Indiana University Bloomington
The Equity Project
Center on Education and Lifelong Learning (CELL)
Recent News
Watch for PBIS Awareness Sessions in February to be announced.

Wednesday Wisdom

May 27: "A Circle to End the Year"

As the school year (and Wednesday Wisdom) comes to a close for the year, consider students' need for reflection and closure. Peace-building or community-building circles offer a wonderful way to reflect on the school year, and hear from students in a structured way. It can also support your own reflection on your successes with students. Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility is an organization based in New York, committed to supporting middle and high schools in the use of Circles as a restorative practice to build mutual understanding, community, and resolve conflicts. A wonderful lesson plan is attached as a resource for you. Consider also planning the start of the school year next fall in a similar way. Be sure to practice the procedures as well as discuss the proper time and place to be excused. (*See the link below)

From all of us at PBIS Indiana, we wish you a safe and very happy summer break!

Link: A wonderful lesson plan for you!

May 13: "Silent Signals"

Tired of being interrupted to address student needs? Create a system of silent hand signals that don't disrupt the class. Create a visual for students, both as reference and a reminder (*See attached photo). Be sure to practice the procedures as well as discuss the proper time and place to be excused.

Here's a start:
1 = Pencil
2 = Tissue
3 = Bathroom

May 6: "One-minute papers"

Use this strategy to receive feedback on your teaching, as well as to support students in reflecting, integrating and processing course material.

  1. Give students an open-ended question and one to three minutes to write their answers.
  2. Good questions: a) What is the most important thing we discussed today? b) What was the most confusing idea presented today?

April 29: "Student-Centered Classroom Setup"

Consider the message your classroom set-up sends to your students: is it one that values collaboration, student diversity and voice? Perhaps it's time for a Spring classroom re-structuring! While specifics will vary among teachers and classrooms, common elements of a student-centered classroom include the following:

  • Classroom milieu: Multicultural images on the walls that represent the cultures of the students in your classes not only shows respect and showcases diversity, but models for students all they can achieve
  • Arrangement of furniture and supplies: Arrangement should support collaboration, foster dialogue, encourage ownership and maximize comfort
  • Student roles and responsibilities: Structure classrooms in ways to maximize student voice, participation and leadership
  • Classroom norms: Involve students in the process of re-visiting classroom norms. Remember to take into account and honor the various cultural and communication differences and styles, and discuss school vs. community/home appropriate behaviors without devaluing behaviors that may work well in other contexts outside of the classroom

Adapted from: Teaching Tolerance: "Classroom Culture"

April 15: "Positive Postcards"

It only takes a few minutes to prepare an email or note home that briefly describes positive behavior or an achievement that you have recently observed. Be sure to share it with the student before sending it home. Classroom management guru, Dr. Allen Mendler suggests a solution in cases where you haven't seen positive behavior that you can genuinely acknowledge: Write a positive note or email as if a behavior you are seeking has already happened. Show it to the student. Ask him or her to tell you when it would be a good time to send it.

April 8: "Mantra" for Classroom Management

For the best results, remember Marvin Marshall's classroom management 'mantra': Will what I am about to do or say bring me closer or will it push me away farther from the person with whom I am communicating?

April 1: "Framing Success"

Classroom Management guru Larry Ferlazzo suggests the use of "positive framed messages" to support students' positive behavior choices. "Loss framed messages" such as, "If you do this _______, then something bad will happen to you." don't have the persuasive advantage that they're often thought to have. These statements come across as threats and focus on what teachers want students to do. Instead, talk with students about how changing their behavior will help them achieve their own short and/or long-term goals.

March 25: "Help to Prevent Misbehavior in the Classroom"

Review these tips from Dr. John Bailie of the International Institute for Restorative Practices to prevent issues from arising in the classroom. The foundation, Dr. Bailie says, is to actively encourage a personal relationship with students and do what you can to foster a collaborative learning environment. Additionally, here is his advice:
  • Use affective (emotionally rich) language when praising or confronting students
  • Use collaborative practices
  • Focus on repairing relationships rather than impersonal punishments and sanctions
  • Spend 80% of "discipline" on proactive relationship building

  • Use impersonal punishments
  • Avoid face-to-face engagement
  • Discipline for other staff
  • Stop believing that children can learn and change their behavior

March 18: "Take Time to Reflect"

Whether you need motivation to implement differentiated instruction in the classroom or simply need reassurance that it's working, you'll find inspiration in these words of wisdom from Carol Tomlinson:

  • Every child is entitled to the promise of a teacher's optimism, enthusiasm, time, and energy.
  • Educators should be champions of every student who enters the schoolhouse doors.
  • Teachers in the most exciting and effective differentiated classrooms don't have all the answers. What they do have is optimism and determination.
  • It is a human birthright to be a learner. There is little we do that is more important.
  • Like students, teachers grow best when they are moderately challenged. Waiting until conditions are ideal or until you are sure of yourself yields lethargy, not growth.
  • Teachers change either because they see the light or because they feel the heat.
  • A great coach never achieves greatness for himself or his team by working to make all his players alike.
  • Becoming an expert at differentiation is a career-long goal. One step at a time, you will get there.
  • Don't feel compelled to grade everything. There's a time for students to figure things out and a time for judging whether they did, but the two shouldn't always be the same.
  • If curriculum and instruction are the heart and limbs of sound teaching, then classroom management is the central nervous system. Without the heart, there is no life, but without the nervous system, there is no function.

March 11: "Be Explicit In Your Desire To Support Students"

Be Open To Student Feedback. In a confident manner, invite and value your students' perceptions and be open to hear what students think they need in order to succeed. Ask questions like the following:

  • What can I do to be a better teacher for you?
  • How can I help you be successful?
  • Two things I say or do that you think I should continue doing are________________.
  • Two things I say or do that you wish I would do less of are______________________.

  • Adapted From: Motivating Students Who Don't Care, Allen N. Mendler, 2000.

March 4: Notice! Notice! Notice!

Take note of the things your students are doing that meet your expectations, and let them know that you notice by narrating what you see. Remember the goal is at least a 4:1 positive to negative feedback ratio.
Calling attention to on-task student behavior in a non-negative way enables you to restate and in turn, reinforce the expectations for student behavior. It is easier for expectations to be met when you are clear about what they are. Frequent acknowledgement and praise lets students know you are paying attention, and very aware of what's happening in the classroom. When they see and hear that you know what's going on, they learn that you mean business and that even their smallest actions matter

February 25: Agreement Circles to Support Learning

Students form a circle. The teacher makes a statement in relation to the content. Students who agree with the statement step into the circle and fact the outside, while students who disagree remain on the outside of the circle, facing in. Both sides are asked to support their opinions. Take time to review expectations for respectful debates and discuss appropriate ways to disagree.

February 18: Stay In Control Through Student Engagement

Consider implementing a "flipped classroom" and shift the dynamic of the room away from the goal of keeping students quiet to directly involving students in their own learning by engaging them in the process. Instead of direct instruction, where students are expected to sit and listen, allow students to interact with one another and spend your time challenging them as individuals and groups. With some rules and structure in place, fewer management issues overall will arise as students take charge of their own learning, and work to solve problems that arise.

Adapted from: Classroom Management And Flipped Class with Jon Bergmann

February 11: Modeling is Powerful!

Model the behavior that you expect.

The most powerful teacher is example. Model the behaviors you want to see children emulate. Yelling and shouting when you are upset with children's behavior teaches children to yell and shout when they are upset with someone else's behavior, including yours. Speaking disrespectfully to students teaches them to speak disrespectfully-frequently providing actual words they can use later. If adults expect students to engage in active listening while peers are presenting information, adults should model active listening at this time, and on and on.

February 4: Emotions Are Contagious!

Emotions are contagious. Our response to rule violations needs to come from our inner authority, promoting a sense of calm, harmony, and confidence. In the end, the only thing you can control is your own reaction. Reacting in a self-controlled manner can work effectively to manage the way students respond when conflicts occurs. Instead of asking, "WHY did you do that?", which often comes out with sarcasm and judgment, consider asking, "What happened?" for a more open perspective and less biased approach.

January 28: The Art and Skill of Listening - TEACH IT!

Teaching students concrete steps to focus on and improve listening places emphasis not only on how to develop the skill, but why it is so important. Try teaching the H.E.A.R. strategy:

  • Halt: Stop whatever else you are doing, end your internal dialogue on other thoughts, and free your mind to pay attention to the person speaking.
  • Engage: Focus on the speaker. We suggest a physical component, such as turning your head slightly so that your right ear is toward the speaker as a reminder to be engaged solely in listening.
  • Anticipate: By looking forward to what the speaker has to say, you are acknowledging that you will likely learn something new and interesting, which will enhance your attention.
  • Replay: Think about what the speaker is saying. Analyze and paraphrase it in your mind or in discussion with the speaker and other classmates. Replaying the information will aid in understanding and remembering what you have learned.

  • Source: Training the Brain to Listen - Donna Wilson

January 21: "Take 10!"

Consider having a designated table in the room as a stopping place in lieu of removal from the classroom. A change in scenery can work to motivate students to get back on track and get students' attention, particularly if there is encouragement and support to re-join the class as soon as possible. Set a silent timer for the student to monitor while the class continues. When the time is up, enable the student to return to their seat and try it again. Have directions and a log book for students to sign-in at the table, so you can keep track of visits and follow-up with individuals at a later time. Be sure to post your expectations while at the table, and consider including things like scrap paper, clay, a suggestion box, and/or a "worry" box to share thoughts or concerns (in or out of the classroom) for students who visit.

January 14: Addressing Student Needs - "Pin Ups"

We all need to feel validated and often lose sight of our strengths and talents because of the brain's tendency to focus on the negative. Help build a positive climate ruled by safety and security (physical and emotional) through the use of "pin ups". Here is how it works: Assign various students to physically post each day a compliment to classmates on a goal or, an affirmation. These pin-ups help us focus on positive experiences and behaviors (recognizing contributions and successes), instead of faults and mistakes.

Adapted from: Addressing our Needs - Maslow Hierarchy

January 7: "3-2-1 Understanding"

"Teacher assigns meaning to each of the 3 numbers so that students can use them for quick response to teacher question, i.e:

  • 3 = "I totally Understand"
  • 2 = "I need more explanation"
  • 1 = "I'm totally confused"
The number can be placed on index cards, students can hold up the appropriate number of fingers, or students can write the number on their personal white board to hold up upon prompt.

December 31: "Teach (and re-teach) Classroom Procedures"

Procedures contribute to predictability and student success. They also promote student responsibility, and since they are not dependent upon teacher involvement, once procedures are taught, practiced, reinforced and become routine, the teacher is freed to attend to other things. Criteria for good procedures:

  • Positively stated
  • Sequential
  • Observable/concrete
  • Simple and age appropriate
  • 5-6 steps

December 24: "Working the Crowd - The Inner Loop"

"Either you work the crowd or the crowd works you," so says Fred Jones. Use the proximity of your body as an instrument of management. Move! The best room arrangement allows the teacher to get from any student to any other student in the fewest possible steps. Create walkways by making an interior loop. Bring students forward and pack them sideways.

December 17: "Step-by-step: Set realistic goals"

Instead of an "all-or-nothing" approach, help students set realistic goals around changing disruptive behavior. Try giving them four post-it notes on their desk, with the goal of leaving at least one at the end of the class. Decide on a private hand-signal, and have the student remove one each time they respond out of turn. Monitoring their own progress will support students understanding of the upcoming consequence, and provide the encouragement to keep trying. The more practice students get the more likely they are to succeed. Help them feel like you are their cheerleader, instead of trying to catch them in the act of misbehavior.

December 10: "Build Rapport and Gain Control"

Control comes for teachers through building rapport and community. For struggling students, try employing a 2x2 rule. For 2 weeks, spend 2 minutes a day engaging that student in conversation about their strengths, interests, hobbies, or life. See how the relationship changes with that student, and in turn, their attitude and behavior towards class.

December 3: "Snowball Fight!" Community-builders Keep Students Engaged

To help students learn to care about each other as individuals, try using more quick & easy class-builder activities. For a Snowball Fight give everyone a white sheet of paper. Their name is written in the middle of the paper and the sheet is divided into three sections. In section 1 have them write one thing they are excited about, in section 2 one thing they are nervous about, and finally in section 3 one thing they would like to learn. (They can draw a picture if they aren't able to write yet.) Wad up the paper and have half the class throw their snowballs. The other half of the class picks up a snowball and reads the information. Next, they have to find whom it belongs to. This allows for a greeting and further discussion of the information.

November 26: Engage all Learners - Make it impossible for students to "hide"

  • After posing a question, have students stand by the sign in the room that reflects their answer to the question: agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, disagree.
  • Ask a question and then ask for everyone to give a thumbs up or thumbs down to respond.
Post excerpts or quotes around the room. Ask students to read them all, then write down one they agreed with & discuss with the class

November 19: "Involve Students in Keeping Expectations High"

Use visuals to reinforce key classroom procedures. Take pictures of your students demonstrating success when you practice. Simply point to the picture and ask students to correct their behavior to match the picture. Music can also be used to keep students focused, create a positive classroom environment, and support with management. Choose a song to play to support timely transitions. Instruct students to complete the task at hand or transition before the end of the song. Acknowledge or reward those that demonstrate they are ready to move on. Draw the name of a student who has met the goal and play their favorite song next week!

November 12: "Eliminate Humiliation and Sarcasm"

Never use sarcasm, attack a student's character, humiliate, embarrass, belittle, or verbally abuse a student.

Some people believe these are good steps to change a child's behavior. While these strategies may seem to be effective in the short term, they build resentment and anger in children and teach them that these are techniques that they should use when trying to get someone to do something. In the long run, these techniques are PROVEN to make problem behavior worse.

November 5: "Cooperation and Focus"

To ensure cooperation and focus, structure your class period in a way that students know what to do as soon as they walk in the door. By having a consistent structure in place, students will feel comfortable in the routine of the classroom.

October 29: "Effective Praise"

Be specific with praise.

When commenting on a child's expected behavior, point out exactly what the child has done (or is doing) that is appropriate. Avoid general terms, such a "You are so good", or "You are so mature." Say instead, "Staying quiet means we don't disturb others, that's good for our community." "Keeping your shoes tied makes you safe, and helps others be safe too." "Cleaning up your table area shows responsibility and care for our school, thank you." "Solving conflicts with words shows respect. A respectful school is better for learning, so way to go."

October 22: "Stay Calm"

Emotional objectivity or emotional neutrality.

Whenever we respond to misbehavior, whether redirecting, re-teaching, pointing out alternatives, helping a child to understand how the behavior affects others, or responding with a pre-determined consequence, we must remain calm and business-like. Calm is strength. Try to remain emotionally neutral.

October 15: "Attention is Prevention"

Provide lots of attention before problem behavior occurs.

When you suspect that a child violates expectations in an effort to gain attention, offer that attention before problem behavior occurs. We all need attention and attention seeking itself is not abnormal. Some children do not get enough attention and because they are not outstanding (in a positive manner); they learn very quickly that they can be outstanding in a negative manner. For these children it is often appropriate and necessary to provide non-contingent attention - attention that does not depend on them doing anything.

October 8: "Keep it Positive"

'No more phone calls about bad behavior' from 25 Classroom Management Tips for Teachers - Marygrove College

A tip from educator, Larry Ferlazzo: Instead of calling the parents of a student who was not behaving well, tell disruptive students that you will not be calling their parents - at least not that day. Instead, let them know that the phone call will wait until the following week so that you can report all the good things they’ve done and how they’ve improved in the last week.

October 1: "Set Clear Expectations"

Behavior should be viewed as specific and measurable. When setting expectations, choose rules that meet the following criteria:

  • Can be enforced consistently
  • Are rules you are comfortable with enforcing
  • Are specific enough to be clearly understood
  • Can be seen when demonstrated
Remember, while classroom rules and procedures may look different from classroom to classroom, they should all align with school wide expectations and coordinate with school and district policies.

September 24: "Pre-corrections are Powerful"

Remind and Pre-Correct. It really does make a difference if you remind kids of expectations immediately BEFORE they are expected to carry them out. Use positive language, that is, tell them exactly WHAT TO DO rather than what not to do. In pre-correction-you are targeting the specific steps that they need to do that have been specifically problematic-not the whole list of things-and providing instruction, rehearsal, and checks for understanding right before the problematic context. Focus. And by all means, be brief, kids tune us out when we talk too much and we all have a tendency to use too many words.

September 17: "Share Power to Gain Control"

Use classroom meetings for students to express their own values and contribute to the dialogue around how they feel their classroom should run. Have students write down three ways he/she wants to treat others this year, using the prompt, “I want to ______ and I don’t want to _____.” Ask each student to share one of their ideas in a classroom meeting. Discuss how it will help all learners to come to a class where they are treated in these ways. Create a list of norms that represent the students’ ideas for them to review and sign. Be sure to state the norms positively.

September 10: "Invest in Relationships"

Within the first two weeks of school make introductory phone calls to all of your students. Say one positive thing you have noticed about each student. Ask the parents/guardians if they have any questions.

If you have more than 30 students, pick out the ones that you instinctually know will be challenging and make a positive call to their house.