The Power Of Praise

My mentor walked into my classroom in the middle of the school year and asked, “What happened?” She was referring to the classroom climate that had clearly eroded. I was frustrated and angry about student behavior. She pointed out that my class was not the upbeat, positive place she witnessed in September.

Inclusive by Design: Community Building Activities for a New School Year

Hands Together in Circle

Making students feel included and building community requires an unwavering commitment throughout the year. This blog post includes activities that promote a sense of belonging, and an emphasis on community building. The following are strategies and activities you can use to set the tone of respect and inclusion in your classroom this year Setting Class […]

10 Mistakes You Are Making With Behavior Reflections

Illustration of slipping on a banana peel

A positive classroom climate is essential for any learning environment. Students need to feel safe, connected, and respected in order to succeed academically and socially. Teacher to student and student to student relationships are essential. Predictable routines, clear expectations, student engagement, and high interest lessons are also fundamental to an effective learning space. What, however, […]

CHECKMATE: Teaching Students to Resolve Conflict One Move at a Time


Teachers I meet say that classroom management is one of their greatest concerns. So, what is an effective way to manage conflict between students in a classroom? I found that teaching students simple, consistent strategies – like the moves you would use in a game of chess – works best. Each morning, my class began […]

Play Chess, Improve Your Classroom Climate

Playing chess

When I was 10, my dad asked me if I wanted to learn how to play chess. I asked, “Is it as easy as playing checkers?”  “No,” he said. “No thank you”, I replied. Many years later, I realized that I made a terrible mistake. A friend of mine had taught me how to play, and […]

Teachers Need More Than Quick Fix Mandates

Blended Learning

Classrooms are complex ecosystems which are immune to quick fix mandates. The narrow, yet very important focus of increasing student achievement must be expanded to include the conditions that affect the way in which classrooms operate. Critical to the success of schooling in urban settings is the emphasis on increasing the retention of teachers and […]