Classroom Management Book Club Follow-Up

After teaching Doug Lemov’s 100% technique we (three of us do classroom observations at KAL) went into observations to try to track the success of the PD.  With our ears and eyes especially attuned to classroom management we turned up the following common struggles in getting 100% of the kids following directions:

  • Vague Directions-Compliance isn’t visible.
  • Lacks the teacher voice- Either not assertive or hostile instead of calm and authoritative
  • Nagging-Not phrasing directions as a positive
  • Tone and words don’t line up-Positive words with a dead tone.
  • Apologizing-This is so hard.  I am sorry for making you do this.  Lemov talks about this in his book as well.
  • Over praising-following directions isn’t cause for a celebration Acknowledgement of the challenges facing kids is not the same as apologizing for teaching them.  Apologizing sends a very low expectation message.  Acknowledging is a relationship builder.
  • Narrating the positive (feedback) is not the same as relentlessly praising. Victor is tracking or Kaylie started her do now are more effective than sugary, vague praise like “Great job Victor”
  • Under-noticed butterflies: speaking too softly as a teacher or allowing kids to speak softly.

As a result of these observations I attempted three types of follow-up:

1.  The most exciting new intervention I am trying is real time coaching with a few of the teachers I work with.  Several gurus (Lee Canter, Dave Levin) are proponents of this approach.  I sit in the back of the room and signal the teacher to attempt or refine certain management techniques (for instance: get louder, circulate, pause and wait for slanting) I have only had one session with one teacher but I see a lot of possibilities for helping teachers this way.

2.  Planned a follow-up classroom management session with more role plays.

3.  I also sent out the email below.  Clearly a whole staff email is an incredibly ineffective way to change behavior but the idea is one I will continue to get across.

In Atual Gawande’s latest book there’s a chapter about Michigan’s Keystone Initiative.  This project decreased central line infection rates by 66% in hospitals across the state, including chronically cash strapped Sinai Grace Hospital in inner city Detroit  As a result of the Keystone Initiative, the average Michigan ICU outperformed 90% of hospitals nationwide, saved $175 million, and more than 1500 lives.

The Keystone Initiative was not some elaborate program or new technology.  It was a simple five step checklist in every room.

  1. Wash hands with soap.
  2. Clean the patient’s skin with chlorhexidine antiseptic.
  3. Put sterile drapes over the patient.
  4. Wear a mask, gown, and gloves.
  5. Put sterile dressing over the insertion site.

What does this have to do with us?


Our work is every bit as complex as surgery.  We have way too much to remember and it’s easy to skip steps. In observations since Friday I have seen how hard it is, particularly when we are tired, to use the techniques we talked about.  In particular it’s easy to skip the positive group correction (telling kids exactly what to do) and in our tiredness focus on what they shouldn’t be doing.  The problem is that describing what you shouldn’t be doing (“I don’t want any talking. No pencil tapping.”) is often an invitation to kids to start.  In order to help I printed some checklists to hang in your room.  I will drop one off in every room. It’s not a requirement to post, but I’d love to know if it helps.


One Response to “Classroom Management Book Club Follow-Up”

  1. jsmith6 Says:

    Would you mind sharing what the checklists look like?

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