Stay Calm and Keep Connecting!

This Monday my elementary school will see ALL our students coming back AT THE SAME TIME. It feels like the 3rd start to the 20-21 school year, and quite tentative at that, with the threat of shutting down if Covid numbers reverse their downward trend here in our...

Rethinking Labels and Grades

As a Special Education educator, I have struggled my entire career with the various labels that are assigned to students in our schools.  When students are viewed through the lens of their particular label, whether it be dyslexic or autistic, learning disabled or...

Our students need to struggle

  Jo Boaler recently wrote an article that began with the following paragraph: “As parents and teachers, we do just about everything we can to make sure that children don’t struggle. It turns out we are making a terrible mistake. Research shows that struggling is...

How do we ask?

There are two common ways that teachers make requests when teaching. One is called a start-up request and the other is called a shutdown request. For example,   “We need quiet hands please,”  is a start-up request. The instructor is asking for a new behavior.    “Stop...

Behavior Chart Drama

I recently viewed a funny clip from the Ellen Show featuring a very articulate kindergartner who took great delight in explaining his classroom’s color behavior chart to Ellen. It was quite complicated and Ellen was struggling to understand it. Earlier this week I ran...

Teaching Behavioral Expectations

In my last post, I stated that children misbehave in school because they lack the skills to be successful.  I realize this doesn’t include all misbehavior, because every student has his own set of life circumstances that he/she brings to school, but I do contend that...

Why do children misbehave at school?

Last week I read a news article about a bill, SB419, that recently passed in California prohibiting schools from suspending students through eighth grade from school solely for the reason of “willful defiance”.  I looked up the legal definition for this term and found...

Do this every.single.day.

Many school districts around the country are already up and running for the 19-20 school year, but in Minnesota, where the bulk of my teaching career was spent, Labor Day and the State Fair mark the end of the summer and the beginning of the school year. The fair...

Encouraging Students to Achieve

Remember when self-esteem was all the rage and we were told that improving it would be the answer to everything wrong with our children? Competitions were frowned upon and everyone got trophies; criticism was replaced with ubiquitous praise, even undeserved praise....

When praise backfires

There has been much research published regarding the negative effects of praising a child’s intellect. However, go into most schools and homes and listen to the way teachers and parents interact with children. “You’re so smart!” “I think you must be a genius!”  etc....