How to Recover from Not Learning Anything About Classroom Management in College

Dear Kid Whisperer,

I am a second year teacher. Last year I taught fifth grade and this year I am in Kindergarten. Both years I have struggled with classroom management. I go over rules daily and have the kids repeat. I have a behavior chart that I am consistent with. The kids just still do not respect me. How do I get them to? I have three boys who have very difficult behavior. They refuse to stay in their seats, they tell me no, and they just laugh when they are asked to clip down. Any suggestions? Any help would be much appreciated. Thank You. -Riley, San Diego, CA


It looks like you are going through the same struggles that I did. I taught 5th grade and 1st grade in Dayton Public Schools my first two years and I, like you, had no idea what I was doing as far as classroom management was concerned. Your situation actually makes me really angry. It makes me angry because I guarantee that you are doing exactly what you were told to do by a college professor in the one classroom management class you took in college. You were told to go over the classroom rules every day and have some stupid, useless behavior chart with a clip or cards or checkmarks or some other worthless nonsense. The fact that you have been told to do things that DO NOT WORK with even remotely difficult kids is tantamount to educational malpractice. I think you should go get your money back from the university that tricked you into thinking that any of this hooey would do anything but cause you, like it did for me, to think one or both of these thoughts:

  • I am a terrible, hopeless teacher.
  • These are terrible, hopeless kids.

On the off chance that you are not thinking either of these thoughts yet, you should know that you will soon unless you understand that neither one of these thoughts are remotely true. It only appears to be that way because you have not been taught anything of value about how to manage the behaviors of kids.

I’m sure you were taught, as I was, that if you give clear expectations, came up with a few good rules, told the kids about the consequences for those rules ahead of time, gave them fair warnings about when they are close to breaking a rule, and had really great lesson plans, kids would behave. The only problem is that everything that I just laid out is completely and utterly false when dealing with even remotely difficult kids. There is no way for you to be successful if you believe any of these things, and shame on your university into tricking you into thinking that kids are one way when they really are another.

My answer to how to get respect and compliance from your students is to skill up, and I will show you the way. This will take a long time (the rest of your career, actually), but the moment that you start experimenting with Love and Logic® Skills and Calm/Assertive Procedures™, you will start to take your first step out of the hell that you are in now and into a better life for yourself and your students.

Here’s how to do it:

You will need to pick one of my blog posts from the Educator Blog or get a “Kid Whisperer Nation Teacher Tip” that I put out every night on Facebook. I want you to experiment with no more than one tip or one blog post per day. Read them before school. No one tip, procedure or skill will make everything better all of a sudden, but I just want you to notice how the thing that was supposed to be improved was improved by what you learned. Keep adding one per day and often do the same ones over and over. You will need to practice the procedures in the blogs over and over until you get them perfect.

You are right where I was two years in. It will only get better if you skill up now. If I can do it, anyone can. Remember, there is nothing wrong with you or your students. There is only something wrong with the way you have been prepared to teach.

Here’s a menu to help you get started:

First, these will help you to unlearn the nonsense that you were taught in college.


Why you should never come up with the rules and what you should do instead:


Why we never remind or warn kids and what to do instead:


You can go to the main page of my website here:


or go straight to the educator blog here:

Please keep me updated on how things are going and ask me questions if you need help.

Good luck!