she introduced the idea of the “work off. Mrs. or use them to “cancel” a classroom rule violation card. Another day Mrs.” If students with cards in their card pockets worked extremely hard she might. Mrs. . she put a star card in their pocket.copyright 2007. Maestra found the star cards were especially helpful with John. were doing a good job of classroom rules.” She put a big gold star on a number of 3 X 5 cards.

and beamed when she got praise.” Mrs. Christopher Biffle 27 133 Praise Therapy Mrs. Maestra had the opportunity. . Maestra found that praise therapy. Maestra noted that Joan was the kind of student who wanted a lot of attention. she praised Joan for even the smallest positive behavior. I really liked how quietly you slid in your chair.copyright 2007. Whenever Mrs.” “Joan you are doing an excellent job of waiting in line. often had remarkably positive results with her challenging students.” “Joan thank you for raising your hand. a very simple technique. “Joan.

Christopher Biffle 28 134 The Birthday Game Mrs. She did not want to give this reward away without getting excellent behavior in return. Maestra used in setting up the Birthday Game. Maestra handed out “1 minute buddy passes” so that friends could sit next to each other (so long as they behave perfectly) for 1 minute .) Here are the four steps Mrs. She used a special technique to discover groups of favorite friends 2. Mrs. Maestra knew that her students would do almost anything to sit with a favorite friend. Maestra rearranged the seating so favorite friends (especially of challenging students) sat far apart 3.copyright 2007. 1. and then use this information to improve the behavior of challenging students (and others. In exchange for good behavior. Next Mrs. Mrs. Maestra believed that the Birthday Game was a way to identify groups of favorite friends.

. Later in the year. and often revealed surprising patterns. “Let’s play the Birthday Game. Maestra was especially interested in learning who her challenging students wanted to be connected to . she collected the lists. Christopher Biffle 135 4. Mrs. To tabulate the results. Maestra. etc. Mrs. Maestra wrote every student’s name on a sheet of paper and then drew three arrows from each student to the students they would invite to their parties. Put a check mark beside the names of three students in this class that you would invite to your birthday party. This was powerful information for Mrs. Maestra extend the buddy passes to 5 minutes. Stage One: discover groups of favorite friends Mrs. She said.copyright 2007. and who wanted to connect with them. The students with the most arrows attached to them were the most popular students in class. 10 minutes. Maestra started by giving her students a list of every student in class.” Then... Mrs.

Mrs. Mrs. Christopher Biffle 136 Stage Two: rearrange the seating so favorite friends (especially of challenging students) sit far apart Several days after she had collected and collated the birthday lists. Stage Three: Reward with buddy passes Whenever Mrs..” After 15 minutes were up. If each one wanted the other at his/her party. Mrs. so that her students didn’t know she was using the lists as her “rearrangement” information.copyright 2007. Maestra sat everyone away from their special buddy. Maestra paid special attention to challenging students who connected to each other. she put an oven timer on the front board and said something like the following. if their favorite friend has also done excellent work. Maestra waited several days. Maestra rearranged the seating. Maestra allowed a few students .. Mrs. the she sat them as far apart as possible. “Everyone who does excellent work for the next 15 minutes will be given a 1 minute buddy pass to sit with their favorite friend . Mrs. Maestra wanted her class to perform extremely well.

The fewer buddy minutes she started with. Mrs. she needed extra classroom management tricks to keep students motivated. Mrs. Maestra made sitting with a friend an extremely valuable commodity. Mrs. To make this whole procedure go more smoothly.) Initially. she also increased the amount of time students had to work excellently to earn their buddy pass. rewarding the class with Smilies when they rehearsed well (and penalizing them with Frownies when they rehearsed poorly. the students should returned to their original seats. She then reset the timer and when it went off after a minute. Maestra rehearsed getting up and changing seats. by only giving out 1 minute buddy passes. Maestra could turn up student enthusiasm by gradually extending the amount of time buddies could sit together. As the year progressed. . Maestra knew from long experience that late in the year. the more golden the extra minutes would be in May and June. Mrs. Christopher Biffle 137 to trade seats. She knew that gold is a precious metal partly because of its rarity.copyright 2007.

Christopher Biffle Mrs. while sitting together. 138 .copyright 2007. Maestra only let buddies sit together if their behavior. is perfect. Otherwise. buddies simply bred a new classroom management problem.

to her birthday party. Lining up 2. LeAnn was the kind of student who delighted in doing favors for Mrs. more enormously than enormously.copyright 2007. Among other positive qualities. Opening books 4. Christopher Biffle 29 139 Positive Tattling After the Birthday Game. one of the most popular students in class. “I know we’ve had some challenges this semester in following our classroom rules and procedures. Maestra said the following to Joan. After checking with LeAnn. Being seated 3.. Maestra. “Yes! Let’s ask LeAnn to help me!” Mrs. Mrs. Handing in papers 6. Mrs. Handing out papers 5. Should we ask LeAnn to help you?” Joan smiled enormously .. Maestra noticed that Joan wanted to invite LeAnn. Maestra showed Joan a set of behaviors: 1. Raising your hand for permission to ask a question . Getting pencils sharpened 7.

Mrs. handing in papers. Responding “Yes” when Mrs. Maestra said. and giving a student a woo. Saying “it’s cool!” when someone makes a mistake 12. LeAnn will show you how you’ve been doing. Saying “Please. the two of you can share your score sheet with me. Joan selected lining up. “That’s an excellent start. Maestra uses the volume-O-meter Mrs. I only want to point out one thing: this isn’t an excuse for you to talk to LeAnn in . Raising your hand for permission to leave your seat 9. Christopher Biffle 140 8. Responding “hands and eyes” when Mrs.copyright 2007. At the start of each recess. Maestra says “Class!” 10. Maestra says “hands and eyes” 11. Maestra or another student 13. I’ll give LeAnn a list of those three items and tell her to make a mark on the list every time you do well on that item. Lowering your voice when Mrs. Maestra asked Joan to select three behaviors that she would like LeAnn to help her with. Giving a student a woo 14. stop!” when a student guffs Mrs. At the end of the day.

copyright 2007.” Joan loved the new system. we’ll try something else. . or point out to her what she should be writing down on your list. if you don’t let her do her job. She is your personal Scorekeeper. Christopher Biffle 141 class.

Mrs. John was no exception. When you forget. we will use the stopwatch to help you remember to raise your hand to ask a question. Tomorrow. Maestra said. Every day you’ll get a new chance to break your record. Christopher Biffle 30 142 The Magic Stopwatch Game John often forgot to raise his hand when he had a question or comment. Maestra took him aside and showed him a new. I’ll let you start and stop the watch yourself for one session. one of your table leaders. But please . you can keep using the watch. Paul will stop the watch and write down your personal record. I’m going to let you try something very special. Maestra had never known a student who wasn’t fascinated by stopwatches. we’ll try the same thing. red stopwatch. One day Mrs. After lunch. She showed John how the stopwatch worked and let him click the buttons. depending on how you’re doing. or we’ll try something else. “John.copyright 2007. I’ll have Paul. start the watch and time how long you can go before you forget to raise your hand. Mrs. Paul will take the watch back. When you’ve broken your record 5 times. Then.

challenging students like John often deeply wanted an audience. she was employing a fascinating piece of technology. if you disturb him while he is doing his job. which. even for something so simple as obeying a class rule. Paul is your Personal Timekeeper. few in her class had ever used. powerfully appealed to her class. Maestra loved. someone to pay attention to them. . Second. a stopwatch. Having someone else time their good behavior was the kind of audience for challenging students that Mrs.” Mrs. First. Christopher Biffle 143 remember this. surprisingly. Maestra understood the power of her Stopwatch Game. we’ll save the stopwatch for later in the year. Third. the idea of setting personal records.copyright 2007.

Mrs. that would help John continue to improve his behavior. Maestra had learned that John. . Maestra collected the following game materials: A large. bull’s eye that she posted prominently in class. Maestra decided to invent a game. one of the most challenging students in her career. Christopher Biffle 31 144 The Bull’s Eye Game Mrs. These would be John’s “weekly Bull’s Eye calendar” for pasting stickers and recording behavior scores. Then Mrs. A “Sticker Bank” of 25+ stickers ranging from simple to elaborate designs displayed on a board. was almost immune to any form of penalty. 5 circle. and so she made the Bull’s Eye Game 100% reward.copyright 2007. Maestra taught John how to play. A key feature of the game was that it would involve no punishment. Mrs. Sheets of paper divided into 5 boxes. she called it the Bull’s Eye Game.

raising your hand for permission to speak -. Maestra -. Christopher Biffle 145 Selecting a behavior goal In a one-on-one session Mrs. from inside to outside.following the teacher’s directions -. 2. Maestra’s behavior goals were: -. for many challenging students. “speaking respectfully”. were labeled 5.not speaking or making noise during “silent work” periods -. Goals like “playing safely”. Maestra showed John the bull’s eye diagram with five circles. Mrs. Examples of Mrs. 4.standing in line with your hands folded in front of Mrs.raising your hand for permission to leave your seat -. The circles. “being good” are. . 1. nebulous.looking at the teacher. when she speaks -. Challenging students need easy to understand standards. Maestra’s goals were very specific. Maestra explained that when John scored a “bull’s eye day” he had perfectly achieved the behavior goal that he chose (and Mrs. Maestra agreed to).not touching others Note that Mrs.copyright 2007. 3.

Maestra modeled John’s most typical avoidance behavior. Maestra found that encouraging John to choose his behavior goal significantly deepened his involvement in the game. Mrs. Rehearsing the behavior goal John and Mrs. Maestra gave directions and John stared around the classroom. Then.copyright 2007. Role switching rehearsal of appropriate and inappropriate behavior continued until John clearly understood the behavior goal. she became the challenging student who did not follow directions. Maestra gave normal classroom directions and John followed them. Christopher Biffle 146 Mrs. . Maestra then asked John to model inappropriate behavior. Maestra took turns rehearsing the behavior goal. “following the teacher’s directions” that John chose. or laughed. Maestra changed roles. Then John and Mrs. to make the rehearsal entertaining. groaned. Mrs. banged on the desk. Maestra followed them. Mrs. To rehearse “following the teacher’s directions” Mrs. John gave normal classroom directions and Mrs. Much to John’s delight.

“When we meet I will write down what I think your score is . If you finish the day . at lunch and after school) to evaluate John’s performance. but also.. you’ll receive 2 points. Maestra believed that the rehearsal stage was very important. Initially. She and John would meet several times a day (for example. Maestra explained that John’s task was to try to score Bull’s Eye days by perfectly hitting the behavior goal. If your score matches mine. and more importantly. If you are only 1 point away from my score. rehearsal created an entertaining bond between teacher and student. you’ll receive one point. but I won’t show you what I’ve written.. I’ll show you my score.. Not only did it begin to imprint John with the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. she had many meetings with John. Christopher Biffle 147 Mrs. Mrs.copyright 2007. 5 is a perfect bull’s eye . Maestra said. later she only had to meet him at the end of the day. at the start of each recess. You then tell me what me think your score is and explain your reasoning. Explaining the Bull’s Eye Game Mrs.. Next.

when John only earned a 1. you’ll receive 5 points. with Mrs. It was very important that Mrs. Maestra’s one point stickers were small and single color. wonderful 10 point stickers.. Maestra was “nice’ and gave a 3. from Mrs. and add up points..copyright 2007. Christopher Biffle 148 with what we both agree is a Bull’s Eye day.) Playing the game Mrs. she and John rehearsed the behavior goal several times. Maestra honestly evaluated John’s behavior. For example. often switching roles. John would learn nothing if Mrs. scored a 1 or 2 on the bull’s eye. . Maestra met John several times a day to compare scores. Two point stickers were larger and had two colors . and so on up to Mrs. Maestra taking the John’s part. Mrs. Maestra’s gaudy.” (Mrs. Maestra believed that honest evaluation was an excellent way for challenging students to learn a teacher’s standards. When John. Maestra’s point of view. You can use your points to buy stickers from my special Sticker Bank.

other goals were added. When John had difficulty meeting a behavior goal. As he became more successful in meeting his targets. Stickers that John had purchased from the Sticker Bank were put on the calendar.By allowing students to choose their behavior . Maestra made a copy of John’s weekly calendar page and gave the original to John. you’re missing the bull’s eye. Each Friday. Christopher Biffle 149 Mrs. Then you should nod. -. that mean’s that you have to think more carefully.” Advantages of playing Bull’s Eye Mrs. Maestra offered to help John. Maestra kept a daily record on the calendar of John’s and her scores and what behavior goals were targeted. After a week or two. you and I will have a secret sign.copyright 2007. so that I know you’ve gotten my secret message. saying “If you want. Maestra realized that the Bulls Eye game had many obvious advantages. Mrs. Maestra encouraged him to choose a new goal. that means you’re really hitting the bull’s eye. Mrs. When you see me point at my head. Mrs. When you see me pointing at my eye.

Challenging students are trained in the high level intellectual skill of objective. positive bond develops between teacher and student -. self-critical evaluation of their own behavior.The weekly calendar provides a simple way to evaluate a student's progress. for both the challenging student and the teacher -. student involvement in the classroom management system is greatly increased -. because of role switching.A challenging student can be successful even on the worst days.During brief counseling sessions.By focusing on only one behavior goal at a time. the student is imprinted with the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior and. the Bull’s Eye game vastly simplifies classroom management . teachers can refocus the student on the behavior goal -.copyright 2007. Christopher Biffle 150 goals. this is especially important when behavior changes may only appear over monthly periods -.During rehearsals. simply by matching the teacher’s score -. which are powerful alternatives to scolding.. .. an entertaining.

and complaints about her. was handling her complaints. and created a unique learning opportunity with the following form. Maestra solved her problem.copyright 2007. Christopher Biffle 32 151 Short Form Complaints One of the difficulties Mrs. Ninety percent of the complaints were about trivial issues that students should have been able to resolve themselves. Mrs. ********************************************************** Short Form Complaint THE FOLLOWING SHOULD BE VERY CLEARLY WRITTEN WITH NO MISSPELLINGS Your name: ____________________________________________ Date: ____________________ Your Complaint: ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ . Maestra had with Joan. by other students.

“If you believe this is important. or another student complained to her. If the complaint was very legible and contained no misspellings she investigated the issue. Mrs. (If it was not a trivial issue. Maestra would say. Maestra and wouldn’t fill out a form. Maestra could tell immediately if it was a trivial issue. Maestra kept her promise. see below. Initially. If it is very clearly written and has no misspellings I will look into it. and tempers had cooled.” Joan rarely followed through by filling out the Short Form Complaint. it was usually easy to solve. Christopher Biffle 152 ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ********************************************************** As soon as Joan. Mrs. Of course. she either used the Long Form Complaint.) For trivial issues. Maestra . please file a Short Form Complaint with me by tomorrow afternoon. When Joan did fill out the form. Joan would try to continue to complain to Mrs.copyright 2007. Mrs. Mrs. since at least 24 hours had elapsed since the trivial incident. or looked into the matter immediately.

worked for the Department of Motor Vehicles. and simply handed Joan the complaint form (in her younger days. very usefully.copyright 2007. Maestra had. Christopher Biffle 153 refused to respond.) . Mrs.

Maestra followed her school policy for dealing with serious altercations. Mrs. he never believed that he was in the wrong. In addition. John was also the kind of student who had a genius for bringing out the worst in others.. She found simply having students fill out the Long Form was a useful way for them to begin to calm down . when these arguments became physical or verbally vicious. .copyright 2007. Maestra used the Long Form Complaint to address quarrels between students. Mrs. (Of course. Whenever possible. Christopher Biffle 33 154 Long Form Complaints One of John’s largest problems was that he was frequently involved in arguments with other students..) John was very pugnacious verbally. (and to develop important writing skills!) ****************************************************************** Long Form Complaint The following should be very clearly written with no misspellings.

Christopher Biffle 155 Your name: _________________________________________________ Date: _______________________ Your Complaint: ___________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ (attach extra sheets of paper if necessary) What positive actions did you engage in?: ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ .copyright 2007.

Christopher Biffle 156 ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ Did you touch the other person? Yes No Did you use any profanity? Yes No Did you call the other person names? Yes No Did you make negative comments about the person's appearance or clothing? Yes No Did you speak louder than your normal voice? Yes No Did you offer a solution to the problem? Yes No If Yes: What solution did you offer? _________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ .copyright 2007.

would they all agree with your statements above? Yes No No Witnesses What solution are you offering now? ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ . Christopher Biffle 157 ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ Were you the first person to walk away from this incident? Yes No Very important: if there were witnesses to this incident.copyright 2007.

making negative comments about the other person's appearance or clothing -. As part of her discussion.using profanity -. for both parties. Maestra presented a copy of this form to each of her students.. Mrs. painful . Maestra explained that disagreements were inevitable in human society but that the most common behaviors in disagreements almost always made the conflicts more.not being the first to walk away Mrs. Maestra pointed out that she had high standards for her students.speaking in a loud voice -. rather than less..having physical contact -.copyright 2007.calling names -. Christopher Biffle 158 When Mrs. Maestra patiently explained why each of the following behaviors could enflame a disagreement and cause harm to the person employing them: -. She knew that she was asking them to .not offering a solution -. the first that many of her students had ever been in. she had a very useful discussion about conflict resolution. Mrs.

be the first person to walk away (etc. don’t use profanity. Maestra said she had no choice. Maestra could use it to counsel them about the best way to handle quarrels: don’t touch the other person. Mrs. Mrs.After she had a written record.No matter how students filled out the form.Mrs. Mrs. don’t make comments about the other person’s appearance or clothing. Maestra always praised John when he was even minimally self critical because she knew this was an important new skill for him. Mrs. Maestra could talk to each party individually or separately. Maestra could read all the paper work and . -.” When the Long Form Complaint was filled out..copyright 2007. -. Maestra had an array of useful options. She could then use the “self incriminating” sections of the form to encourage the students to be honestly self critical . Maestra often would let tempers calm down and deal with the issue the next day.Mrs. Christopher Biffle 159 behave in ways that were beyond the ability of most adults. Mrs..) -. -. “I’ve dedicated myself to helping you be an amazing person that everyone admires.

a kind and judicious instructor. -. Maestra. Christopher Biffle 160 then instruct both parties to propose a solution. Maestra might have both parties sign a “Separation Agreement. Mrs. (This would force them to agree to something!) The mediator would then hear both sides and then propose a solution to Mrs. and also to Mrs.Mrs. Maestra.Mrs.” (see below) . chose this option if she thought the wisest action on her part was to bury one. If not. complainers in paper work.If no resolution seemed possible. Maestra. Maestra could instruct both parties to find a mediator in class that they agreed to. -. -. or both. and on going conflict appeared inevitable. then the problem was solved. Maestra enforced her own solution.copyright 2007. If the solution was acceptable to the students. Mrs. Mrs. Maestra could request another Long Form be filed if the original was not perfectly legible or contained misspellings.

agree to not speak to. I understand that I am in violation of this agreement on any occasion that I speak to. Signed _____________________________________________ . or have contact with this person. or have any other kind of contact with _________________________________________________ _____________________________ until __________ (fill in a date and time). I further understand that my violation of this agreement will have serious consequences. ______________________________________. or has any contact with me. she had two quarreling students sign a Separation Agreement. Maestra judged it was best. even if the person above speaks to.copyright 2007. occasionally found himself in irresolvable conflicts. first. Christopher Biffle 34 161 Separation Agreements John. When Mrs. like all humans. ****************************************************************** Separation Agreement I.

she could turn up the pressure by becoming a bit Machiavellian. Second.copyright 2007. or she could fill in the days herself. Maestra had students who had signed several Separation Agreements (and who thus had frequent problems with classmates). Maestra had the option of filling in a serious consequence when the agreement was signed. to . Maestra would list all the negative consequences possible and then have the student rank the consequences. from most. Mrs. Third. or deciding on a consequence after it was broken. Neither wanted to talk to the other. Fourth. when Mrs. Christopher Biffle 162 Mrs. and the agreement formalized the separation. Mrs. Maestra used the separation agreement in several ways. First. the agreement itself was often the best solution for classmates who didn't’ get along. she had the option of having the students agree to the number of days they should have no contact.

Mrs. Maestra And so forth. Mrs. to oversee the agreement’s enforcement. the vice principal -.sitting for a week in the desk next to Mrs. personally desirable. In other words. Sixth. allies of each party. Maestra could post the agreement.detention for a day -. making it “public” and thus involving the entire class as watchdogs.no recess for a day -. Fifth: If Mrs. Maestra could select a few students. she would have each student rank the penalties for the other student .a note home to parents -. Brutte. by having students rank their penalties. Maestra wanted to turn up the pressure still further. Or.5 pages extra homework -. Mrs.a meeting with Mrs. Maestra would have important clues about which punishment would have the strongest effect.copyright 2007. Here are some consequences for violating the agreement that students might rank: -. The last thing a student like John wanted was to have one of his class enemies decided how he should be punished. Christopher Biffle 163 least . . and she rarely needed to.

would cause the quarreling students to laugh. Mrs. Maestra asked her most popular students to encourage the quarreling classmates to. the contract became something like a game.” Mrs. Maestra told her class to cheer when the quarreling students exchanged their greeting . John. of course.. exchange a greeting at the exact time specified on the contract.” “Hello. by having a specific time filled in down to the minute. As the time approached for the contract to be terminated. Christopher Biffle 164 Seventh. “Hello..copyright 2007. . this. A good end to their quarrel. at minimum. Juan.

Maestra eventually had to schedule a parent/teacher conference with John’s parents. Christopher Biffle 35 165 Item Contracts/Notes Home Mrs. She told Jodie and Jack that she was now going to send a note home with John each day that they should initial and return. When she met Jodie and Jack. why John was such a handful. Mrs. Maestra presented herself as she truly was. Mrs. Maestra carefully selected these items. She would give John a grade on three items she wanted him to work on: -. she understood.raising his hand for permission to speak Mrs.copyright 2007. Walking in the hallway would be relatively easy for John. Maestra was glad that she had tried a number of different strategies to help John become a less challenging.walking.raising his hand for permission to leave his seat -. fairly soon. in the hallways -. a caring and resourceful teacher. raising his hand for permission to leave his seat or speak would be . not running. She described to Jodie and Jack each of the Power Teaching strategies in this booklet that she had tried.

Mrs. Mrs. never fail. Christopher Biffle 166 much more difficult. it seemed a waste of time. news. Maestra never wanted to go back to her early days of teaching when she felt at her wit’s end and didn’t know what to try with her difficult students. Maestra discussed with Jodie and Jack what kinds of discipline were appropriate for John at home. Maestra was happy to have parent conferences as one of many ways to help her students become less challenging. Mrs. Nonetheless. As an experienced Power Teacher. Maestra knew that if worse came to worse. parent involvement proved remarkably effective. had mixed results with sending notes home. As much as anything else.copyright 2007. she had an ultimate. strategy: the Top Secret Brown Bag. . Mrs. Maestra’s strategy was to give John a note home that would have good. Maestra. Sometimes. She hoped John’s parents took her advice. Sometimes. frankly. as well as not so good. Mrs. Mrs.

And so. Maestra did not want John to have to “earn” a lunch. when Mrs.copyright 2007. she simply wanted to bring a pleasant surprise into . Maestra came into class with a hefty brown bag labeled “Top Secret. Mrs.. Maestra understood that with John and Joan she had to play a dual role: Nice Cop and Tough Cop. rebellious boy. the one boy she had least success with during the year. Of course.. she packed a lunch for the two of them in her brown bag. Maestra knew. never had living human contact with the energetic. Maestra told everyone what was in the Top Secret Brown Bag . and who it was for. Maestra wanted to do something for John that required nothing on John’s part. Mrs. Her problem was that she had never been able to really reach John .” She placed it in the front of the room on her desk. Mrs. Mrs. incredibly stunned.. John was stunned. In the bag was a wonder that would reach John. all her students were eager to know what was in the bag.. Christopher Biffle 36 167 The Top Secret Brown Bag One day Mrs.

Mrs. she would pack lunches for several students. Maestra. Maestra. At the end of the year. Christopher Biffle 168 the boy’s life and have some time together when the two of them weren’t struggling with opposite agendas.copyright 2007. After their first lunch together. is very old now. Mrs. So does John. Other students wanted to have lunch with Mrs. incidentally. She counts her lunches with John among the most rewarding experiences in her life. . Maestra bought pizzas for the class. Occasionally. She only brought the Top Secret Bag into school a few times. she occasionally drew John aside for another lunch.

Chris Biffle CBiffle@AOL.copyright 2007.com I look forward to hearing from you! . send an email to me. Christopher Biffle a 169 Afterword If you’d like to schedule a Power Teaching seminar at your school or be put on the Power Teaching e-mail list to receive free announcements of our seminars and materials from The Power Teacher Publishing Company.