Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tear Down the Ladder of Consequences: How to Become a Master of Classroom Management

This is the latest from my teaching advice video series "Dear Mr. DeRosa". I love the randomly selected still picture (thanks, YouTube!).  It says, "I can chop you right in half!"

Check out or subscribe to my new YouTube channel to see the rest of the series and future videos as well!


Grandmama Sarah said...

My "ladder" stays only because it's required by administration.

It's a joke to say:
1. warning
2. parent call (no phone, no answer, track down someone to translate, leave a message. . . .no parent effect even when contacted. . . )
3. teacher detention (ha, ha. . . they don't come: reschedule; add another day. . . .)
4. referral (when out of my math class is what some students want.)

I'm looking forward to reading your book recommendations which I will also pass to my daughter who is in her first year teaching in the public schools. (My second year.)

Thanks for your advice and plain speaking.

The Digital Narrative said...

Great post :-)

Enjoy your holidays!

Martin J

Mr. D said...

Sarah: The worst part is that if you actually try to follow the ladder concept to the letter, you'll be looked upon by your administrators as a teacher who can't control their classroom. It is a joke, but I fear that this flawed theory is still being pushed around the country as correct practice. That's why we have to keep talking about it.

Grandmama Sarah said...

Mr. D,
I got all three books: Your 10 Lessons, Love and Logic, and Don't Swear with Your Mouthful in time to read them before school starts back up.

Offering options feels right to me. No problem.
Care about my kids. Yes, no problem there.
Understanding behavior-limited consequences. Got that, but not sure how to handle it on my campus.

I'm on my way. My dad used to say, "Do something, even if it's wrong." At least I can learn from my mistakes.

My daughter also picked up your 10 Lessons. She LOVES them. MiniPosters next week for her high schoolers.

This is my second year with the ladder. As you so rightly suspect: the letter of the ladder fell by the way a number of months ago. Rapport improved immediately!

Thanks again.

Mr. D said...

Sarah: Yes, the problem with reconciling your school's system with the ideas in the books is difficult, but let me give you an example I used that worked.

Very early in my career, I had a bright but very talkative and disruptive student that I had tried everything with. I'm talking about the gamut of standard teacher responses that a novice teacher would know. After I read TWL&L, I tried one of the ideas exactly as it was written. Let me share what I wrote in a journal I was keeping at the time:

"I actually tried this "time out" method with a student yesterday from the same homeroom class. He sat there most of the period with his notebook closed in front of him, alternately staring into the distance or putting his head down. While the other students were working quietly, I quietly told him he had a choice: either start working or I would have to ask him to leave. Sure enough the behavior continued, and a quietly asked him to put his stuff away and go next door. I told him he could come back tomorrow if he felt like he was ready to do his work. He was confused when he asked for his referral and I said I wasn't giving him one. He stayed next door for the rest of the period, and that was the end of it. I was curious as to how this experiment would turn out.

Today, he came to me right at the beginning of class and said "I'm ready to do my work today, sir." and he did. I was dumbfounded. I had never purposely done something so simple--something that previous to reading this book I would have dismissed as ineffective classroom management--with such amazing results. I don't know if it was something I had done, or whether he was bothered by something outside of class, but I had given him the time to cool off and he was the better for it. We'll see how it plays out in the long term."

While I can't claim to be an expert (or that I always remembered to follow the theory and methods in the books), it was pretty amazing.

Also, I asked Dr. Chugh, the author of Don't Swear With Your Mouthful, about the issue: Read it in the interview here.

Grandmama Sarah said...

Mr. D,
We four Math teachers have a standing agreement about "taking in" another's students in such a situation. As a team, we want to take care of those problems on our hall. I'm still too new at this to know how to handle it initially.

It's going to take some time to grasp, but I see immediately from your description what I'm going to go in prepared for tomorrow.

Both those books are going to require more than a first read-through, especially when I have to coordinate it with the campus system. But, it's not impossible.