Guest Post via @thecortlandj: Turning Students into Classroom Allies

Do you plan for student misconduct as you plan your lessons for instruction?

After 26 years of teaching, with half of those years spent facilitating classroom management workshops, I have learned the value of anticipating and planning for the worst while hoping for student cooperation in the classroom during instruction.

‘Classroom management some days can feel much more like herding cats.’– Anonymous

During one such Cooperative Discipline workshop, I recall the pushback of the participants to the concepts being shared. I sensed the all-too-familiar concern that the content of what we were delivering sounded good in theory but how practical was it in relation to the student population they served. As my co-facilitator reassured our colleagues of the value of what was being presented I balled up a sheet of paper and then gently unfolded it trying my best to smooth out the crumpled paper. Redirecting everyone’s attention to the unsightly wrinkled sheet of paper in my hand I reminded everyone of our desire to have all our students be like a clean sheet of paper. The reality is some of our students, by their behavior, act more like ‘crumpled paper.’

We must learn to see them as a clean sheet of paper despite the wrinkles, if our desire is to influence them into becoming our classroom allies.

To do this effectively I must move away from what I seek to do to the child (punish) and consider how to work with them (consequence) that helps us both work towards getting along in the classroom.

Since returning to the classroom in 2010 after being outside the classroom for 10 years, I became more self-reflective about redirecting challenging students displaying oppositional behavior. This allowed me to recognize that feeling of ‘dread’ associated with particular students or classes I found to be less desirable to work with. Over time my initiative to plan for misconduct as I plan instruction has helped me the past 3 years to enjoy working with those students and classes I would dread seeing enter my classroom. Consider the following moving forward to help you in turning student adversaries into classroom allies:

  • Resist delay in intervening when you feel dread (it causes frustration to fester)
  • Decide to act in addressing misconduct
  • Determine best / most effective strategy that will influence cooperation (this may require parent phone call)
  • Do consistently what motivates students to take ownership of their behavior to self-manage and be less disruptive
    • Which of these 3 do you do most and which could you do more of?
      • Correction- what I do when students misbehave
      • Encouragement- what I do to influence cooperation from students
      • Incentive- what I do to keep cooperative students cooperating

More information related to this article can be found on my blog post Turning Adversaries into Allies and you can visit to read more posts providing insights, information, and inspiration about classroom management.

My book Apples of Grace: 31 Days of Inspiration for the Educator is scheduled to be released by November 2018. Email me at to reserve your copy $10.00 and the ebook will be sold for $4.99. I also offer coaching for educators interested in becoming more effective in their classroom management of student misconduct. Let’s connect!










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