Category Archives: Classroom Management

A Reflective Questionnaire for Practitioners of Education

So you have decided to … May I suggest that you write a paragraph (or more) to address each of the questions that are … Reflect upon your statements; revise them when deemed appropriate!  May you be inspired to take action … to inspire your peers … to enhance the context of your professional practice.


How much time per week do you spend on planning to initiate learning experiences?

Would you describe your classroom supplies as being adequate/inadequate? Why?

What are some of the most pressing concerns you have regarding the problems that are occurring in your school/district?

What suggestions might you convey to improve instructional mechanisms in your school/district?

How often do you discuss problems that are occurring in your classroom/school (with peers)?

Have you participated in planning or initiating any (action-oriented) research/studies during the past 5 years?

What is the nature of your philosophical views about teaching and learning?

What instructional methods are most frequently employed in your classroom/school?

Identify (at least) two professional goals that you want to realize!

Remember, the more you write about something; the more proficient you will become.  As you reflect upon your perception/reality; perhaps the sparks required to stimulate professional development and innovative processes will be perpetuated!

Best Wishes; My works (i.e. Professional Development Resources) are published via  I encourage you to sample/purchase: “Becoming A Reflective Practitioner” & “The Dichotomy of Instructional Design” @

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Developing (Dynamic) Instructional Programs

As Frymier (2001) has indicated:

Thirty different textbooks would be more appropriate than 30 copies of the same book. Three Thousand articles on geography … would be … [more enriching] than one geography textbook….  Big pieces of material … [with] numbered pages, tend to force teachers and students to accept a given sequence of limited amounts of information….  If curriculum materials are small in size, … superb in quality and great in number, teachers and students have an opportunity to create various patterns of sequence and use of materials.  Such variety increases the likelihood of meeting … [the needs of all students]. (p.62)

Original source material: Frymier, J. (2001). After thirty years of thinking about curriculum. Theory Into Practice, 25(1), 58-63.

The complexity of coursework (i.e. curriculum) and the type of learning that is expected are primary determinants of precisely how “dynamic” your curriculum may become. In cases when a technical objective (i.e. competency requirement) is identified as the intended outcome; your ability to formulate a dynamic strategy (as described by Frymier) is restricted by the structural mechanism (i.e. lesson plan) that you establish. Therefore, we must recognize that “non-technical” curriculums (which ought to be aligned with student-centered outcomes) are most conducive to employing “dynamic mechanisms” and facilitating “applied” learning.

The cognitive nature of applied learning is described by Bottoms, Presson and Johnson (1992) as follows:

Applied learning is actively student-oriented, characterized by lively … discussions, absorbing group projects, meaningful homework assignments, laboratory experiments, live and video … presentations, and other hands-on activities. The purpose of applied learning is to create an environment that actively engages students and teachers in a collaborative learning process. (p.50)

Original source material: Bottoms, Presson & Johnson (1992). Making high schools work. Georgia, Southern Regional Education Board.

Want to learn more about initiating dynamic instructional programs/curriculum? Sample/Purchase “The Dichotomy of Instructional Design” @

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Practitioners Must Be Prepared To Fight — (for Public Schools)!

In defending public education “against corporate take over initiatives” — We must establish Democratic Organizations in our schools/districts. The power to make decisions (about all aspects of schooling) ought to mirror the democratic frameworks we have established to maintain our freedoms and perpetuate Democracy in government. So! How do we go about moving toward this goal (i.e. independence)? Educators must conduct (site-based) action research, learn to apply theoretical constructs in their classrooms/schools, and keep their philosophy of education relevant. Practitioners must also continue to improve their instructional techniques (i.e. craft).

I am in agreement with “most of the comments” posted on various Blogs about the “motives of corporate entities”! However, I believe that in many ways EDUCATORS have taken the “poor me” position. May I encourage all practitioners to “fight” for their freedom (against mandates), and for the PUBLIC SCHOOLS that have blessed our nation (with strong independent thinkers) for decades.

Has anyone considered the significance of preparing (to fight)? I spent more than TEN years developing the means (i.e. mechanisms) required to “prepare” practitioners. However, I cannot force them to “prepare” for the battles ahead. I shall make a declarative statement to “BOTH” sides (i.e. public and private entities)–PREPARE TO DEFEND YOUR INTERESTS!
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Portfolio Assessments: Authenticating Student Learning “and” Program Outcomes

Measuring student achievement (and the quality of educational programs) via standardized testing that is aligned with homogenized curriculums (i.e. common core mandates) is “pointless”.  Since ignorance is “bliss” — I shall direct my comments to those “agencies” perpetuating standardization.  –STOP– the madness, you are wasting time, precious resources and another generation of “potentially” productive beings.

Authentic learning varies among individuals; therefore, “authentic assessment strategies” must accommodate for differences among practitioners (and their students).  Portfolio mechanisms are technologically and economically feasible.  So, we must move the policy debate forward–How can we initiate these measures ASAP?

Consider the following rationale!

Portfolios represent a self-selected and reflective documentation of achievement (i.e. growth in understanding and skill).  They may materialize as a collection of professional and/or student work that is placed in a folder, or as a more comprehensive and structured production.  Realizing that advancements in computer technology have made e-formats feasible; they may include a broad range of artifacts, discourse, and video recordings (i.e. performances) that represent the on-going development and verification of competencies realized by educators and/or their students.  Usually such collections include a brief introduction to the contents that follow; a summary component that communicates how the products were assembled, and a reflective caption that conveys why each piece is significant.  The compilation process requires practitioners/students to engage in introspective acts (i.e. self-evaluation and reflection).  As an on-going documentation of development, the [evolving] process provides a means to actively engage practitioners (or their students) in constructing knowledge and evaluating their performance.  It also “becomes the basis for conversations and other interactions among students … teachers and parents” (Murphy, 1998, p.7).

When teachers (are required) to develop professional portfolios; we shall have the means to evaluate teacher effectiveness and program outcomes in an “authentic” context.  Likewise, portfolios created and maintained by students will authenticate the unique characteristics of all students!  Read more?

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Comments About Loss of Special Education Teachers (in B.C.) & Increases in # of SN Students

Thank You–for posting my comment A.C.! View original post @

I commented: I’m not sure we should label (many) students as “special needs” (i.e. S.N.).  Let me explain; all students ought to be treated equal!  When we label children (for life) — then, we actually perpetuate their needs.  I taught in a maximum security, juvenile justice setting and my students definitely had special needs.  How did I respond (as a vocational/technology education instructor)?  I treated all of my students just like I would a student at the college level. –(that is to say)– I had “high” expectations for their success.

I think that (in many cases) — once the SN label is applied to students “our” (collective) expectations for their success in the world decreases.  Thus, “they” are doomed to fail as productive members in our society.  LET ME CLEARLY STATE: I am not saying  that “some” students will not succeed in overcoming their disadvantages!  I am making a general statement regarding the harmful effects of setting low expectations for special need students.  OK!

Then, there is the issue of funding SN students; (with budgets tightening) most administrators cannot afford the loss of funding for “their” special needs population (and that is a problem).  Before I made this declarative statement, I checked out the facts.  Source: Under the section: Cost per Student–it is stated that: “States vary in the amount of funding per student.  In the state of Washington, each school [district] receives over $3,500.00 per general education student and more than twice that amount for each special needs student.”

There are no incentives to remove students from SN programs into mainstream classes within the “general” student body (and society).  Yes, I know many of these students do succeed via mainstreaming “policy initiatives”!  However, I believe that — the incentive to declare “more” individuals as having special needs — “is tempting”.  Let’s reconsider the term special needs and focus on educational reforms that take into account the needs of all students.  My recent post dated Nov 21st-2013 (“Adapting Instructional Mechanisms to Accommodate Students with Special Needs”) is available @

I believe that all educators ought to become proficient at adapting their instruction to accommodate students with special needs.  We don’t always need a “special education” teacher to address this need. $$$  I shall not even go into the role that poverty has played in the lives of (otherwise normal children).


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Adapting Instructional Mechanisms to Accommodate Students with Special Needs

Well, our discussion regarding this topic is dependent upon your subject matter -AND- the nature of the needs being considered!

Given the topic (i.e. Adapting … to Accommodate … Special Needs), I shall convey an example that is based on my experience as a Career & Technical Educator while I was employed at a maximum security facility (for incarcerated youth).  This portion of my career was extremely challenging because of the context in which I had to implement my curriculum(s).  As such, some youth were only in my classroom for a few weeks/months; others had more extensive exposure to my teaching.  Furthermore, I had students entering and exiting my program almost weekly.  This scenario gives new meaning to the concept of differentiated instruction!

It is the intent of this post to illustrate the concept of adapting “your process” to address student needs.

Accordingly, the following context applies to our … ; I was initiating a graphic design project with students.  The curriculum involved a multi-stage (i.e. sequential) process that required students to produce a series of components which were based on a concept that I introduced via a short play/dialog.  Our topic: “A Discovery of Technological Systems” required students to develop multiple logos that would be combined into a master illustration of all constructs (i.e. manufacturing, communication, transportation, energy & power, construction systems and bio-technologies).  Each logo required students to “brainstorm” concepts (in the form of sketches) that could be refined and … combined with other logos to be assembled into a final “mock-up” which served as the template for — a screen printing activity — that would represent “mastery of the process”.

Note: Mastery of the process is not the same thing as mastery of the skill set!

Ok, now that you have an adequate illustration of the context in which the learning experiences occurred; I can finally convey the concept as described in the title of this post.  Well–one student in particular had not been to school (enough to complete …).  It was discussed at “our team” meeting that the extent of truancy (in this case) may have been six years.  It is sufficient to say that “our” … was a special needs student!

So, each day when “my” students arrived, we brought out their materials (generated from the previous sessions) and continued toward our goal.  (Are you following?)

Great, because I want to take this opportunity to tell you that “you” are responsible for the “safe keeping” of all work — “You must collect” & “You must distribute”.  This is essential  because “special needs” students may … the work of others (and they “may” sabotage their own efforts because of … fear of success … or a belief that they cannot possibly succeed).

So, you must control the flow of ALL resources pending/completed and/or utilized!

Back to the topic at hand–My special needs student came to class each day “scribbled out a logo” and told me — “that’s it”; it’s my design for …! I responded, let’s try another system. He (always) replied! That’s all I’m doing today!

How would you respond?

I simply stated: Ok, if you sit there quietly, without causing … (a disturbance), I will not force you to continue.  He probably thought he had this sucker wrapped around his finger.  But I had a longer range goal in my sights: HIS SUCCESS in fulfilling the requirements that were established.  Yes, he would screen print his design and wear his t-shirt (with pride); although he had yet to discover that fact.  This scenario repeated itself daily. Since I was collecting the work of all students (and securing it); some of my students had no idea that they were making progress!

Getting to the point:  This student finally developed all of the required sketches; when I said let’s refine them, he said nope that’s good enough for me!  So, I adapted my expectations (of success) to align with his expectations of failure.  NO WAY was I going to let this kid manipulate me; (SO HE COULD PROVE that HE WAS A FAILURE). As far as I was concerned; he was ready to print his haphazard collection of sketches — (after “pasting” them together into a final mock-up).  Subsequently, this student successfully “burnt” a screen template and prepared it for use on the “press”.  Finally, we slipped a t-shirt on the apparatus (after securing the template) and then, he stated he could not continue.  So, I placed my hands on top of his and “we” pulled the squeegee across the template.  Then, we gently lifted the press (i.e. template) and the image was perfect.  Wow, I don’t think I will ever forget the look on his face!~The Special Needs Student was just like all the other students in my class; HE WAS A SUCCESS. –AND– I had succeeded in guiding him toward that success!

At this point (in our story), I “almost” have a tear in my eye (and this interaction occurred over 20 years ago).  Perhaps being a scholar has “many” disadvantages?

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Classroom Management: Practical Applications of Behavioral Psychology

Teacher-centered instructional paradigms are steeped with traditions emanating from behavioral psychology.  A stimulus-response (S-R) paradigm is most frequently associated with the concept of behaviorism.  This paradigm has been referred to as the tenet of contiguity.  The notion of contiguity (i.e. classical conditioning) is especially relevant as teachers strive to effectively manage activities in their classrooms and schools.  Take a minute to consider one or more instances where the tenet of contiguity (S-R paradigm) may be relevant in your practice.  Suggestion: It may be helpful to think about rule governed behaviors (e.g. fire drills, etc.).  When you establish rules–have students participate in a discussion about the significance of each rule/behavior.  Specifically, where/when does a rule apply?  Identify as many applications of each rule as possible.  Now let’s consider the influential legacy of reinforcement contingencies (i.e. the relationship between a response and various schedules of reinforcement).  B. F. Skinner conceptualized that by controlling the consequences of behavior as it evolves; it can be “shaped and maintained via a process of selection among variations…. [that is analogous] to the process at work in biological evolution” (Richelle, 1993, pp. 26-27).  He realized that successful traits are strengthened and undesirable behaviors can be minimized via positive and negative reinforcement; a concept referred to as “operant conditioning”.  Flora & Pavlik (1990) state that: “positive and negative refer only to the presentation or removal of stimuli in the environment, not some inherent quality of the stimuli”. (p. 122)  When the presentation or removal of a stimulus increases the probability or rate of a specific behavior, it has reinforcing consequences.

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