Responding to Defiance in the Moment

Children who defy us often get to the core of our fears as teachers. They make us question our abilities and provoke feelings of insignificance. But when we rise above our own feelings and find developmentally appropriate ways to respond to these students, we offer them a path to success and a model of how to get along in the world.
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Public Discipline Systems

Public discipline systems—like Class Dojo, stoplights, moving clothespins along a colored card, writing names on the board—can certainly be appealing. Some days can feel as if they’re spent just disciplining, and public…
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Teaching Without Using Rewards

Children build on their strengths, and to do that building—to grow academically and socially—they need us to recognize and encourage their positive efforts. But what’s the best way to offer that recognition…
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When Students Need More: Taking the Long View

A reality of teaching that all teachers know well is that no matter how effectively we teach, no matter how hard students try, and no matter how many good days the class…
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When Children Are Defiant

I once taught a second grader who sometimes subtly refused to go along with what we were doing. For instance, if we had to leave the classroom and John didn't want to…
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A Lesson Learned About Prizes

During my years of teaching, I have used individual written agreements coupled with a simple token system to give children with particularly challenging behavior the extra support they need to improve. Recently,…
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How Reading About Sammy Healed Me

A few years ago, I had a student who broke me. During our very first Morning Meeting, as my brand new class met each other, he slapped another first grader. Hard. As…
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Close the Gateway to Bullying

An adapted excerpt from Chapter One of the award-winning book, How to Bullyproof Your Classroom
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What to Do About Tattling

"Jaime isn’t lining up in the right place." "Grayson said a bad word." "Olivia hit me!"I know from teaching young children myself how challenging it can be to face a seemingly endless…
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Time-Out: Avoiding the Punishment Trap

May 2002Question:I have a dilemma about time-out. I tell my students that time-out is not a punishment, but I know it can feel like punishment when I send them to time-out for…
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Rules Talk

After a busy morning, Mr. Hulsey’s third graders are ready for lunch, squirming as they stand in line at their classroom door. Mr. Hulsey raises his hand, the agreed-upon class signal for…
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Genuine Apologies

Learning to give and receive apologies is a complex social skill. As a school counselor, I am often asked to give advice about having children apologize in school. Are there times when…
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Coaching Children in Handling Everyday Conflicts

"Teacher, he won't play with me." "Teacher, she cut in line." "Teacher, he took my book."Such classroom conflicts are familiar in elementary school life. For years, resolving such conflicts for children filled…
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Beyond Coping

When Corey joined my fourth grade class, he already had a history of school struggles and had spent part of third grade in a self-contained room for children with behavior problems. When…
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Teacher-Child Problem-Solving Conferences

Derek was a fifth grader who was avoiding writing. Whenever we had writing time, he would ask to go to the bathroom, and there he would linger. After observing this for a…
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Building Empathy for a “Trouble-Maker”

Chris was a student who struggled socially. He was in Sarah Fiarman’s mixed-grade class for two years, first as a fifth grader and then as a sixth. Of all the points working…
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Refusing to Go to Time-Out

April 2002Question:I’ve had pretty good success using time-out with most children. I have children go to time-out to regain their self-control as they start to lose it. But what about the child…
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