The most seductive part of Tools for Teaching is Responsibility
Training, and the most seductive part of Responsibility
Training is the use of the stopwatch. It is quick. It
is powerful. It is easy. What more could an exasperated
teacher want? Compared to clicking a stopwatch, the rest
of Tools for Teaching is relatively difficult.
For example, Classroom Structure requires extensive preplanning
and seemingly endless training and retraining of the class.
It, more than any other part of the program, requires
an unwavering commitment to proactive management. “Pay
me now, or pay me later” represents a way of life.
Similarly, Limit-Setting integrates many complex social
skills with the constant need to relax and keep quiet
in spite of the urgings of our fight-flight reflex.
Like all learned skills, the procedures of Classroom
Structure and Limit-Setting are subject to that most brutal
law of learning: “The only predictable outcome of
learning is forgetting.” The first skill to go is
always breathing, and with that goes our timing and our
emotional composure. With a loss of composure teachers
drift toward reactive management and nagging. Without
ongoing feedback and retraining, the long-term fate of
any staff development program is sealed for all but the
The overuse of time loss in Responsibility Training,
therefore, becomes our “early warning system”
for skill deterioration in Tools for Teaching. All management
jobs that are not done preventatively in Classroom Structure
are pushed down to Limit-Setting where they become “enforcement.”
Similarly, all management jobs that are not done in Limit-Setting
are pushed down to Responsibility Training where they
too become “enforcement.” When Responsibility
Training is asked to bear too much of the burden of management,
it is transformed from an enjoyable tool for building
cooperation to a form of nagging with a time penalty added.
Its disposition switches from sweet to sour, and it becomes
resented by the students. Hence, our saying, “Never
use time to manage a behavior that you can manage with
Tools for Teaching is neither a quick fix nor a set
of handy hints that can be quickly internalized. Rather,
it is a thorough restructuring of classroom management
from the ground up. The good news is that it can be done
with a reasonable amount of training and follow-through.
The bad news is that it cannot be done without a well
developed follow-through program. The ultimate success
of Tools for Teaching, therefore, will always be a function
of the quality of the follow-through effort at the school