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The Tools for Teaching Blog

January 10, 2017

The Opposite of What You Expect

In our previous four segments we have examined “Meaning Business” – calmness,  keeping your mouth shut when dealing with backtalk, and the power of your response. These skills will serve you well not only in the classroom but throughout your life whenever you are in a position of leadership.

However, no set of skills comes with a guarantee. Certain individuals in...

December 16, 2016

Upping the Ante

In our previous segment we became familiar with the various types of “whiny backtalk.” Familiarity reduces the element of surprise in backtalk and helps us remain calm.

But staying calm in the face of whiny backtalk is a piece of cake compared to staying calm in the face of nasty backtalk. If we can think of discipline management as a poker game in which the student raises the dealer...

November 10, 2016

Eliminating the Element of Surprise

In our previous segment we learned the Cardinal Error of dealing with backtalk. The Cardinal Error of dealing with backtalk is backtalk – your backtalk. Becoming involved with backtalk only makes the problem worse – which produces our first rule of backtalk:

It takes one fool to backtalk.

It takes two fools to make a conversation out of it.

In this segment we will l...

October 10, 2016

Upset Is Weakness

In our previous segment we learned that calm is strength and upset is weakness. To put this statement into perspective, ask yourself the following two questions:

  • If you are calm, who is in control of your mind and body?

  • If you are upset, who is in control of your mind and body?

Management of discipline problems in the classroom is first and foremost emotional. You will n...

September 15, 2016

The Importance of Consistency

Meaning business is the low-key, almost invisible way in which effective parents and effective teachers establish and enforce rules. In our previous segment we began our discussion of “meaning business” by examining consistency. In this context, we learned the “rule of rules”:

Never make a rule that you are not willing

to enforce every time.

When we are consistent, we tra...

August 15, 2016

Packaging a Lesson

As we begin a new school year, it would be helpful to review the basics of teaching a lesson. Much of that teaching has to do with packaging.

There are only two basic ways to package a lesson. You are familiar with both of them.

The first one looks like this:

Input, Input, Input, InputOutput

This is the model we all grew up with. It characterized my junior high, my high school, an...

July 8, 2016

Types of Rules

Different kinds of rules serve different functions. In the classroom, there are two basic types of rules.

  • General Rules: General rules spell out the teacher’s overall expectations for good work and good behavior within the classroom.

  • Specific Procedures: Specific procedures spell out exactly “how to do this” and exactly “how to do that” in the classroom.

General Rules


June 30, 2016

Being Consistent

In last month's blog we examined consistency. We pointed out that there is no such thing as “very consistent.” Consistency is all or nothing. You are either consistent, or you are inconsistent.

Being consistent lays the foundation for “meaning business.” If your mindset is “wishy-washy,” you haven’t a chance.

We also learned in the previous segment that consistency is tied to our cla...

May 10, 2016

“No Means No”

How do you say “no” and make it stick? We would do well to take a lesson from my mom.


My mom meant business. She had been an elementary teacher for many years, and a very good one, no doubt. But I could be as willful as any other little kid and could wheedle with the best of them. My mom referred to any such arguing or wheedling as “yammering.”


Early in life, I learned two iron-clad r...

Focus on Process

It's spring, and that means schools and school districts are planning their professional development trainings for next year. It is easy to schedule a workshop and hire a presenter. It is far more difficult to have that workshop serve as a vital part of a long-term process of professional development. 


Long-term success depends on decisions made by administrators before t...

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Featured Posts

Things Change Quickly

May 1, 2020

Staying Sharp While at Home
We've all had to make some serious adjustments lately, but when it comes to school, "The show must go on." Many of you are...

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