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Top 10 Greatest Philosophers

in History
This list examines the influence, depth of insight and wide-reaching interest across many subjects of various lovers
of wisdom, and ranks them accordingly. It should be noted, first and foremost, that philosophy in its traditional
sense was science philosophers (like Aristotle) used rationality to come to scientific knowledge of the world
around us. It was not until relatively modern times that philosophy was considered to be separate from the physical

John Locke
The most important thinker of modern politics is the most directly responsible for
Thomas Jeffersons rhetoric in the Declaration of Independence, and the rhetoric in the
U. S. Constitution. Locke is referred to as the Father of Liberalism, because of his
development of the principles of humanism and individual freedom, founded primarily by
#1. It is said that liberalism proper, the belief in equal rights under the law, begins with
Locke. He penned the phrase government with the consent of the governed. His three
natural rights, that is, rights innate to all human beings, were and remain life, liberty,
and estate.
He did not approve of the European idea of nobility enabling some to acquire land through lineage, while the poor
remained poor. Locke is the man responsible, through Jefferson primarily, for the absence of nobility in America.
Although nobility and birthrights still exist in Europe, especially among the few kings and queens left, the practice
has all but vanished. The true democratic ideal did not arrive in the modern world until Lockes liberal theory was
taken up.

Epicurus has gotten a bit of an unfair reputation over the centuries as a teacher of self-indulgence
and excess delight. He was soundly criticized by a lot of Christian polemicists (those who make war
against all thought but Christian thought), especially during the Middle Ages, because he was
thought to be an atheist, whose principles for a happy life were passed down to this famous set of
statements: Dont fear god; dont worry about death; what is good is easy to get; what is terrible is easy to endure.
He advocated the principle of refusing belief in anything that is not tangible, including any god. Such intangible
things he considered preconceived notions, which can be manipulated. You may think of Epicureanism as no
matter what happens, enjoy life, because you only get one and it doesnt last long. Epicuruss idea of living happily
centered on just treatment of others, avoidance of pain and living in such a way as to please oneself, but not to
overindulge in anything.

He also advocated a version of the Golden Rule, It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well
and justly (agreeing neither to harm nor be harmed), and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without
living a pleasant life. Wisely, at least for Epicurus, would be avoidance of pain, danger, disease, etc.; well would
be proper diet and exercise; justly, in the Golden Rules sense of not harming others because you do not want to
be harmed.

Zeno of Citium
You may not be as familiar with him as with most of the others on this list, but Zeno founded the
school of Stoicism. Stoicism comes from the Greek stoa, which is a roofed colonnade, especially
that of the Poikile, which was a cloistered piazza on the north side of the Athenian marketplace, in
the 3rd Century BC. Stoicism is based on the idea that anything which causes us to suffer in life is
actually an error in our judgment, and that we should always have absolute control over our emotions. Rage,
elation, depression are all simple flaws in a persons reason, and thus, we are only emotionally weak when we allow
ourselves to be. Put another way, the world is what we make of it.
Epicureanism is the usual school of thought considered the opposite of Stoicism, but today many people mistake
one for the other or combine them. Epicureanism argues that displeasures do exist in life and must be avoided, in
order to enter a state of perfect mental peace (ataraxia, in Greek). Stoicism argues that mental peace must be
acquired out of your own will not to let anything upset you. Death is a necessity, so why feel depressed when
someone dies? Depression doesnt help. It only hurts. Why get enraged over something? The rage will not result in
anything good. And so, in controlling ones emotions, a state of mental peace is brought about. Of importance is to
shun desire: you may strive for what you need, but only that and nothing more. What you want will lead to excess,
and excess doesnt help, but hurts.

His full name is Ab Al al-Husayn ibn Abd Allh ibn Sn, the last two words of which were
Latinized into the more common form in Western history. He lived in the Persian Empire from c.
980 AD to 1037. The Dark Ages were not so dark. Aside from his stature as a philosopher, he was
also the worlds preeminent physician during his life. His two most well known works today are The Book of Healing
(which has nothing to do with physical medicine) and The Canon of Medicine, which was his compilation of all
known medical knowledge at that time.
Influenced primarily by #1, his Book of Healing deals with everything from logic, to math, to music, to science. He
proposed in it that Venus is closer than the Sun to Earth. Imagine not knowing that for a fact. The Sun looks a lot
closer than Venus, but he got it right. He rejected astrology as a true science, since everything in it is based on
conjecture, not evidence. He theorized that some fluid deep underground was responsible for the fossilization of

bone and wood, arguing that a powerful mineralizing and petrifying virtue which arises in certain stony spots, or
emanates suddenly from the earth during earthquake and subsidencespetrifies whatever comes into contact with
it. As a matter of fact, the petrifaction of the bodies of plants and animals is not more extraordinary than the
transformation of waters.
This is not correct, but its closer than you might believe. Petrifaction can occur in any organic material, and involves
the material, most notably wood, being impregnated by silica deposits, gradually changing from its original materials
into stone. Avicenna is the first to describe the five classical senses: taste, touch, vision, hearing and smell. He may
have been the worlds first systematic psychologist, in a time when people suffering from a mental disorder were
said to be possessed by demons. Avicenna argued that there were somatic possibilities for recovery inherent in all
aspects of a persons body, including the brain.
John Stuart Mills five methods for inductive logic stem mostly from Avicenna, who first expounded on three of them:
agreement, difference and concomitant variation. It would take too long to explain them in this list, but they are all
forms of syllogisms, and every philosopher and student of philosophy is familiar with them from the beginning of
education in the subject. They are critical to the scientific method, and whenever someone forms a statement as a
syllogism, s/he is using at least one of the methods.

Thomas Aquinas
Thomas will forever be remembered as the guy who supposedly proved the existence of God by
arguing that the Universe had to have been created by something, since everything in existence
has a beginning and an end. This is now referred to as the First Cause argument, and all
philosophers after Thomas have wrestled with proving or disproving the theory. He actually based
it on the notion of , of #1. The Greek means one who moves while not moving or the
unmoved mover.
Thomas founded everything he postulated firmly in Christianity, and for this reason, he is not universally popular,
today. Even Christians consider that, since he derived all his ethical teachings from the Bible, Thomas is not
independently authoritative of any of those teachings. But his job, in teaching the common people around him, was
to get them to understand ethics without all the abstract philosophy. He expounded on #2s principles of what we
now call cardinal virtues: justice, courage, prudence and temperance. He was able to reach the masses with this
simple, four-part instruction.
He made five famous arguments for the existence of God, which are still discussed hotly on both sides: theist and
atheist. Of those five, which he intended to define the nature of God, one is called the unity of God, which is to say
that God is not divisible. He has essence and existence, and these two qualities cannot be separated. Thus, if we
are able to express something as possessing two or more qualities, and cannot separate the qualities, then the
statement itself proves that there is a God, and Thomass example is the statement, God exists, in which
statement subject and predicate are identical.

Master Kong Qiu, as his name translates from Chinese, lived from 551 to 479 BC, and remains the
most important single philosopher in Eastern history. He espoused significant principles of ethics
and politics, in a time when the Greeks were espousing the same things. We think of democracy as
a Greek invention, a Western idea, but Confucius wrote in his Analects that the best government is one that rules
through rites and the peoples natural morality, rather than by using bribery and coercion. This may sound obvious
to us today, but he wrote it in the early 500s to late 400s BC. It is the same principle of democracy that the Greeks
argued for and developed: the peoples morality is in charge; therefore, rule by the people.
Confucius defended the idea of an Emperor, but also advocated limitations to the emperors power. The emperor
must be honest and his subjects must respect him, but he must also deserve that respect. If he makes a mistake,
his subjects must offer suggestions to correct him, and he must consider them. Any ruler who acted contrary to
these principles was a tyrant, and thus a thief more than a ruler.
Confucius also devised his own, independent version of the Golden Rule, which had existed for at least a century in
Greece before him. His phrasing was almost identical, but then furthered the idea: What one does not wish for
oneself, one ought not to do to anyone else; what one recognizes as desirable for oneself, one ought to be willing to
grant to others. The first statement is in the negative, and constitutes a passive desire not to harm others. The
second statement is much more important, constituting an active desire to help others. The only other philosopher
of antiquity to advocate the Golden Rule in the positive form is Jesus of Nazareth.

Rene Descartes
Descartes lived from 1596 to 1650, and today he is referred to as the Father of
Modern Philosophy. He created analytical geometry, based on his now immortal
Cartesian coordinate system, immortal in the sense that we are all taught it in school,
and that it is still perfectly up-to-date in almost all branches of mathematics. Analytical
geometry is the study of geometry using algebra and the Cartesian coordinate system. He discovered the laws of
refraction and reflection. He also invented the superscript notation still used today to indicate the powers of
He advocated dualism, which is very basically defined as the power of the mind over the body: strength is derived
by ignoring the weaknesses of the human physique and relying on the infinite power of the human mind.
Descartess most famous statement, now practically the motto of existentialism: Je pense donc je suis; Cogito,
ergo sum; I think, therefore I am. This is not meant to prove the existence of ones body. Quite the opposite, it is
meant to prove the existence of ones mind. He rejected perception as unreliable, and considered deduction the
only reliable method for examining, proving and disproving anything.
He also adhered to the Ontological Argument for the Existence of a Christian God, stating that, because God is
benevolent, Descartes can have some faith in the account of reality his senses provide him, for God has provided
him with a working mind and sensory system and does not desire to deceive him. From this supposition, however,

Descartes finally establishes the possibility of acquiring knowledge about the world based on deduction and
perception. In terms of the study of knowledge therefore, he can be said to have contributed such ideas as a
rigorous conception of foundationalism (basic beliefs) and the possibility that reason is the only reliable method of
attaining knowledge.

Paul of Tarsus
The wild card of this list, but give him fair consideration. Paul accomplished more with the few
letters we have of his, to various churches in Asia Minor, Israel and Rome, than any other mortal
person in the Bible, except Jesus himself. Jesus founded Christianity. But without Paul, the religion
would have died in a few hundred years at best, or remained too insular to invite the entire world
into its faith, as Jesus wanted.
Paul had more than one falling out with Peter, primarily among the other Disciples. Peter insisted
that at least one or two of the Jewish traditions remain as requirements, along with faith in Jesus, for one to be
counted as Christian. Paul insisted that faith in Jesus is all that is required, and neither circumcision, refusal of
certain foods or any other Jewish custom was necessary, because the world was now, and forevermore, under a
state of Grace in Jesus, not a state of Law according to Moses. This principle of a state of grace, which is now
central to all sects of Christianity, was Pauls idea (if not Jesuss), as was the concept of Gods moral law (in Ten
Commandments) being innately understood by all men once they reach the age of reason, by which law God will
hold all men accountable on his Day of Judgment.
He is especially impressive to have systematized these principles flawlessly, having never met Jesus in person, and
in direct opposition to Peter and several other Disciples. Many theologists and experts on Christianity and its history
even call Paul, and not Jesus, the founder of Christianity. That may be going a bit too far, but keep in mind that the
Disciples intended to keep Christianity for themselves, as the proper form of Judaism, to which only Jews could
convert. Anyone could symbolically become a Jew by circumcision and obedience of the Mosaic Laws (every one of
them, not just the Big Ten). Paul argued against this, stating that as Christ was the absolute greatest good that the
world would ever see, and Almighty because he and the Father are one, then the grace of Christ is sufficiently
powerful to save anyone from his or her sin, whether Jewish, Gentile or anything else. If the religion were to have
lasted to present day without Pauls letters championing the grace of Christ over the Law of Moses, Christianity
would just a minor sect of Judaism.

Plato lived from c. 428 to c. 348 BC, and founded the Western worlds first school of higher
education, the Academy of Athens. Almost all of Western philosophy can be traced back to
Plato, who was taught by Socrates, and preserved through his own writings, some of
Socratess ideas. If Socrates wrote anything down, it has not survived directly. Plato and
Xenophon, another of his students, recounted a lot of his teachings, as did the playwright
One of Platos most famous quotations concerns politics, Until philosophers rule as kings or those who are now
called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophize, that is, until political power and philosophy

entirely coincide, while the many natures who at present pursue either one exclusively are forcibly prevented from
doing so, cities will have no rest from evilsnor, I think, will the human race. What he means is that any person(s)
in control of a nation or city or city-state must be wise, and that if they are not, then they are ineffectual rulers. It is
only through philosophy that the world can be free of evils. Platos preferred government was one of benevolent
aristrocrats, those born of nobility, who are well educated and good, who help the common people to live better
lives. He argued against democracy proper, rule by the people themselves, since in his view, a democracy had
murdered his teacher, Socrates.
Platos most enduring theory, if not his political theories, is that of The Forms. Plato wrote about these forms
throughout many of his works, and asserted, by means of them, that immaterial abstractions possess the highest,
most fundamental kind of reality. All things of the material world can change, and our perception of them also, which
means that the reality of the material world is weaker, less defined than that of the immaterial abstractions. Plato
argued that something must have created the Universe. Whatever it is, the Universe is its offspring, and we, living
on Earth, our bodies and everything that we see and hear and touch around us, are less real than the creator of the
Universe, and the Universe itself. This is a foundation on which #4 based his understanding of existentialism.



topped another of this listers lists, heading the category of philosophy, so his rank on this one is not
surprising. But consider that Aristotle is the first to have written systems by which to understand and
everything from pure logic to ethics, politics, literature, even science. He theorized that there are four
causes, or qualities, of any thing in existence: the material cause, which is what the subject is made
formal cause, or the arrangement of the subjects material; the effective cause, the creator of the thing
final cause, which is the purpose for which a subject exists.


That all may sound perfectly obvious and not worth arguing over, but since it would take far too
long for the purpose of a top ten list to expound on classical causality, suffice to say that all
philosophers since Aristotle have had something to say on the matter, and absolutely everything that has been said,
and perhaps can be said, is, or must be, based on Aristotles system of it: it is impossible to discuss causality
without using or trying to debunk Aristotles ideas.
Aristotle is also the first person in Western history to argue that there is a hierarchy to all life in the Universe; that
because Nature never did anything unnecessary as he observed, then in the same way, this animal is in charge of
that animal, and likewise with plants and animals together. His so-called ladder of life has eleven rungs, at the top
of which are humans. The Medieval Christian theorists ran with this idea, extrapolating it to the hierarchy of God
with Man, including angels. Thus, the angelic hierarchy of Catholicism, usually thought as a purely Catholic notion,
stems from Aristotle, who lived and died before Jesus was born. Aristotle was, in fact, at the very heart of the
classical education system used through the Medieval western world.
Aristotle had something to say on just about every subject, whether abstract or concrete, and modern philosophy
almost always bases every single principle, idea, notion or discovery on a teaching of Aristotle. His principles of
ethics were founded on the concept of doing good, rather than merely being good. A person may be kind, merciful,
charitable, etc., but until he proves this by helping others, his goodness means precisely nothing to the world, in
which case it means nothing to himself. We could go on about Aristotle, of course, but this list has gone on long
enough. Honorable mentions are very many, so list them as you like.

Portrait of Socrates. Marble, Roman artwork (1st century), perhaps a copy of a lost bronze
statue made by Lysippos.
Socrates (469-399 B.C.) was a classical Greek philosopher who is credited with laying the fundamentals
of modern Western philosophy. He is known for creating Socratic irony and the Socratic method
(elenchus). He is best recognized for inventing the teaching practice of pedagogy, wherein a teacher
questions a student in a manner that draws out the correct response. He has had a profound influence on
Western philosophy, along with his students Plato and Aristole. Though much of Socrates' contribution is
to the field of ethics, his input to the field of epistemology and logic is also noteworthy.
Socratic problem
Scholars and historians who try to gather accurate information about Socrates face a peculiar problem, known as the Socratic
problem. This problems arise due to 3 key features - There is no proof that Socrates ever wrote anything, philosophical or
Whatever information we derive about Socrates is from the works of 4 scholars namely - Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle, and
The writings are in an artistic and creative style, therefore creating a doubt whether these details are truth or fiction.
So the information on Socrates that is available cannot be proved and has no historical evidence. If the evidence is only
through the writings of his associates, there is doubt that Socrates ever existed or he was an imaginary character in his
students writings to explain their philosophy.
Details of the life of Socrates can be obtained from writing of his associates and students, Plato, Aristophanes and Xenophon.
There is no proof that Socrates himself wrote anything. Most of whatever we know of him is through Plato's works like 'The
Apology'. Socrates was primarily know for h
is ideas, communication skills and public teachings. His views and ideas are reflected through his associates' works. In Plato's
work, Socrates' father was Sophroniscus and his mother Phaenarete, a midwife. Socrates married Xanthippe, who was much
younger than him and he had three sons, Lamprocles, Sophroniscus and Menexenus.
Very little is known on what Socrates did for a living. According to Timon, he took over the stonemasonry trade, which was a
family business, although Xenophon's version suggests that he dedicated his life to philosophical discussion. Aristophanes'
writings describe Socrates running a sophist school and getting paid for it. Xenophon and Plato disagree with this saying that
Socrates did not accept any payment for his teaching, with his poverty acting as proof of this fact. In Plato's dialogues he
portrays Socrates as a soldier who served in the Athenian army and fought in the battles of Potidaea, Amphipolis, and Delium.
Philosophy of Socrates
Socratic Method
The Socratic Method or elenchos is described in Plato's 'Socratic Dialogues'. The Socratic Method clarified the concepts of
Good and Justice. If you have any problem, break it down to a series of questions and you find your required answer in those
This philosphy earned him the crown of father of political and moral philosphy and a leader in mainstream Western philosphy.
The Socratic Method is so designed as to help examine one's own beliefs and evaluate their worth.
Philosophical Beliefs
Socrates was morally, intellectually and polically against the Athenians. When he was on trial for corrupting the mind of young
Athenians he explained that while they are concerned about their families and careers, they would better be concerned about
the 'welfare of their souls'. He also contested the Sophistic doctrine (virtue can be taught) and argued that successful fathers do
not necessarily produce successful sons and that moral excellence was more a matter of divine bequest than parental
Socrates believed that wisdom was parallel to one's ignorance. One's deeds were a result of this level of intelligence and
ignorance. He constantly connected the 'love of wisdom' with 'art of love'. It is debatable whether he believed that humans
could become wise, but he drew a clear line between wisdom and ignorance.
Socrates believed that one must concentrate more on self development than on material things. He encouraged people to
develop friendships and love amongst themselves. Humans possess certain basic philosophical or intellectual virtues and those
virtues were the most valuable of all possessions. To act Good and to be truly Good from within is different and virtue relates to
the Goodness of the soul.
"Ideals belong in a world that only the wise man can understand". He had no particular beliefs on politics but did object to
democracy, but disliked its Athenian form. Basically, he objected to any government that did not run on the basis of his ideas of
perfect governance. Socrates refused to enter politics because he could not tell other people how to lead their lives when he
didn't know how to live his own. He thought he was a philosopher of truth, which he had not fully discovered. Towards the end
of his life, democracy was supplanted by the Thirty Tyrants for around one year, before being restored. For Socrates, the Thirty
Tyrants were no better and arguably worse rulers than the democracy they sought to replace.
Satirical Playwrights
His caricature in Aristophanes' comedy 'The Clouds', as a clown is supposed to be a more accurate representation of Socrates
than that of his students' works, according to Kierkegaard. Socrates thought answering the laughter in a theatre was much
more difficult than answering the challenges of his accusers. Socrates was also criticised in the writings of Callias, Eupolis and
Plato and Xenophon were direct disciples of Socrates and wrote continuous descriptions of him. Aristotle refers frequently, but
in passing, to Socrates in his writings.
The Socratic Dialogues
The Socratic Dialogues are conversations between Socrates and other people of his time or discussions between him and his
followers. The latter being described in Plato's 'Phaedo'.
The Apology

The Apology is the actual speech delivered by Socrates during his death trial. In the Athenian jury system, an "apology" is
composed of three parts: a speech, followed by a counter-assessment, then some final words. 'Apologia' in Greek means
defense and not regretting anything. The speech was Socrates defending himself at the trial.
The death of Socrates is the climax point in his career and is well depicted in Plato's works. His death could have been avoided
if he had deserted his philosophy and gone back to minding his own business. Even after he was convicted he could have
escaped with the help of his friend Crito, who argued that by not escaping, Socrates was letting down his students and family.
His non-cooperation seems to be, in part, an expression of political infighting. Athens, at the time, was in political turmoil,
undergoing a change from authoritarian rule to democracy and Socrates was against democracy. Despite his loyalty to Athens,
his attitude of defending his truth clashed with current Athenian politics and society. Even the Oracle had agreed that there was
no one wiser than Socrates, but Socrates refused to believe this. Eventually Socrates was sentenced to death by poison
(hemlock). His death narrative is found in Plato's 'Phaedo'. After drinking the poison Socrates was made to walk till his legs felt
heavy. The man who gave him the hemlock pinched his foot but Socrates only felt a numbness. This numb feeling eventually
travelled to his heart and he died. Shortly before dying, Socrates spoke his last words to Crito saying, "Crito, we owe a cock to
Asclepius. Please, don't forget to pay the debt."

On a day in 399 BC the philosopher Socrates stood before a jury of 500 of his fellow Athenians accused of "refusing to
recognize the gods recognized by the state" and of "corrupting the youth." If found guilty; his
penalty could be death. The trial took place in the heart of the city, the jurors seated on
wooden benches surrounded by a crowd of spectators. Socrates' accusers (three Athenian
citizens) were allotted three hours to present their case, after which, the philosopher would
have three hours to defend himself.
Socrates was 70 years old and familiar to most Athenians. His anti-democratic views had
turned many in the city against him. Two of his students, Alcibiades and Critias, had twice
briefly overthrown the democratic government of the city, instituting a reign of terror in which
thousands of citizens were deprived of their property and either banished from the city or

After hearing the arguments of both Socrates and his accusers, the jury was asked to vote on
his guilt. Under Athenian law the jurors did not deliberate the point. Instead, each juror
registered his judgment by placing a small disk into an urn marked either "guilty" or "not guilty." Socrates was found guilty
by a vote of 280 to 220.
The jurors were next asked to determine Socrates' penalty. His accusers argued for the death penalty. Socrates was given
the opportunity to suggest his own punishment and could probably have avoided death by recommending exile. Instead,
the philosopher initially offered the sarcastic recommendation that he be rewarded for his actions. When pressed for a
realistic punishment, he proposed that he be fined a modest sum of money. Faced with the two choices, the jury selected
death for Socrates.
The philosopher was taken to the near-by jail where his sentence would be carried out. Athenian law prescribed death by
drinking a cup of poison hemlock. Socrates would be his own executioner.

"What must I do?"

Plato was Socrates' most famous student. Although he was not present at his mentor's death, he did know those who were
there. Plato describes the scene through the narrative voice of the fictional character Phaedo.
"When Crito heard, he signaled to the slave who was standing by. The boy went out, and returned after a few moments
with the man who was to administer the poison which he brought ready mixed in a cup. When Socrates saw him, he said,
'Now, good sir, you understand these things. What must I do?'
'Just drink it and walk around until your legs begin to feel heavy, then lie down. It will soon act.' With that he offered
Socrates the cup.
The latter took it quite cheerfully without a tremor, with no change of color or expression. He just gave the man his stolid
look, and asked, 'How say you, is it permissible to pledge this drink to anyone? May I?'
The answer came, 'We allow reasonable time in which to drink it.'
'I understand', he said, 'we can and must pray to the gods that our sojourn on earth will continue happy beyond the grave.
This is my prayer, and may it come to pass.' With these words, he stoically drank the potion, quite readily and cheerfully.
Up till this moment most of us were able with some decency to hold back our tears, but when we saw him drinking the
poison to the last drop, we could restrain ourselves no longer. In spite of myself, the tears came in floods, so that I covered
my face and wept - not for him, but at my own misfortune at losing such a man as my friend. Crito, even before me, rose
and went out when he could check his tears no longer.

Apollodorus was already steadily weeping, and by drying his eyes, crying again and sobbing, he affected everyone present
except for Socrates himself.
He said, 'You are strange fellows; what is wrong with you? I sent the women away
for this very purpose, to stop their creating such a scene. I have heard that one
should die in silence. So please be quiet and keep control of yourselves.' These
words made us ashamed, and we stopped crying.
Socrates walked around until he said that his legs were becoming heavy, when he
lay on his back, as the attendant instructed. This fellow felt him, and then a
moment later examined his feet and legs again. Squeezing a foot hard, he asked
him if he felt anything. Socrates said that he did not. He did the same to his calves
and, going higher, showed us that he was becoming cold and stiff. Then he felt him
a last time and said that when the poison reached the heart he would be gone.

Jacques-Louis David, 1787

The Death of Socrates

As the chill sensation got to his waist, Socrates uncovered his head (he had put
something over it) and said his last words: 'Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius. Do pay it. Don't forget.'
'Of course', said Crito. 'Do you want to say anything else?'
'There was no reply to this question, but after a while he gave a slight stir, and the attendant uncovered him and examined
his eyes. Then Crito saw that he was dead, he closed his mouth and eyelids.
This was the end of our friend, the best, wisest and most upright man of any that I have ever known"

Plato's description appears in: Tredennick, Hugh (translator)The last days of Socrates : Euthyphro, The apology, Crito,
Phaedo / Plato (1959); Freeman, Charles, The Greek Achievement (1999); Stone, I.F., The Trial of Socrates (1988).

Soloman Asch
Conformity and impression formation experiments
The pioneer of Gestalt psychology and Social psychology, Solomon E. Asch was born in Warsaw, Poland on
September 14, 1907. Asch migrated to the United States in 1920 at the age of 13. He lived with his family in the
Lower East Side of Manhattan learning English language by reading Charles Dickens. In 1928, Solomon Asch
earned his bachelors degree from the College of the City of New York after which he went to Columbia University.
At Columbia, Asch was mentored by Max Wertheimer who highly influenced Aschs views on Gestalt. Asch
received his masters degree in 1930 followed by PhD in 1932.
When Hitler was in full power during World War II, Asch studied the impact and consequences of indoctrination and
propaganda. During this time, Asch was a professor at the psychology department of Brooklyn College. Solomon
Asch also taught at Swarthmore College for 19 years. Also at Swarthmore College, Asch worked with Wolfgang
Khler, a renowned Gestalt psychologist. Asch later received the prestigious title of Fellow of the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences.
It was during the 1950s that Solomon Asch became famous due to his series of experiments better known as the Asch
conformity experiments. These experiments showed the effects of social pressure on conformity. During this time,
Asch became widely recognized for his theories on social psychology. Many of his ideas left a permanent impact on
psychology. Solomon Asch served as the director and professor of psychology at the Institute for Cognitive Studies
at Rutgers University from 1966 to 1972.

While Solomon Asch left many lasting impacts on the field of psychology, his studies on conformity also known as
Asch Paradigms are by far his most recognized achievement. The purpose of these experiments was to prove the
significance of conformity in social settings. Many following researchers were heavily influenced by Aschs research
and studies. Among these was Stanley Milgram who was supervised by Asch during his PhD at Harvard University.
Also among his greatest achievements is Solomon Aschs textbook, Social Psychology (1952) which is an
embodiment of his theories. More publications by Asch include, Effects of group pressure upon the modification and
distortion of judgment (1951), Opinions and social pressure (1955), Studies of independence and conformity: A
minority of one against a unanimous majority (1956) and Social psychology (1987).
Solomon Asch passed away on February 20, 1996 in Haverford, Pennsylvania at the age of 88.

Albert Bandura
Social-learning theory (modeling); reciprocal determinism; self-efficacy
People who believe they have the power to exercise, some measures of control over their lives are more healthier,
more effective, more successful than those who lack faith in their ability to effect changes in their lives. Albert
It is not wrong to say that Albert bandura is a living legend in the world of psychology, He is truly a living legend
who has proposed theories that proved his mettle against and claimed him fame to the levels of B.F Skinner,
Sigmund Freud and Jean Piaget. His name is mentioned against some famous psychologists, including the likes of
Sigmund Freud, for his works encompasses around the major contributions in the major spectrums of psychology
ranging from social cognitive theory, therapy to personality psychology. Born in Mundare, Canada in 1925 and
brought up in a small farming community in Canada after doing his elementary school he had no higher learning
opportunities in that city to quench his thirst for knowledge so that lead him into becoming a self motivated learner.
He did his BA from University of British Columbia. Then he did his MA from University of Iowa in theoretical
His first book is based upon the theories and observations behind adolescent aggression. He conducted Bobo doll
experiment in 1961 which gained fame among the internationally acclaimed psychologists, he conducted this
experiment on a young woman spanking a doll, this a kind of doll which sways back and forth when hit by any
object as in hammer ,more commonly known as bob clown. The woman objected the clown to physical abuses and
shouting out sockeroo!, Bandura filmed this video and showed it to a bunch of kids in kindergarten who liked it a
lot as per their natural instincts, so they were give a set of bobo dolls and little hammers in front of a bunch of
observers to watch on their behaviors. Naturally the little started hammering the bobo dolls with all enthusiasm, so
by his experiments he concluded that there is a phenomenon known as observational leaning or modeling, He coined
the term social learning theory as an inference for this experiment. The bobo doll experiment provided the basis for
child psychology which says that a child learns by observing and repeating what he sees and perceives in the
According to the social learning theory there are some necessary traits that are to be adopted while learning in a
social situation, these traits are attention, retention, reproduction, motivation and self-regulation. His ground
breaking book based on social learning theory published in 1977 set a new direction for modern psychology in

1980s. His acclaimed publication in 1986 Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory, in
which he proposed that human beings are in control of themselves and have a proactive approach in dealing with life
situations and with the choices they make for themselves. He also wrote a book on self-efficacy which is the art of
practicing self-control which got published in 1977.
Albert Bandura is a major psychologist of this era who has contributed a great deal in the history of modern
psychology. His honorable accolades includes the most youngest president of the American Psychological
Association (APA) where he served as the 82nd president of the prestigious association, member of editorial board of
the nine psychological journals and Grawmeyer award winner in psychology. His ground breaking theory in self
regulated learning earned him the award for distinguished scientific contributions from APA. He also received 16
honorary degrees from universities of repute. As a higher recognition of his works American Psychological
Association awarded him with a gold medal recognizing and appreciating his lifetime contributions towards

Erik Erikson
neo-Freudian, humanistic; 8 psychosocial stages of development: theory shows how people evolve
through the life span. Each stage is marked by a psychological crisis that involves confronting "Who am

Sigmund Freud
Psychosexual stage theory of personality; stressed importance of unconscious and sexual drive:
psychoanalysis; theory of dreaming
Sigmund Freud was born in Freiberg, Austria on May 6, 1856. Freud is mainly associated with neuropsychology. He
contributed a lot to the field through his theories and practice. Freud began by studying hysteria and then sexuality.
Sigmund Freud was a very controversial personality of the 20th century. His studies have a lot to do with dreams.
Freud defined what he named the Oedipus complex and also presented the three stages of immature sexual
When he was four years old, Freuds family moved to Vienna, where he would live and work for the most of his life.
In 1881, Freud received his degree in medical and got engaged to be married a year later. He had six children. His
youngest daughter Anna went on to become a prominent psychoanalyst. Upon graduation, Freud set up his own
private practice treating a variety of psychological disorders. However, Sigmund Freud preferred and considered
himself to be a scientist first and then a doctor. He therefore, set out to comprehend human experiences and
Since early on in his career, Freud was highly influenced by the work of his colleague and friend, Josef Breuer who
discovered the fact that upon encouraging a patient of hysteria to talk candidly about the earliest signs and incidents
of hysteria, the symptoms slowly fade away. Taking inspiration from Breuer, Freud hypothesized that neurosis
originated from intensely distressing experiences that had happened in the patients past. According to Freud, the
original incidents are forgotten and concealed from consciousness. Freud treated his patients by encouraging his
patients to think about and remember the experience in order to bring it back to the conscious and while recalling the
experience, the patient would confront it coming to terms with it both emotionally and intellectually. Freud believed
this way, the patient can let it out and get rid of his/her neurotic condition. The findings and theories of Freud and
Breuer together were published in 1895 in Studies in Hysteria.

After working for a long time together, Breuer decided to discontinue working with Freud because he thought Freud
stressed overly on the sexual implications and origins of a neurotic patient and was not willing to consider other
factors. Freud on the other hand, supported his own argument and published The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900
followed by The Psychopathology of Everyday Life in 1901 and Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality in 1905.
Most of his contemporaries saw Freuds work to be overplayed and disreputable. Freud was invited to the United
States in 1909 to deliver a series of lectures. It was after these lectures that Sigmund Freud gained immense fame.
Also contributing to his fame was his book, Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1916).
Freud Sigmunds life of curiosity and inquiry ended on September 23, 1939 when he committed suicide. Freud had
requested a lethally high dose of morphine from his doctor during exiling in England. Freud had been fighting oral
Harry Harlow
Attachment studies with infant monkeys
So far as love or affection is concerned, psychologists have failed in their mission. The little we know about love
does not transcend simple observation, and the little we write about it has been written better by poets and
novelists. Harry Harlow, The Nature of Love ,1958.
Born on October 31st, 1905, Harry Harlow was an American by nationality. He was a famous psychologist best
known for his works on social isolation, maternal separation and dependency needs which he proved through
experiments on rhesus monkeys. These experiments highlighted the significance of motherly love, care and affection
in social and cognitive development in children. He acquired his college education from Reed College in Oregon.
After that, he got a chance to study at Stanford University where he opted to study English. He did not perform so
well at that subject, so he switched over to psychology, and, declared that he would be majoring in psychology.
Harlow studied under the supervision of Lewis Terman who was recognized for the development of Stanford- Binet
IQ test. He received his PhD in 1930 and then obtained the designation of professorship at University of Wisconsin
in Madison. When the university failed to give him a separate laboratory for conducting psychological experiments
he, with the assistance of his graduate students, made his own laboratory known as Primate laboratory.
Harry Harlow conducted several experiments on apes and monkey for proving his theories on memory, cognitive
processes and learning in infants. Harlow set up a nursery for rearing rhesus monkeys as part of his experimental
studies. He separated the infant rhesus monkeys from their mothers and put them in that nursery setup in Primate lab.
This method of bringing up the infant monkeys was called maternal deprivation. He inferred through these
experiments that there is a lack of social development and normal behavior in new born monkeys who suffered from
the phenomena of maternal deprivation. Harlows studies highlighted the importance of mother child bond in the
healthy social and cognitive development of a child. His research studies were entitled Maternal Care and Maternal
Health which got published in 1950 in John Bowlbys report sponsored by World Health Organization. Bowlbys
study also concluded that a mother is essential to a childs physical and mental development. This study stirred up a
lot of debate, so Harlow proceeded to study further by creating substitute inanimate mothers made of wires and
cloth, respectively. He provided the wired inanimate mothers with food in bottles whereas the cloth inanimate
mothers were provided with nothing. Harlow observed that the infants would get attracted towards clothed inanimate
mothers, despite, that the wired mothers had food. This experiment proved that an infant monkeys physical contact
with his mother was essential for nurturing his social, cognitive and physiological health.
Harlow had been bestowed with numerous honors and awards, including the National Medal of Science, Howard
Crosby Warren Medal as well as the gold medal awarded by the prestigious American Psychological Association.
Harry Harlow died on December 6th, 1981, in United States.

Lawrence Kohlberg
Stage theory of moral development
Lawrence Kohlberg was a distinguished psychologist. He was well known for developing the theory about the stages
of moral development. Born on October 25th, 1927, he graduated from University of Chicago. He identified his area
of interest in moral development despite the fact that it was a rare subject to study and research in that era. His area
of interest created a new field of psychology known as moral development. He started his career by teaching at Yale
University as an assistant professor.
Lawrence Kohlberg major works comprised of the theory of moral development. This theory was developed through
an inspiration by the works of Jean Piaget. Kohlberg created this theory while studying at the University of Chicago
for his bachelors degree. His contribution to the field of psychology took him in the league of the most renowned
psychologists that the 20th century has produced. That league comprised of 30 most prominent psychologists of the
20th century. The works of Lawrence Kohlberg were responded and supported by the greatest scholars of his time
such as James Rest and Elliot Turiel through their valuable contributions. Kohlberg started off his academic career as
an assistant professor with Yale University. He worked there from the time period of 1958 to 1961. After that, he
joined the University of Chicage as an assistant in the psychology department. He spent one year working as an
assistant and then he was appointed as an associate professor for teaching social psychology and education. He wrote
a thesis on his findings for the research on the stages of moral development. This research is entitled as Kohlbergs
stages of moral development. The theories proposed by Lawrence Kohlberg is based on the evolution of moral
reasoning. His thesis was inspired by the works by Jean Piaget as well as the behavior dilemmas faced by children.
According to the theory of moral development, the purpose of education should be to nurture and develop minds.
Lawrence Kohlberg developed his theory on the basis of the assumption that human beings are internally motivated
to learn and broaden their horizons by experiencing through the environment they interact with on a daily basis. This
phenomenon is known as social development. According to Kohlbergs theory, there are certain common patterns
observed in the society that constitutes the general social life of the peer groups, families as well as decision making
and cooperation for sustenance and mutual defense. Humans in a particular society maintain the same cognitive
patterns and action based activities to maintain and develop the society individually and collectively. These common
patterns of social behavior also play a significant role in maintaining fruitful relations with others in the society.
Moreover, the experience of each others in the society also motivates them to accept their roles and function
smoothly with the society. Eventually Kohlberg frimly embedded the idea that moral development can be
incorporated effectively in the society through moral reasoning. He developed six stages of moral development that
addressed to the varying levels of ethical behavior in the society. Kohlberg died on January 19th,1987.

Abraham Maslow
Hierarchy of needs; self actualization

Abraham Maslow was an American psychology professor who was born in Brooklyn,
New York on April 1, 1908. Maslow remains famous for his contributions to psychology
in terms of the theory he proposed otherwise known as The Hierarchy of Needs. He is
also known the empathetic, compassionate founder of Humanistic Psychology which
entails the focus on every individuals potential and stresses upon significance of
growth and self actualization. Humanistic Psychology, according to Maslow and his
kind, states that people are innately good natured. According to his theory, mental
and social disorders result as a deviation from a humans natural goodness.

Abraham Maslow migrated from Russia; he was the first child among seventh others in his Jewish family. In his
notes, he mentioned his childhood as lonesome and rather abysmal and that he enjoyed spending his time perusing
fiction and nonfiction in the library. Initially Maslow intended on studying law at City College in New York but he
decided to change to University of Wisconsin where he developed interest in psychology. It was in Wisconsin where
Maslow found a great mentor and guide in his doctoral advisor Harry Harlow. Maslow commenced teaching at
Brooklyn College in 1937 where he continued working as a member to the faculty of the institute. His influences
include the famous Gestalt psychologist Max Wertheimer as well as well known anthropologist Ruth Benedict. Due
to his admiration for these people, Maslow studied and analyzed them for his theories that later on proved to become
the foundation of his contributions.
Later on Maslow became the driving force behind humanistic psychology. His hypothesis became well
acknowledged theories that included the famous hierarchy of needs in addiction to self actualization. His analysis
and experiences formed fundamental subjects in the humanist movement pertaining to psychological studies. In an
era where psychologists focused on the clinical aspects of mental and social disorders, Maslow made a significant
attempt at understanding and asserting the belief that humans are capable of wonderful, altruistic deeds. His
emphasis was on the good nature of his animate surroundings. He extrapolated on human nature, tendencies and how
ones potential and peaks can be materialized into reality. Abraham Maslow paid much attention on the notion to
increase ones personal growth and goodness by dispelling the overtly cold, somewhat insensitive studies other
psychologists put forth as their studies.
Interestingly enough, Maslows contribution did not sync in well with those of his peers; his theories were deemed
too positive and optimistic for the academics studying them. This criticism did not, however, inhibit Maslow
from injecting a strong sense of hope and resurgence in positive psychology. He was highly opposed to the idea of
treating humans as bags of symptoms; his contributions insisted upon connecting with humans to understand them
so they could receive the catharsis and solution they required. In his Hierarchy of Needs, Maslow compassionately
explains the needs of human beings in the form of a pyramid. They belong to categories of psychological ones, ones
related to love, esteem, self actualization and safety. This pyramid has long described and translated the basic nature
of human beings around us. It is because of his genius theory today people can relate to their wants and needs in the
form of a simple, colorful pyramid.

Stanley Milgram
Obedience studies
Stanley Milgram was born on August 15, 1933 in the New York City to a Hungarian father and Jewish mother. He
was excellent in his studies and a great team leader among his friends. He studied in James Monroe High School.
Due to his diligence and hard work, he acquired his Bachelor degree in Political Science from Queens college,
New York in 1954 which was tuition free. Although initially being rejected from an underground programme at
Harvard, he was later accepted after enrolling himself as a student in Harvards office of special students. Thus in
1960, he received his Ph.D in Social Psychology from Harvard University.

In general, Milgram preferred to handle subjects that were related to common man. For example, he was questioned
by his mother-in-law once as to why people dont quit their seats on the subway to which he replied that these people
were unable to act against each other. Much later, his students went out to investigate and it was proved that his
theory was accurate.
In 1974, he published Obedience to Authority, an experiment to analyze the willingness of the participants to obey a
figure that was authoritative to them. This was in alliance with their personal conscience. In July 1961, the
experiments started when the German Nazi War criminal Adolf Eichmann was tried. Stanley Milgram made use of
his psychological study to find out whether Eichmann and his accomplices did it for their own mutual purposes?
However, his testing proved that the millions of accomplices were following orders and at the same time go against
their moral beliefs. These experiments have been carried out across many cultures, societies and globes. Apparently,
these experiments have been termed physically and psychologically abusive and perceive a very controversial aspect
of Psychology.
Besides, an anti-social behavior experiment was carried out by Stanley Milgram to find out the relation between
media consumption and anti-social behavior. It also gave the opportunity of stealing money or donating it to charity.
On the other hand, Milgram also developed the lost letter experiment which entails the co-operation and extending
hand of people towards strangers and their attitude towards other groups. It happens so when they planted sealed and
stamped letters in public places which were for important units such as individuals and favorable organization such
as medical and research institutes and for stigmatized organization such as Friends of the Nazi Party. Strangely, letter
to the favorable organizations and individuals were mailed where as those to stigmatized organizations were not.
For his achievements mainly for his work on obedience, he was awarded Annual Social Psychology Award by the
American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1974. He died in New York city in 1984 at the age of 51
leaving behind his widow and two children.

Ivan Pavlov
Classical Conditioning- studies of dogs and salivation
It goes without saying that the desire to accomplish the task with more confidence,
to avoid wasting time and labour, and to spare our experimental animals as much as
possible, made us strictly observe all the precautions taken by surgeons in respect to
their patients. -Ivan Pavlov

Ivan Pavlov was one of the most eminent Russian physiologists. He was known for his ground breaking works in
classical conditioning, transmarginal inhibition and behavior modification. Born on 26th September, 1849. He was
intellectually gifted since his childhood. He was the father of modern Russian physiology. His intellectual giftedness
was accompanied with the very unusual energy that he possessed known famously as the instinct for research. He
decided to leave behind his career in a religious center and decided to study science. After that, he decided to study
mathematics and physics and enrolled himself at the University of St. Petersburg for studying the field of natural
science. He discovered many aspects of sciences and physiology through his keen observations that were transferred
from one generation to the next generation. Pavlov also has the honor of winning Nobel Prize for physiology as well
as medicine in the year 1904.
He did his early schooling from Ryazan church school. After which, he attended the local theological seminary but
left it without completion to attend the University of St. Petersberg. He got a job as a laboratory assistant to with

professor Ustimovich at the veterinary institute in the physiological department. Ivan Pavlov examined the human
circulatory system as a requirement to complete his medical dissertation for a time period of two years. Following
that, he was invited by a very well-known Russian clinician in 1878 to work as the chief of the clinic in his
physiological laboratory. Ivan Pavlov graduated with a first class distinction and a gold medal from the medical
military academy achieved by his research work. Then, he also earned a fellowship at the Academy for his
postgraduate work. He researched extensively in the fields of neurological and physiological sciences.
Many of his research works were in the field of involuntary reflex actions, temperament and conditioning. The
experiments for his research works were conducted on the digestive system of animals to examine keenly the
anatomy and functioning of different parts making up the digestive system. Pavlovs studies and observations on
reflex actions were his major accomplishments in his research works, but the concept which was originally
developed by Pavlov and his assistant Ivan Filippovitch Tolochinov is conditioned reflex. Pavlov learnt this
concept about conditioned reflex while experimenting on the phenomena of salivation rate among dogs. He learnt
that when the dog was given food he would actually salivate when he saw the food despite the fact that the bell was
rung. Later, due to the phenomena of conditioned reflex the dog started salivating with the bell ring rather than the
sight of the food. Ivan Pavlov was the pioneer of ground breaking discoveries in the field of physiology. He had an
energetic personality that helped him develop his intellectual brilliance in research. He died on 27th February, 1936.

Jean Piaget
Stage theory of cognitive development
The principal goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new
things, not simply repeating what other generations have done. Jean Piaget, The Origins of Intelligence in
Children, 1953.
Jean Piaget was a well-known Swiss psychologist. Born on 9th August, 1896, he was a philosopher as well as a
developmental psychologist who laid great emphasis on educating children. He emphasized that education is the
savior of the future generations as well as a necessity for healthy upbringing of the entire society. He studied natural
history and philosophy. While working withAlfred Binet, developer of Binet intelligence tests, Piaget noticed a
pattern in a set of questions that young children consistently answered wrong. This inspired him to delve further into
childrens mind. Having realized the limitations of traditional research methods when conducting psychoanalysis on
children, Piaget came up with a new method of examination. He conducted interviews where he would ask a series
of standard questions and then based on their response, some non-standard questions. He reached the conclusion that
the chain of reasoning in children and adults differs significantly. He observed that the knowledge that children
acquire is grouped into schemas. Each new piece of information is either merged into the same schema, modifies the
existing schema or creates a new schema altogether. He is mostly remembered for his contribution to research in
childrens cognitive development.
Piaget observed the cognitive development of his own children and came up with a model to describe the stages that
children pass through in the development of intelligence and reasoning. The theory consists of four stages; (1) the
sensorimotor stage (2) the preoperational stage, (3) the concrete operational stage, and (4) the formal operation stage.
He concluded that childrens reasoning was not faulty but when compared to adults it was erroneous due to the
limited experiences of the children about the natural and social world. Jean Piaget believed that knowledge didnt
mean to learn some facts and be able to repeat them but to make connections and to understand how it all fits
together. Thus he concluded that efforts to introduce abstract concepts to children at a young age would not result in
conceptual learning but would only lead to memorization (rote learning). Although Piaget did not know how to apply
his theories to education, he was a proponent of hands-on learning.

Numerous teachers have adopted his philosophy, moving on from traditional teaching methods to more interactive
tactics for subjects such as science, math, languages and social studies. Overall, his work in child cognition
transformed how children, their mental capabilities and their reasoning are perceived. Piaget died at the age of 84,
having given birth to new fields in science including genetic epistemology, cognitive theory, and developmental
psychology among others. During his lifetime, Piaget authored numerous books and papers including The Childs
Conception of the World (1926), The Origin of Intelligence in Children (1936), and The Early Growth of Logic in
the Child (1958).

Carl Rogers
Person (client-)centered therapy; unconditional positive regard
Carl Ransom Rogers was one of the most prominent figures in the history of
psychology, well known as the founder of humanistic approach. His influential works
have given way to new dimensions in psychology and created a profound impact on
psychotherapy, counseling and education. He was born on January 8th 1902 in
Chicago, Illinois.

Rogers received his early education in a religious environment followed by studying scientific methods and its
application in a practical world. He chose agriculture as his first field of study at University of Wisconsin-Madison,
followed by history and religion. Then, he went on to attend International Christian Conference at age 20, after that
he decided to change his career paths and attended Teachers College at Columbia University from where he obtained
his MA in 1928 and PhD in 1931. After completing his work for PhD degree he engaged himself in child behavioral
studies where he held office as the director of The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in New York.
Serving as a professor of psychology at University of Chicago he got elected as the president of American
Psychological Association. During this period he also wrote On Becoming a Person: A Therapists View of
Psychotherapy in 1961.
He worked with Abraham Maslow in laying grounds for humanistic psychology, the major applications of his theory
included person-centered therapy, learner centered teaching, cross cultural relations and rogerian rhetorical approach.
The theories that he presented on self consisted of 19 propositions, the first one said that every living organism had a
sense of their well-being, they know what was threatening or nourishing for them. He termed this notion as
organismic valuing. He proposed this idea based on evolution according to which man understands and differentiates
between his needs and their fulfillment. Positive regard is the most valuable emotion among humans which includes
all the positive emotions like love, appreciation, affection, respect and attention to lead a prosperous and successful
life. Positive regard also gives way to nurture positive self-regard which is the self-esteem of a person, what he
perceives himself to be in his own eyes, how he values and worth himself.
Carl Rogers used the term person-centered approach to devise applications related to personality theory,
interpersonal relations, cross cultural relations and professions like nursing and teaching that need extensive human
care and support. Person centered approach was initially named as client centered approach, this approach was
devised when Carl Rogers was conducting therapeutic sessions with his clients. His helper, Elias Porter measured the
employment of directiveness and non-directiveness by the counselor in maintaining the effectiveness standard of the
therapy. Learner centered teaching was another concept that Roger devised and emphasized upon by concluding that
learning occurs in a free environment. He wrote Freedom to Learn in 1969 to describe this theory. American
Psychological Association recognized his works and bestowed him with an Award for Distinguished Scientific
Contributions in accreditation for his exemplary works to the field of psychology. Also, he was awarded with

Humanists of the Year in 1964 by American Humanist Association. He had the honor of being the sixth prominent
psychologist of 20th century.

B.F. Skinner
Operant conditioning- reinforcement; invewnted Skinner box
We should not teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. Knowing the contents of a few works of
literature is a trivial achievement. Being inclined to go on reading is a great achievement. B. F. Skinner
Burrhus Frederick Skinner(B. F. Skinner), the man well known as a behaviorist, psychologist, author, inventor and
social philosopher was born on March 20th 1904, the man proved himself to be an accomplished psychologist by
writing a whole new chapter in behavioral psychology. He was born and raised in Pennsylvania where he received
his early education, after which he graduated from Hamilton college in New York where he decided to become a
writer. His theories on behaviorism have made a profound impact on developing a revolutionary school of thought
known as Radical Behaviorism.
One of his ground-breaking inventions was the operant conditioning chamber, which is also called Skinner box. The
skinner box consisted of a lever, a food tray and a rat which can feed itself by pressing the lever. Each time a rat was
put into that box it would run and sniff around for the food eventually identifying the correct spot, pressing the lever
and getting the food pellet. After the first successful attempt, the rat got used to the box and hit many successful
attempts resulting in getting food as a reward until it satiated its hunger. BF Skinner formulated the principle of
reinforcement through this experiment. The studies indicated and confirmed his belief that human free will is not a
phenomenal reality but an indicator of results produced by the actions performed. Reinforcement processes indicated
that a positive action beget a positive consequence and a negative action beget a negative consequence, so positive
and negative consequences of actions reinforces a person to perform what brings about a positive outcome or reward
and avoid the negative actions to stay clear of punishments. He redefined the meaning of free will by proposing the
revolutionary concept of behaviorism. The therapy technique of behavior modification resulted from his theories on
reinforcement and behaviorism. The significant concept identified by proposition of this theory is reinforcement
which can be controlled by shaping. Shaping and controlling are the fundamental concepts underlying theory of
reinforcement. B. F. Skinner also conducted his experiments on a device called verbal summator to analyze the
theories of verbal behavior and he also conducted an analysis about superstitious phenomena on pigeons.
He had earned numerous awards and positions in rewards for his phenomenal works to the field of psychology.
American Psychological Association bestowed him with and Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions in
1958, other accreditations to his name include Scholar Hall of Fame Award given by the Academy of Human
Resource Development. He was awarded honorary degrees by universities of great repute including Alfred College,
Harvard University and John Hopkins University, University of Chicago and McGill University. B. F. Skinner also
penned down some notable books which proved his mettle as a great writer, the books he wrote include Walden Two
and Beyond Freedom and Dignity.
John Watson
Father of Behaviorism; Baby Albert experiment- classically conditioned fear

Born on 9 January 1878 in North-Carolina, John Broadus Watson was an American

psychologist who popularized behaviorism as an approach to psychology. As a student,
Watson was not particularly gifted having been through a rough childhood after his
father left him. His teacher, Gordon Moore, at Furman University helped him get his
life back together. John moved on to University of Chicago for his doctorate. At that
time, University of Chicago was a hotbed of psychology and this was where the
foundation for Johns ideas about behaviorism was laid. He studied philosophy with
giants like John Dewey, Moore and Tufts and became interested with psychology and
animal behavior. Watson wanted to transform psychology into a science; he wanted to
introduce a methodology that would make it more exact. After completing his PhD, he
was offered a faculty position at the prestigious John Hopkins University where he was
elevated to the chair of psychology department.

In 1913, John Watson published an article Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It. In it he argued that psychology
had become stagnant because the psychologists were focusing at inappropriate subject matters: introspection and
consciousness. He proposed objective psychology of behavior that studied peoples actions or behavior and the
ability to predict and manipulate it. The article came to be known as The Behaviorist Manifesto. Watson believed
behaviorism would take psychology to the same level as other sciences. He maintained that external behavior and
reaction to a particular stimuli, rather than internal mental state, provided an insight into a persons actions. Although
the article did little to sway conventional psychologists, it paved way for further development in the field.
In his early ears, Watson studied behavior of animals. Later, he turned to human behavior and emotions. One of his
most controversial experiments is the Little Albert where he conditioned an 11 month old boy to fear a white rat by
accompanying the rat with a loud clanging sound every time. The experiment was morally objectionable because the
child was never deconditioned. The result of the study would have strengthened Watsons theories but it came to
light that Albert portrayed as a young, healthy boy was in fact mentally ill. Questions arose whether Watson knew
the childs disabilities would skew the result.
In 1915, John Watson served as the president of American Psychological Association (APA) and in 1957, he was
awarded APAs award for contribution to psychology. By 1930s, Behaviorism became the dominant approach to
psychology. However, by then it was too late for John Watson who, in 1920, was caught having an affair with one of
his students and was forced to resign from his post at John Hopkins. After leaving academia, John started working in
an advertising agency where he applied his theories of Behaviorism and quickly rose to the ranks of vice-presidency
at the agency. Although by 1950, Behaviorism began to lose its hold on psychology but some of it ideas and
principles are used even today. Conditioning is still very popular for treatment of destructive behavior and to learn
new skills.

Wilheim Wundt
Set up first psychological laboratory; theory of structuralism
The father of experimental psychology, Wilhelm Wundt was a German psychologist, physician, physiologist and
professor. He is still known today to be amongst the founders of modern psychology. He was also the founder of
the first formal psychological laboratory in 1879 at the University of Leipzig. He used the laboratory to identify
abnormal behaviors, mental disorders as well as explore the nature of religious beliefs and find damaged parts of
the brain. His research established psychology as a separate science. Wilhelm Wundt is also associated with
founding the first psychological research journal in 1881. The asteroids 635 Vundita and 11040 were named after
Wilhelm Wundt to honor him.
Wilhelm Wundt was born on August 16, 1832 in Neckarau, Baden. Wilhelm was the fourth child of Maximilian
Wundt, a Lutheran minister and Marie Frederike. At four years of age, Wilhelm moved with his family to a small
town known as Heidelsheim. From 1851 to 1856, Wundt studied at the University of Tbingen,University of

Heidelberg, and the University of Berlin. After graduating with a degree in medicine from the University of
Heidelberg, for a brief period of time, Wundt studied with Johannes Muller and later with the physicist Hermann von
Helmholtz. His work during this time later cast a heavy influence in experimental psychology. In 1874, he published
the Principles of Physiological Psychology which helped establish experimental procedures in psychological
research. He then established the very first two experimental psychology labs while working at the University of
Liepzig. Wilhelm Wundt died on August 31, 1920.
According to Wundt, psychology was a science of conscious experience and that if you became a trained observer,
you could tell precisely about emotions, thoughts and feelings through a process he called introspection. Wilhelm
Wundts name is also associated with structuralism, a theoretical perspective that describes the structures that
compose the mind.
An extensive writer Wundt wrote keenly on a variety of subjects including physiology, philosophy,
psycholinguistics, psychology and physics. Modern psychology has undoubtedly benefitted a lot from the works of
Wilhelm Wundt produced from his 65 years long career. Some selected publications by Wilhelm Wundt include
Beitrge zur Theorie der Sinneswahrnehmung (1862), Vorlesungen ber die Menschen und Thierseele (1893) and
Vlkerpsychologie, 10 volumes (1900-1920). In recognition of Wundts work, the American Psychological
Association established the Wilhelm Wundt-William James Award for Exceptional Contributions to Trans-Atlantic
Psychology, which recognizes a significant record of trans-Atlantic research collaboration.
An exceptional teacher, Wundt taught many bright students. Many of his students including Edward Titchener, James
McKeen Cattell, Charles Spearman, G. Stanley Hall, Charles Judd and Hugo Munsterberg became eminent
psychologists in their own right.

G. Stanley Hall
American psychologist who opened the first psycology lab in America- "Father of Adolescence" studied
the psychological development of children
Man is largely a creature of habit, and many of his activities are more or less
automatic reflexes from the stimuli of his environment. G. Stanely Hall

G. Stanely hall was a well-renowned American psychologist and educator. Born on 1st February 1844, in Ashfield,
Masacheutteus he attended and graduated from Williams college in 1867. After that, he went on to study at the
union theological seminary. He got inspired by the exceptional work ofWilhelm Wundt named as principles of
physiological psychology. He acquired Ph.D in psychology from Harvard University under the supervision of
Professor William James. He has the honor of being awarded with the first doctorate in psychology in America.
He wanted to start his career in academics after graduation but when he graduated there were no vacancy in the
university. Then, he went on to study at the University of Berlin in Europe and worked at the Wundts Laboratory in
1879 for a short span of time. He started off his career as a teacher of philosophy and English at Antioch College in
Ohio. He also taught history of philosophy at Williams College, the same college from where he graduated. He also
has the honor of giving a series of valuable lectures at the prestigious John Hopkins University as well as Harvard
University. Finally, he got successful in securing an academic position at John Hopkins teaching pedagogy and
psychology. Hall also published a book on religious psychology entitled as Jesus, the Christ, in the light of
psychology which presented the information and knowledge about Jesus in psychological terms. He is the pioneer
of the first formal American psychology laboratory.

As an educationist he presented the idea that instead of preparing students for college, the high school should focus
on the development of the mental capacity of students. He opposed and criticized on the traditional teaching style of
the high schools which has handicapped the minds of the adolescents and has also moved them far away from free
learning. He also has the honor of being the first president of APA (American Psychological Association) as well as
the pioneer of American Journal of Psychology. He established Clark University and served as its president for 31
G. Stanley Hall proposed a lot of theories on childhood development and worked significantly on gauging the
numerous effects of the education system on the minds of adolescents. He phrased the terminology storm and
stress in defining the phase of adolescence. According to his propositions a childs mental capabilities develop just
like his forefathers and he inherits their behavior and learning style. He also gave the concept of racial eugenics
which means the genetic characteristics of certain race has an influence on its population intelligence, behavior and
personality traits. Hall has also played a significant role in anomalistic psychology which is the psychology of
behavior of humans and their experiences in connection to some paranormal activities. He was a very significant
contributor to education literature.Aspects of German Culture, Hints toward a Select and Descriptive Bibliography of
Education co-authored with John M. Mansfield and the Contents of Childrens Minds on Entering School are few of
the many books penned down by him. He died on April 24th, 1924.

William James
Founder of functionalism; studied how humans use perception to function in our environment; wrote
first psychology textbook - The Principles of Psychology
William James was an American philosopher and psychologist. He was also a trained physician. James was the first
educator in history to offer a course in psychology in the United States. He once said, The first lecture on
psychology I ever heard being the first I ever gave. He also authored many influential books on the still young and
developing fields of psychology, educational psychology, psychology of religious experience and mysticism, and on
the philosophy of pragmatism.
James was born into a family that encouraged cosmopolitanism in education. His father, Henry James Sr. was a noted
and independently wealthy Swedenborgian theologian. His brother, Henry James was a novelist and their sister Alice
James, a diarist. William James enrolled at the Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard University to pursue an
education in science. In 1864, he began medical studies at Harvard Medical School. Later, in the spring of 1865,
William took a break from studies to join the naturalist, Louis Agassiz on a scientific expedition through the Amazon
However, he had to withdraw from the trip after 8 months due to seasickness and smallpox. He then travelled to
Germany searching for a cure to an illness he encountered in April 1867. It was during this period that he started
publishing his early works. Also during his time in Germany, William James realized that his true interests lay in
psychology and philosophy instead of medicine. Although he finally completed his M.D in 1869, James never
practiced medicine. In 1878, William James married Alice Gibbens.
Spending almost his entire academic career at Harvard, James also took up teaching courses of anatomy, psychology,
physiology and philosophy. He taught at Harvard for 35 years. After retiring from Harvard in 1907, James continued
to write, publish and lecture mostly on Pragmatism, A Pluralistic Universe, and The Meaning of Truth. During his
last years, James suffered cardiac pain. He sought treatment in Europe but they were unsuccessful. On August 26,
1910, William James died of a heart failure. He was buried in the family plot in Cambridge Cemetery, Cambridge,

William James was a huge advocate of the concept of Pragmatism on which he wrote considerably. He believed that
the truth of an idea can never be proven. James proposed we instead focus on what he called the cash value, or
usefulness, of an idea. Opposing structuralism, William James believed in functionalism. He did not agree to the
concepts of introspection and breaking down mental events to the smallest elements but believed in the wholeness of
an event, taking into the impact of the environment on behavior. In addition to this, William James also proposed and
approved the James-Lange Theory of Emotion.
While his contributions to the field of psychology are many, his classic textbooks including The Principles of
Psychology (1890) and Psychology: The Briefer Course (1892) were and still are studied widely by psychology
students all over the world. Many of James students including Mary Whiton Calkins,Edward Thorndike, G. Stanley
Hall and John Dewey all went on to become influential names in the field of psychology.
Herman Ebbinghaus
tested memory and learning habits
Mental states of every kind, sensations, feelings, ideas, which were at one time
present in consciousness and then have disappeared from it, have not with their
disappearance absolutely ceased to exist.- Herman Ebbinghaus
Herman Ebbinghaus was a known German psychologist. He was the pioneer in the experimental
study of memory as well as discovering spacing effect and the forgetting curve. Born on January 24 th,
1850, in Barmen, Germany he was the son of a rich merchant. He acquired his early education from
town gymnasium ant then attended University of Bon in 1867 at the age of 17. He studied philology
and history as his main subjects at this university at which time he became interested in studying
philosophy. He wasnt able continue pursuing philosophy as a proper degree because Franco-Prussian
war broke out. He served in the Prussian army during this war. After serving for a brief time span in
the army, he completed his thesis on Philosophy of The Unconscious. He acquired his doctorate at
the age of 23 on August 16th, 1873. After the completion of his PhD he started tutoring students in
England and France to earn his living.

Herman Ebbinghaus made a profound impact on study of memory and intelligence testing. He used the
experimentation to study higher mental processes. He also studied learning curve and analyzed that maintenance
rehearsal and acoustic encoding should be applied for effective learning though he faced certain limitations in the
process of conducting his ground-breaking research on memory. The major limitation was that he was the only
subject in the study. Naturally, this was an obstacle in studying the trends of the whole population. Also, this was a
major shortcoming in proving the external validity of the study, despite, the fact that it was internally valid.
Ebbinghaus tried to restrict his personal significance to keep the experiment free from biases but failed to do so. This
also proved that it is a tough job to be the researcher as well as the subject at the same time. It is next to impossible
in experimentation to maintain neutrality in this situation. The studies on the learning curve conducted by
Ebbinghaus proved that the learning pattern of individuals showed a sharp decline after their first attempt. An
individuals capacity to retain information begins to slow down after the first trial. The learning curve shows an
exponential increase similar to the forgetting curve. Ebbinghaus also gave the concept of serial position effect which
consists of recency and primacy as its major ideas. The recency effect described the recalling of the latest
information stored in the short term memory, whereas, the primacy effect is related to information retrieval from
long term memory
Ebbinghaus was also the pioneer of sentence completion exercises. It was developed by to gauge the mental abilities
of schoolchildren in sentence structuring. He also discovered optical illusion which occurs due to the relative size
perception. This concept is used in conducting studies on cognitive psychology. Ebbinghaus was an accomplished
psychologist who laid firm foundations for intelligence testing through his ground breaking researches on memory.
He died on February 26th, 1909.

Edward Thorndike
human and animal learning - Law of Effect; provided basis for behaviorism
Edward Lee Thorndike was a well known an American psychologist. Born on 31st August 1874 in Massachusetts,
United States he worked on animal behavior. He has the honor of laying the foundation for modern educational
psychology with the help of his proposed theory on connectionism. Thorndikes theory on learned behavior is
formed on the basis of operant conditioning and classical conditioning. Also, employee exams and testing
comprises of his major works based on solving industrial problems. He served as a member of the board of
psychological corporation, he also has the honor of serving as the president of the prestigious American
Psychological Association.
Edward Thorndike acquired his early education from The Roxbury Latin School. He completed professional degrees
of BS and MA from Wesleyan College and Harvard University, respectively. Animal learning was the main area of
his interest, while studying in Harvard with William James he set up an experiment to study animal learning. For this
experiment he designed a puzzle box and placed the cat in it and the cat was allowed to escape to reach out for the
fish. The cat used to stumble upon the lever first accidently but then it became a learned behavior for it through
pressing the lever repeatedly. He devised the Law of Effect through this experiment. He soon found his interest in
studying man upon which he spent his entire life. He obtained his PhD from Columbia University in 1969. His PhD
thesis was supervised by James McKeen Cattell, the pioneer of psychometrics. He got employed at the College for
women of Case Western Reserve at Cleveland. He was unhappy at his initial job but things became much better and
happier for him when he started teaching psychology at Teachers College in Columbia University. This job worked
wonders for him as he spent a major portion of his career teaching at this university. He studied mental testing,
human learning and education during his lifelong tenure at Columbia University. He was the first psychologist to use
nonhuman subjects in his thesis entitled as Animal Intelligence: An Experimental Study of the Associative
Processes in Animals. He was also known as an expert in designing tests. While working for US Army during
World War he designed the Alpha and Beta versions of tests now known as ASVAB. It is basically a multiple choice
questions conducted under the supervision of United States military entrance processing command used to assess the
qualifications needed to list the eligible candidates for United States Armed Forces.
Edward Thorndike played a remarkable role in contributing to the field of psychology. Animal psychology and
behaviorism are his major fields of accomplishments including many others. He has won prestigious accolades as an
accomplished psychologist including the designation of the president of American Psychological Association as well
as the well deserved membership at National Academy of Arts in 1917. He died on August 9th, 1949.

Mary Whiton Calkins

American psychologist who conducted research on memory, personality, and dreams; first woman
president of the American Psychological Association

Margaret Floy Washburn

American psychologist who studied animal behavior; first woman to receive a Ph.D. in psychology

Charles Darwin
founded biological theory saying behavior had evolved as a response to animals' enviroment

Alfred Binet
created first intelligence test for Parisian school children - created concept of mental age
Alfred Binet, is the psychologist behind the revolutionary concept of Intelligence quotient or IQ . Born on July 8,
1958 in Nice, France, this man spent his early years in the same city and graduated from law college. He identified
his passion for psychology when he wanted to go for medical college but deep in his heart he know that
psychology is more important to him so that decision became a turning point in his life for good. At first he started
learning about psychology on his own by gaining knowledge from the works of Darwin, Mill, Bain and other
notable authors of psychology. He as a worker of French commission developed a scale for gauging the mental age
of children. Also the famous invention Intelligence Quotient is very helpful for children who face hurdles in
understanding their schools curriculum effectively. He then started practicing at Salpetriere hospital in Paris with
John Martin Charcot as his mentor. He got the position of associate director and researcher after serving at
Salpetriere Hospital where he worked as an experimental psychologist. He served at this position till his death.
One of the most notable and fascinating aspect of Binet is that he never studied for a formal degree in psychology
instead he gained more insights into the subject by self-learning. This says a lot about the his passion which led him
to achieve greater heights in the subject.
Alfred Binet joined French government to conduct his studies on child intelligence by gauging their mental
capabilities according to their ages. He, along with his counterpart, Theodore Simon, designed an IQ testing system
which identified the mental strengths and capabilities of a child also the test to compare their mental age with their
chronological or real age. This scale was named Binet-Simon intelligence scale, after the two psychologists Binet
and Simon.
Like everyone else Binet also had his share of failures, when he got his first work published in 1880, it suffered the
fate of plagiarism much to his disappointment. After that misfortune he started his job at Salpetriere hospital in Paris
with Charcot who was trusted a lot by Binet. Together they proposed a theory about perceptual polarization through
testing their findings and ideas about the concept but to their misfortune the theory did not get approval and
recognition and all their hard work went down the drain, this was the major setback faced by him, perhaps he faced
this failure due the lack of formal degree and training in psychology. He did not loss hope though, he learned to use
his failure as a stepping stone to success.
He got married to Edouard-Grard Balbiani, from whom he had two daughters and they proved to be a success for
his career. He conducted studies regarding cognitive processes on them through which the foundations of devising
intelligence tests were laid as he made the concept of intelligence tests around attention span and cognitive
development. His profound works on intelligence tests earned him accolades. He got the much prestigious laureate
award by French Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, as a well Worth Prize Money Award. He was selected as
a member of French biological society in recognition for his notable works in the field of psychobiology. After his
death in 1917 the free society for the psychological study of the child changed their name after Alfred Binet in
recognition for his priceless efforts and contributions to psychology. The free society named itself as La Societe
Alfred Binet. Even after 50 years of his death his works on intelligence tests is appreciated and recognized and is
considered as one of the most momentous developments by Science Mag.

Albert Ellis
Pioneer in Rational-Emotive Therapy (RET), focuses on altering client's patterns of irrational thinking to
reduce maladaptive behavior and emotions
Albert Ellis was an American psychologist acknowledged for the proposition of Rational emotive behavior therapy
(REBT), recognized as one of the greatest psychologists who has influenced the society through his works. He is
honored for theories that go acclaimed as the ground-breakers in the history of modern psychology. His profound
works in the field of Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy and philosophy enjoys a repute of worldly fame and
Born at Pittsburg and raised at New York his childhood was not a bed of roses but he survived through his childhood
smartly. When he was a child he identified his mother having a bipolar disorder but instead of getting all upset over
this issue he tried helping his mother by acting as an adult sibling towards his younger brother and sisters. His
mother and father had an irresponsible attitude towards him and his siblings which made him stand on his own feet
at a very young age having learnt to turn the hurdles and setbacks to opportunities and successes at a pretty tender
age. He wanted to be a novelist but he became a good counselor to his friends with the knowledge he gained and the
problems he solved for friends with the passage of time.
He acquired his university education from City University of New York in 1934 and a Ph.D degree in Clinical
Psychology from Teachers College at Columbia university. There, he received his training as a psychoanalyst. His
interest grew more in clinical psychology with the passage of time. He also realized the effectiveness of
psychotherapy at during course of his degree at Columbia University.
His REBT theory works on the principles of ABC: A stands for activating, B stands to belief and C refers to
consequences. This theory works by triggering painful experiences or troubles in the past or present that are reasons
behind dissatisfaction and unhappiness and beliefs that have or do not have any ground in reality but have become a
part of mind that always creates unhappiness, consequences define depression and extreme anger resulting from
beliefs and triggering of events from past. According to his theory of REBT he suggested that long term unhappiness
caused due to any unpleasant events in the past can be cured by making the unhappy or depressed person realize that
he had his share of successes and accomplishments and he is not a complete failure.
Albert Ellis was inspired by the works well renowned scholars of that time including the likes
of Adler, Horney, Fromm and Harry Sullivan and they played an influential role in Elliss career as a psychologist.
His works withAmerica Psychiatric Association are notable and revolutionary in the field of sexology and turned
over a new page and gave way to american sexual revolution .
He initiated cognitive behavioral therapies which were proved by scientific evidences. The CBT shaped up modern
psychotherapy in many countries and thus helped him gained fame and recognition.
Ellis has enjoyed international repute throughout his professional life. He has large collection of published works and
books to his name. He was entitled with Humanist of the year by the American Humanist Society in recognition of
his profound works in nurturing human minds and freeing them from all kinds of distresses that affects their
emotional well-being.

Gestalt psychology or gestaltism (German: Gestalt "shape, form") is a theory of mind of the Berlin School. The central
principle of gestalt psychology is that the mind forms a global whole with self-organizing tendencies. This principle
maintains that the human mind considers objects in their entirety before, or in parallel with, perception of their individual

parts; suggesting the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Gestalt psychology tries to understand the laws of our
ability to acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world.
In the domain of perception, Gestalt psychologists stipulate that perceptions are the products of complex interactions
among various stimuli. Contrary to the behaviorist approach to understanding the elements of cognitive processes,
gestalt psychologists sought to understand their organization (Carlson and Heth, 2010). The gestalt effect is the
capability of our brain to generate whole forms, particularly with respect to the visual recognition of global figures instead
of just collections of simpler and unrelated elements (points, lines, curves...).
In psychology, gestaltism is often opposed to structuralism. The phrase The whole is other than the sum of the parts is
often used when explaining gestalt theory,[1] though there is a common mistranslation of Kurt Koffka's original phrase to
"The whole is greater than the sum of the parts".[2] Gestalt theory allows for the breakup of elements from the whole
situation into what it really is.[3]

The concept of gestalt was first introduced in philosophy and psychology in 1890 by Christian von Ehrenfels (a member
of the School of Brentano). The idea of gestalt has its roots in theories by David Hume, Johann Wolfgang von
Goethe, Immanuel Kant, David Hartley, and Ernst Mach. Max Wertheimer's unique contribution was to insist that the
"gestalt" is perceptually primary, defining the parts it was composed from, rather than being a secondary quality that
emerges from those parts, as von Ehrenfels's earlier Gestalt-Qualitt had been.
Both von Ehrenfels and Edmund Husserl seem to have been inspired by Mach's work Beitrge zur Analyse der
Empfindungen (Contributions to the Analysis of Sensations, 1886), in formulating their very similar concepts
of gestalt and figural moment, respectively. On the philosophical foundations of these ideas see Foundations of Gestalt
Theory (Smith, ed., 1988).
Early 20th century theorists, such as Kurt Koffka, Max Wertheimer, and Wolfgang Khler (students of Carl Stumpf) saw
objects as perceived within an environment according to all of their elements taken together as a global construct. This
'gestalt' or 'whole form' approach sought to define principles of perceptionseemingly innate mental laws that
determined the way objects were perceived. It is based on the here and now, and in the way things are seen. Images can
be divided into figure or ground. The question is what is perceived at first glance: the figure in front, or the background.
These laws took several forms, such as the grouping of similar, or proximate, objects together, within this global process.
Although gestalt has been criticized for being merely descriptive, it has formed the basis of much further research into the
perception of patterns and objects (Carlson et al. 2000), and of research into behavior, thinking, problem solving and

Gestalt therapy[edit]
The founders of Gestalt therapy, Fritz and Laura Perls, had worked with Kurt Goldstein, a neurologist who had applied
principles of Gestalt psychology to the functioning of the organism. Laura Perls had been a Gestalt psychologist before
she became a psychoanalyst and before she began developing Gestalt therapy together with Fritz Perls. [4] The extent to
which Gestalt psychology influenced Gestalt therapy is disputed, however. In any case it is not identical with Gestalt
psychology. On the one hand, Laura Perls preferred not to use the term "Gestalt" to name the emerging new therapy,
because she thought that the gestalt psychologists would object to it; [5] on the other hand Fritz and Laura Perls clearly
adopted some of Goldstein's work.[6] Thus, though recognizing the historical connection and the influence, most gestalt
psychologists emphasize that gestalt therapy is not a form of gestalt psychology.[7]

Theoretical framework and methodology[edit]

The school of gestalt practiced a series of theoretical and methodological principles that attempted to redefine the
approach to psychological research. This is in contrast to investigations developed at the beginning of the 20th century,

based on traditional scientific methodology, which divided the object of study into a set of elements that could be
analyzed separately with the objective of reducing the complexity of this object.
The theoretical principles are the following:

Principle of TotalityThe conscious experience must be considered globally (by taking into account all the
physical and mental aspects of the individual simultaneously) because the nature of the mind demands that each
component be considered as part of a system of dynamic relationships.

Principle of psychophysical isomorphism A correlation exists between conscious experience

and cerebral activity.

Based on the principles above the following methodological principles are defined:

Phenomenon experimental analysisIn relation to the Totality Principle any psychological research should
take phenomena as a starting point and not be solely focused on sensory qualities.

Biotic experimentThe school of gestalt established a need to conduct real experiments that sharply
contrasted with and opposed classic laboratory experiments. This signified experimenting in natural situations,
developed in real conditions, in which it would be possible to reproduce, with higher fidelity, what would be habitual
for a subject.[8]

Support from cybernetics and neurology[edit]

In the 1940s and 1950s, laboratory research in neurology and what became known as cybernetics on the mechanism of
frogs' eyes indicate that perception of 'gestalts' (in particular gestalts in motion) is perhaps more primitive and
fundamental than 'seeing' as such:
A frog hunts on land by vision... He has no fovea, or region of greatest acuity in vision, upon which he must
center a part of the image... The frog does not seem to see or, at any rate, is not concerned with the detail of
stationary parts of the world around him. He will starve to death surrounded by food if it is not moving. His choice
of food is determined only by size and movement. He will leap to capture any object the size of an insect or
worm, providing it moves like one. He can be fooled easily not only by a piece of dangled meat but by any moving
small object... He does remember a moving thing provided it stays within his field of vision and he is not
distracted.[9] Cyberneticist Valentin Turchin points out that the gestalts observed in what we usually imagine are
'still images' and are exactly the kind of 'moving objects' that make the frog's retina respond:
The lowest-level concepts related to visual perception for a human being probably differ little from the concepts of
a frog. In any case, the structure of the retina in mammals and in human beings is the same as in amphibians.
The phenomenon of distortion of perception of an image stabilized on the retina gives some idea of the concepts
of the subsequent levels of the hierarchy. This is a very interesting phenomenon. When a person looks at an
immobile object, "fixes" it with his eyes, the eyeballs do not remain absolutely immobile; they make small
involuntary movements. As a result the image of the object on the retina is constantly in motion, slowly drifting
and jumping back to the point of maximum sensitivity. The image "marks time" in the vicinity of this point. [10]

The key principles of gestalt systems are emergence, reification, multistability and invariance.[11]

Emergence is the process of complex pattern formation from simpler rules. It is demonstrated by the perception
of the dog picture, which depicts a Dalmatian dog sniffing the ground in the shade of overhanging trees. The dog
is not recognized by first identifying its parts (feet, ears, nose, tail, etc.), and then inferring the dog from those
component parts. Instead, the dog is perceived as a whole, all at once. However, this is a description of what
occurs in vision and not an explanation. Gestalt theory does not explain how the percept of a dog emerges.

See also: Reification (fallacy)


Reification is the constructive or generative aspect of perception, by which the experienced percept contains
more explicit spatial information than the sensory stimulus on which it is based.
For instance, a triangle is perceived in picture A, though no triangle is there. In pictures B and D the eye
recognizes disparate shapes as "belonging" to a single shape, in C a complete three-dimensional shape is seen,
where in actuality no such thing is drawn.
Reification can be explained by progress in the study of illusory contours, which are treated by the visual system
as "real" contours.


the Necker Cube and the Rubin vase, two examples of multistability

Multistability (or multistable perception) is the tendency of ambiguous perceptual experiences to pop back and
forth unstably between two or more alternative interpretations. This is seen for example in the Necker cube, and
in Rubin's Figure/Vase illusion shown here. Other examples include the Three-legged blivet and artist M. C.
Escher's artwork and the appearance of flashing marquee lights moving first one direction and then suddenly the
other. Again, gestalt does not explain how images appear multistable, only that theydo.



Invariance is the property of perception whereby simple geometrical objects are recognized independent of
rotation, translation, and scale; as well as several other variations such as elastic deformations, different lighting,
and different component features. For example, the objects in A in the figure are all immediately recognized as
the same basic shape, which are immediately distinguishable from the forms in B. They are even recognized
despite perspective and elastic deformations as in C, and when depicted using different graphic elements as
in D. Computational theories of vision, such as those by David Marr, have had more success in explaining how
objects are classified.
Emergence, reification, multistability, and invariance are not necessarily separable modules to model individually,
but they could be different aspects of a single unified dynamic mechanism. [citation needed]

Main article: Principles of grouping
The fundamental principle of gestalt perception is the law of prgnanz (in the German language, pithiness),
which says that we tend to order our experience in a manner that is regular, orderly, symmetric, and simple.
Gestalt psychologists attempt to discover refinements of the law of prgnanz, and this involves writing down laws
that, hypothetically, allow us to predict the interpretation of sensation, what are often called "gestalt laws".

These include:

Gestalt laws of grouping[edit]

Law of proximity

Law of similarity

Law of closure

A major aspect of Gestalt psychology is that it implies that the mind understands external stimuli as whole rather
than the sum of their parts. The wholes are structured and organized using grouping laws. The various laws are
called laws or principles, depending on the paper where they appearbut for simplicity's sake, this article uses
the term laws. These laws deal with the sensory modality vision. However, there are analogous laws for other
sensory modalities including auditory, tactile, gustatory and olfactory (Bregman GP). The visual Gestalt
principles of grouping were introduced in Wertheimer (1923). Through the 1930s and '40s Wertheimer, Kohler
and Koffka formulated many of the laws of grouping through the study of visual perception. [13]
Law of ProximityThe law of proximity states that when an individual perceives an assortment of objects they
perceive objects that are close to each other as forming a group. For example, in the figure that illustrates the
Law of proximity, there are 72 circles, but we perceive the collection of circles in groups. Specifically, we perceive
there is a group of 36 circles on the left side of the image, and three groups of 12 circles on the right side of the
image. This law is often used in advertising logos to emphasize which aspects of events are associated. [13][14]
Law of SimilarityThe law of similarity states that elements within an assortment of objects are perceptually
grouped together if they are similar to each other. This similarity can occur in the form of shape, colour, shading
or other qualities. For example, the figure illustrating the law of similarity portrays 36 circles all equal distance
apart from one another forming a square. In this depiction, 18 of the circles are shaded dark and 18 of the circles
are shaded light. We perceive the dark circles as grouped together, and the light circles as grouped together
forming six horizontal lines within the square of circles. This perception of lines is due to the law of similarity.[14]
Law of ClosureThe law of closure states that individuals perceive objects such as shapes, letters, pictures,
etc., as being whole when they are not complete. Specifically, when parts of a whole picture are missing, our
perception fills in the visual gap. Research shows that the reason the mind completes a regular figure that is not
perceived through sensation is to increase the regularity of surrounding stimuli. For example, the figure that
depicts the law of closure portrays what we perceive as a circle on the left side of the image and a rectangle on
the right side of the image. However, gaps are present in the shapes. If the law of closure did not exist, the image
would depict an assortment of different lines with different lengths, rotations, and curvaturesbut with the law of
closure, we perceptually combine the lines into whole shapes.[13][14][15]
Law of SymmetryThe law of symmetry states that the mind perceives objects as being symmetrical and
forming around a center point. It is perceptually pleasing to divide objects into an even number of symmetrical
parts. Therefore, when two symmetrical elements are unconnected the mind perceptually connects them to form
a coherent shape. Similarities between symmetrical objects increase the likelihood that objects are grouped to
form a combined symmetrical object. For example, the figure depicting the law of symmetry shows a
configuration of square and curled brackets. When the image is perceived, we tend to observe three pairs of
symmetrical brackets rather than six individual brackets.[13][14]
Law of Common FateThe law of common fate states that objects are perceived as lines that move along the
smoothest path. Experiments using the visual sensory modality found that movement of elements of an object
produce paths that individuals perceive that the objects are on. We perceive elements of objects to have trends
of motion, which indicate the path that the object is on. The law of continuity implies the grouping together of
objects that have the same trend of motion and are therefore on the same path. For example, if there are an
array of dots and half the dots are moving upward while the other half are moving downward, we would perceive
the upward moving dots and the downward moving dots as two distinct units. [16]
Law of ContinuityThe law of continuity states that elements of objects tend to be grouped together, and
therefore integrated into perceptual wholes if they are aligned within an object. In cases where there is an

intersection between objects, individuals tend to perceive the two objects as two single uninterrupted entities.
Stimuli remain distinct even with overlap. We are less likely to group elements with sharp abrupt directional
changes as being one object.[13]
Law of Good GestaltThe law of good gestalt explains that elements of objects tend to be perceptually
grouped together if they form a pattern that is regular, simple, and orderly. This law implies that as individuals
perceive the world, they eliminate complexity and unfamiliarity so they can observe a reality in its most simplistic
form. Eliminating extraneous stimuli helps the mind create meaning. This meaning created by perception implies
a global regularity, which is often mentally prioritized over spatial relations. The law of good gestalt focuses on
the idea of conciseness, which is what all of gestalt theory is based on. This law has also been called the law of
Prgnanz.[13] Prgnanz is a German word that directly translates to mean "pithiness" and implies the ideas of
salience, conciseness and orderliness.[16]
Law of Past ExperienceThe law of past experience implies that under some circumstances visual stimuli are
categorized according to past experience. If two objects tend to be observed within close proximity, or small
temporal intervals, the objects are more likely to be perceived together. For example, the English language
contains 26 letters that are grouped to form words using a set of rules. If an individual reads an English word
they have never seen, they use the law of past experience to interpret the letters "L" and "I" as two letters beside
each other, rather than using the law of closure to combine the letters and interpret the object as an uppercase
The gestalt laws of grouping have recently been subjected to modern methods of scientific evaluation by
examining the visual cortex using cortical algorithms. Current Gestalt psychologists have described their findings,
which showed correlations between physical visual representations of objects and self-report perception as the
laws of seeing.[16]

Gestalt views in psychology[edit]

Gestalt psychologists find it is important to think of problems as a whole. Max Wertheimer considered thinking to
happen in two ways: productive and reproductive. [12]
Productive thinking is solving a problem with insight.
This is a quick insightful unplanned response to situations and environmental interaction.
Reproductive thinking is solving a problem with previous experiences and what is already known. (1945/1959).
This is a very common thinking. For example, when a person is given several segments of information,
he/she deliberately examines the relationships among its parts, analyzes their purpose, concept, and totality,
he/she reaches the "aha!" moment, using what is already known. Understanding in this case
happens intentionally by reproductive thinking.
Another gestalt psychologist, Perkins, believes insight deals with three processes:
1. Unconscious leap in thinking.[12]
2. The increased amount of speed in mental processing.
3. The amount of short-circuiting that occurs in normal reasoning.[17]
Views going against the gestalt psychology are:
1. Nothing-special view
2. Neo-gestalt view

3. The Three-Process View

Gestalt psychology should not be confused with the gestalt therapy of Fritz Perls, which is only peripherally
linked to gestalt psychology. A strictly gestalt psychology-based therapeutic method is Gestalt Theoretical
Psychotherapy, developed by the German gestalt psychologist and psychotherapist Hans-Jrgen Walter.

Fuzzy-trace theory[edit]
Fuzzy-trace theory, a dual process model of memory and reasoning, was also derived from Gestalt Psychology.
Fuzzy-trace theory posits that we encode information into two separate traces: verbatim and gist. Information
stored in verbatim is exact memory for detail (the individual parts of a pattern, for example) while information
stored in gist is semantic and conceptual (what we perceive the pattern to be). The effects seen in Gestalt
psychology can be attributed to the way we encode information as gist. [18]

Gestalt and Design[edit]

Composition showing the Gestalt Principles, graphic design (Gestalt Educational Program, 2011).

Central motif from theBauhaus logo, 192122

Gestalt in the Eye, digital montage, 2011

Uses in humancomputer interaction[edit]

The gestalt laws are used in user interface design. The laws of similarity and proximity can, for example, be used
as guides for placing radio buttons. They may also be used in designing computers and software for more
intuitive human use. Examples include the design and layout of a desktop's shortcuts in rows and columns.
Gestalt psychology also has applications in computer vision for trying to make computers "see" the same things
as humans do.[19]

Quantum cognition modeling[edit]

Main article: Quantum cognition Gestalt perception
Similarities between Gestalt phenomena and quantum mechanics have been pointed out by, among others,
chemist Anton Amann, who commented that "similarities between Gestalt perception and quantum mechanics
are on a level of a parable" yet may give useful insight nonetheless. Physicist Elio Conte and co-workers have
proposed abstract, mathematical models to describe the time dynamics of cognitive associations with
mathematical tools borrowed from quantum mechanics[20][21] and has discussed psychology experiments in this
context. A similar approach has been suggested by physicists David Bohm, Basil Hiley and philosopher Paavo
Pylkknen with the notion that mind and matter both emerge from an "implicate order".[22][23] The models involve
non-commutative mathematics; such models account for situations in which the outcome of two measurements
performed one after the other can depend on the order in which they are performeda pertinent feature for
psychological processes, as it is obvious that an experiment performed on a conscious person may influence the
outcome of a subsequent experiment by changing the state of mind of that person.

In some scholarly communities, such as cognitive psychology and computational neuroscience, gestalt theories
of perception are criticized for being descriptive rather thanexplanatory in nature. For this reason, they are
viewed by some as redundant or uninformative. For example, Bruce, Green & Georgeson[24] conclude the
following regarding gestalt theory's influence on the study of visual perception:
The physiological theory of the gestaltists has fallen by the wayside, leaving us with a set of descriptive
principles, but without a model of perceptual processing. Indeed, some of their "laws" of perceptual organisation
today sound vague and inadequate. What is meant by a "good" or "simple" shape, for example?

Jerome Seymour Bruner is a well-known psychologist who has made immensely meaningful
contributions to cognitive learning theory and human cognitive psychology in the field of educational
psychology. His other fields of interest include general philosophy of education as well as history.
Born on 1stOctober, 1915 in New York, he did B.A in psychology from Duke University. After that, he
completed masters degree in psychology followed by a doctorate degree from Harvard University.
Jerome Bruners first article was published in 1939 which discussed the effect of thymus on the rats
behavior. His academic career started as a professor of psychology at the Harvard University where
he served as an ardent researcher in the fields of educational and cognitive psychology. After serving
at Harvard for 15 years he was offered to teach at University of Oxford in England. He accepted the
offer and taught there for ten years. He came back to the United States to conduct researches in the
field of developmental psychology in 1980. After that, he got an opportunity to join the faculty at the
prestigious New York University. He still teaches at the university.

Bruner is one of the most influential psychologists who has laid the foundation for ground-breaking researches in
cognitive psychology. He identified that sensation and perception are active processes rather than passive ones
conducting a series of experiments on perception which posed a challenge to psychologists in terms of interpreting
the organisms response to stimulus externally as well as internally. The obvious result of cognitive development is
thinking. The intelligent mind creates itself from experience generic coding systems that permit one to go beyond
the data to new and possibly fruitful predictions (Bruner, 1957, p. 234). Bruner presented the view that children
must adapt to the recurrent regularities present in their surroundings. So, according to Bruner the significant

outcomes of learning must incorporate the ability to adapt and learn through personal experiences in an individual
besides the formal education. After working on these experiments he shifted his attention and time towards studying
actual cognitions in the perception studies. Bruner presented his research that sheds light on the cognitive
development of children in 1966 which suggests three phases of representation in cognitive development.
He has awarded with many awards and honors in recognition of his profound works in the field of psychology. Most
prominently, he was awarded with distinguished scientific research award by the American Psychological
Association. He has also published numerous books that reflect his varied accomplishments as a researcher and
psychologist. His literary works consist of several books on cognitive psychology, educational psychology and
language development. Currently he is serving as a research fellow at the New York University School of Law.

The good man is the man who, no matter how morally unworthy he has been, is moving to become
better.- John Dewey

John Dewey was a well-known American psychologist, western philosopher as well as an education reformer whose
ideology is of exceptional significance in the social and educational reforms. He was one who laid down the
foundation for the development of functional psychology. Also, he was a significant representative of the liberalism
and progressive educational philosophy. Born on October 20th, 1859 in Burlington, Vermont he attended and
graduated from the University of Vermont in 1879. After that, he served as a teacher at a high school in oil city in
Pennsylvania. He completed PhD. from the School of Arts & Sciences at Johns Hopkins University and later
accepted a position as faculty at the University of Michigan with the assistance of George Sylvester Morris. His
unpublished and missing dissertation was entitled as The Psychology of Kant. After serving there for ten years,
Dewey joined University of Chicago. He served at the university till 1904.
John Dewey was a reflective thinker. The major locus of Deweys philosophical pursuits throughout his research
career was epistemology. This subject of philosophy is alternatively known as theory of knowledge. John Dewey was
the foremost proponent of the American school of thought known as pragmatism. It is an ideology that dismisses the
theory of dualistic epistemology as well as metaphysics concerning modern philosophy in approval of a naturalistic
approach. The naturalistic approach viewed knowledge as coming from an active transformation of the human
species to their environment. According to this view, a person should inquire about his environment and observe the
world actively to drawing ideas and check if their ideas correspond to reality or not. The naturalistic approach is a
process which starts off with a check or an impediment to fruitful human action, proceeds to active manipulation of
the environment to test hypotheses. After the hypothesis is tested a re-adaptation of organism is issued to actively
participate in the environment that permits once again for the beginning of human action. John Dewey designed and
developed a wide body of work that encompasses virtually all of the major areas of philosophical concern of his
time, with this ideology as his beginning point. He also wrote extensively on social issues in popular publications
such as the New Republic, eventually gaining a distinction of being a top-notch social commentator.
John Dewey earned notable honors due to his flawless works in various fields. There is a school in Brooklyn named
after him known as John Dewey High School. There is another charter school named after him known as the John
Dewey Academy of Learning in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Dewey published several books and researches in the fields
of psychology, philosophy and education. This great intellectual left the world on June 1st, 1952 at the age of 92.
Born on 9 January 1878 in North-Carolina, John Broadus Watson was an American psychologist who
popularized behaviorism as an approach to psychology. As a student, Watson was not particularly
gifted having been through a rough childhood after his father left him. His teacher, Gordon Moore, at
Furman University helped him get his life back together. John moved on to University of Chicago for
his doctorate. At that time, University of Chicago was a hotbed of psychology and this was where the
foundation for Johns ideas about behaviorism was laid. He studied philosophy with giants like John

Dewey, Moore and Tufts and became interested with psychology and animal behavior. Watson wanted
to transform psychology into a science; he wanted to introduce a methodology that would make it
more exact. After completing his PhD, he was offered a faculty position at the prestigious John
Hopkins University where he was elevated to the chair of psychology department.

In 1913, John Watson published an article Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It. In it he argued that psychology
had become stagnant because the psychologists were focusing at inappropriate subject matters: introspection and
consciousness. He proposed objective psychology of behavior that studied peoples actions or behavior and the
ability to predict and manipulate it. The article came to be known as The Behaviorist Manifesto. Watson believed
behaviorism would take psychology to the same level as other sciences. He maintained that external behavior and
reaction to a particular stimuli, rather than internal mental state, provided an insight into a persons actions. Although
the article did little to sway conventional psychologists, it paved way for further development in the field.
In his early ears, Watson studied behavior of animals. Later, he turned to human behavior and emotions. One of his
most controversial experiments is the Little Albert where he conditioned an 11 month old boy to fear a white rat by
accompanying the rat with a loud clanging sound every time. The experiment was morally objectionable because the
child was never deconditioned. The result of the study would have strengthened Watsons theories but it came to
light that Albert portrayed as a young, healthy boy was in fact mentally ill. Questions arose whether Watson knew
the childs disabilities would skew the result.
In 1915, John Watson served as the president of American Psychological Association (APA) and in 1957, he was
awarded APAs award for contribution to psychology. By 1930s, Behaviorism became the dominant approach to
psychology. However, by then it was too late for John Watson who, in 1920, was caught having an affair with one of
his students and was forced to resign from his post at John Hopkins. After leaving academia, John started working in
an advertising agency where he applied his theories of Behaviorism and quickly rose to the ranks of vice-presidency
at the agency. Although by 1950, Behaviorism began to lose its hold on psychology but some of it ideas and
principles are used even today. Conditioning is still very popular for treatment of destructive behavior and to learn
new skills.

What is Metaphysics?
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy responsible for the study of existence. It is the foundation of a worldview. It answers the question
"What is?" It encompasses everything that exists, as well as the nature of existence itself. It says whether the world is real, or merely an
illusion. It is a fundamental view of the world around us.
Why is Metaphysics important?
Metaphysics is the foundation of philosophy. Without an explanation or an interpretation of the world around us, we would be helpless to
deal with reality. We could not feed ourselves, or act to preserve our lives. The degree to which our metaphysical worldview is correct is the
degree to which we are able to comprehend the world, and act accordingly. Without this firm foundation, all knowledge becomes suspect.
Any flaw in our view of reality will make it more difficult to live.

What are the key elements of a rational metaphysics?

Reality is absolute. It has a specific nature independent of our thoughts or feelings. The world around us is real. It has a specific nature and it
must be consistent to that nature. A proper metaphysical worldview must aim to understand reality correctly.
The physical world exists, and every entity has a specific nature. It acts according to that nature. When different entities interact, they do so
according to the nature of both. Every action has a cause and an effect. Causality is the means by which change occurs, but the change
occurs via a specific nature.
What is Epistemology?:
Epistemology is the investigation into the grounds and nature of knowledge itself. The study of epistemology focuses on our
means for acquiring knowledge and how we can differentiate between truth and falsehood. Modern epistemology generally
involves a debate between rationalism and empiricism, or the question of whether knowledge can be acquired a priori or a
Empiricism: knowledge is obtained through experience.
Rationalism: knowledge can be acquired through the use of reason.

Why is Epistemology Important?:

Epistemology is important because it is fundamental to how we think. Without some means of understanding how we acquire
knowledge, how we rely upon our senses, and how we develop concepts in our minds, we have no coherent path for our
thinking. A sound epistemology is necessary for the existence of sound thinking and reasoning this is why so much
philosophical literature can involve seemingly arcane discussions about the nature of knowledge. Unfortunately, atheists who
frequently debate questions that derive from differences in how people approach knowledge aren't always familiar with this
Why Does Epistemology Matter to Atheism?:
Many debates between atheist and theists revolve around fundamental issues which people don't recognize or never get
around to discussing. Many of these are epistemological in nature: in disagreeing about whether it's reasonable to believe in the
existence of god, to believe in miracles, to accept revelation and scriptures as authoritative, and so forth, atheists and theists
are ultimately disagreeing about basic epistemological principles. Without understanding this and understanding the various
epistemological positions, people will just end up talking past each other.

Epistemology, Truth, and Why We Believe What We Believe:

Atheists and theists differ in what they believe: theists believe in some god, atheists do not. Although their reasons for believing
or not believing vary, it's common for atheists and theists to also differ in what they consider to be appropriate criteria for truth
and, therefor, the proper criteria for a reasonable belief. Theists commonly rely upon criteria like tradition, custom, revelation,
faith, and intuition. Atheists common reject these criteria in favor of correspondence, coherence, and consistency. Without
discussing these different approaches, debates over what ones believes are unlikely to go very far.

Axiology (from Greek , axi, "value, worth"; and -, -logos) is the philosophical study of value. It is either the collective
term for ethics and aesthetics[1]philosophical fields that depend crucially on notions of valueor the foundation for these
fields, and thus similar to value theory and meta-ethics. The term was first used by Paul Lapie, in 1902, [2] andEduard von
Hartmann, in 1908.[3][4]
Axiology studies mainly two kinds of values: ethics and aesthetics. Ethics investigates the concepts of "right" and "good" in
individual and social conduct. Aesthetics studies the concepts of "beauty" and "harmony." Formal axiology, the attempt to lay
out principles regarding value with mathematical rigor, is exemplified by Robert S. Hartman's Science of Value. Studies of both
kinds are found in Cultura: International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology.

Between the 5th and 6th century B.C., it was important in Greece to be knowledgeable if you were to be successful.
Philosophers began to recognize that differences existed between the laws and morality of society. Socrates held the belief that
knowledge had a vital connection to virtue, making morality and democracy closely intertwined. Socrates' student, Plato
furthered the belief by establishing virtues which should be followed by all. With the fall of the government, values became
individual, causing skeptic schools of thought to flourish, ultimately shaping a pagan philosophy that is thought to have
influenced and shaped Christianity. During these medieval times, Aquinas argued for a separation between natural and
religious virtues. This concept led philosophers to distinguish between judgments based on fact and judgments based on
values, creating division between science and philosophy.[5]
Axiological issues in communication studies[edit]
Communication theorists seek to contribute to mutual intelligence about the anatomy and operation of human communication.
The axiological issues that are significant for the evolution of communication theory are whether research can be truly free of
value and whether the end for the administered research should be designed to expand knowledge or to change society. For
communication theorists, a primary interest is with the philosophical establishment of the research approach. A continuing value
debate occurs between scholars who comply with a conventional scientific approach and those who take
an interpretivist approach to communication development.[6]
Those who take a conventional scientific approach believe that research must be free of values in order to be valid. Therefore,
it is necessary for the scientist to approach their research in a neutral and objective manner. In contrast, the interpretivists
argue that it is impossible for research to be completely free of personal values, as research is always biased towards the
values of the researcher. According to interpretivists, these biases are sometimes so entrenched in the researcher's culture that
they will most likely go unnoticed during research. Since no one can truly be unbiased, some groups are more knowledgeable
about certain things than other groups due to their positions in society, and they can be considered more qualified to perform
research on certain topics as a result.[7]
Characteristics of a Collaborative Classroom
Collaborative classrooms seem to have four general characteristics. The first two capture changing relationships between
teachers and students. The third characterizes teachers' new approaches to instruction. The fourth addresses the composition
of a collaborative classroom.
1. Shared knowledge among teachers and students
In traditional classrooms, the dominant metaphor for teaching is the teacher as information giver; knowledge flows only one
way from teacher to student. In contrast, the metaphor for collaborative classrooms is shared knowledge. The teacher has vital
knowledge about content, skills, and instruction, and still provides that information to students. However, collaborative teachers
also value and build upon the knowledge, personal experiences, language, strategies, and culture that students bring to the
learning situation.
Consider a lesson on insect-eating plants, for example. Few students, and perhaps few teachers, are likely to have direct
knowledge about such plants. Thus, when those students who do have relevant experiences are given an opportunity to share
them, the whole class is enriched. Moreover, when students see that their experiences and knowledge are valued, they are
motivated to listen and learn in new ways, and they are more likely to make important connections between their own learning
and "school" learning. They become empowered. This same phenomenon occurs when the knowledge parents and other
community members have is valued and used within the school.
Additionally, complex thinking about difficult problems, such as world hunger, begs for multiple ideas about causes,
implications, and potential solutions. In fact, nearly all of the new curricular goals are of this nature--for example, mathematical
problem-solving--as are new requirements to teach topics such as AIDS. They require multiple ways to represent and solve
problems and many perspectives on issues.
2. Shared authority among teachers and students
In collaborative classrooms, teachers share authority with students in very specific ways. In most traditional classrooms, the
teacher is largely, if not exclusively, responsible for setting goals, designing learning tasks, and assessing what is learned.
Collaborative teachers differ in that they invite students to set specific goals within the framework of what is being taught,
provide options for activities and assignments that capture different student interests and goals, and encourage students to
assess what they learn. Collaborative teachers encourage students' use of their own knowledge, ensure that students share
their knowledge and their learning strategies, treat each other respectfully, and focus on high levels of understanding. They help

students listen to diverse opinions, support knowledge claims with evidence, engage in critical and creative thinking, and
participate in open and meaningful dialogue.
Suppose, for example, the students have just read a chapter on colonial America and are required to prepare a product on the
topic. While a more traditional teacher might ask all students to write a ten-page essay, the collaborative teacher might ask
students to define the product themselves. Some could plan a videotape; some could dramatize events in colonial America;
others could investigate original sources that support or do not support the textbook chapter and draw comparisons among
them; and some could write a ten-page paper. The point here is twofold: (1 ) students have opportunities to ask and investigate
questions of personal interest, and (2) they have a voice in the decision-making process. These opportunities are essential for
both self-regulated learning and motivation.
3. Teachers as mediators
As knowledge and authority are shared among teachers and students, the role of the teacher increasingly emphasizes
mediated learning. Successful mediation helps students connect new information to their experiences and to learning in other
areas, helps students figure out what to do when they are stumped, and helps them learn how to learn. Above all, the teacher
as mediator adjusts the level of information and support so as to maximize the ability to take responsibility for learning. This
characteristic of collaborative classrooms is so important, we devote a whole section to it below.
4. Heterogeneous groupings of students
The perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds of all students are important for enriching learning in the classroom. As
learning beyond the classroom increasingly requires understanding diverse perspectives, it is essential to provide students
opportunities to do this in multiple contexts in schools. In collaborative classrooms where students are engaged in a thinking
curriculum, everyone learns from everyone else, and no student is deprived of this opportunity for making contributions and
appreciating the contributions of others.
Thus, a critical characteristic of collaborative classrooms is that students are not segregated according to supposed ability,
achievement, interests, or any other characteristic. Segregation seriously weakens collaboration and impoverishes the
classroom by depriving all students of opportunities to learn from and with each other. Students we might label unsuccessful in
a traditional classroom learn from "brighter" students, but, more importantly, the so-called brighter students have just as much
to learn from their more average peers. Teachers beginning to teach collaboratively often express delight when they observe
the insights revealed by their supposedly weaker students.
Thus, shared knowledge and authority, mediated learning, and heterogeneous groups of students are essential characteristics
of collaborative classrooms. These characteristics, which are elaborated below, necessitate new roles for teachers and
students that lead to interactions different from those in more traditional classrooms.
Teacher Roles in a Collaborative Classroom
Across this nation, teachers are defining their roles in terms of mediating learning through dialogue and collaboration. While
mediation has been defined in different ways by Reuven Feuerstein, Lev Vygotsky and others, we define mediation here as
facilitating, modeling, and coaching. Most teachers engage in these practices from time to time. What is important here is that
these behaviors (1) drive instruction in collaborative classrooms, and (2) have specific purposes in collaborative contexts.
Facilitator Facilitating involves creating rich environments and activities for linking new information to prior knowledge,
providing opportunities for collaborative work and problem solving, and offering students a multiplicity of authentic learning
tasks. This may first involve attention to the physical environment. For example, teachers move desks so that all students can
see each other, thus establishing a setting that promotes true discussion. Teacher may also wish to move their desks from the
front of the room to a less prominent space.
Additionally, teachers may structure the resources in the classroom to provide a diversity of genres and perspectives, to use
and build upon cultural artifacts from the students' homes and communities, and to organize various learning activities. Thus, a
collaborative classroom often has a multiplicity of projects or activity centers using everyday objects for representing numerical
information in meaningful ways and for conducting experiments that solve real problems. These classrooms also boast a rich
variety of magazines, journals, newspapers, audiotapes, and videos which allow students to experience and use diverse media
for communicating ideas. In Video Conference 1, for example, students were shown investigating science concepts using
everyday materials, such as paper and straw, found in their neighborhoods.
Facilitating in collaborative classrooms also involves people. Inside the classroom, students are organized into heterogeneous
groups with roles such as Team Leader, Encourager, Reteller, Recorder, and Spokesperson. (See Elizabeth Cohen's work for
further elaboration.) Additionally, collaborative teachers work to involve parents and community members. Examples are: A
workshop center in New York invites parents to come and experience the thinking processes involved in conducting
experiments using everyday objects so that they can provide such learning experiences at home (Video Conference 1);
teachers in Tucson involve parents and the community in academic tasks their students engage in (Video Conference 3), and
rural students in Colorado perform community services such as producing a local newspaper (Video Conference 5).
Another way that teachers facilitate collaborative learning is to establish classrooms with diverse and flexible social structures
that promote the sort of classroom behavior they deem appropriate for communication and collaboration among students.
These structures are rules and standards of behaviors, fulfilling several functions in group interaction, and influencing group

attitudes. Particular rules depend, of course, on the classroom context. Thus, teachers often develop them collaboratively with
students and review or change them as needed. Examples of rules are giving all members a chance to participate, valuing
others' comments, and arguing against (or for) ideas rather than people. Examples of group functions are: asking for
information, clarifying, summarizing, encouraging, and relieving tension. To facilitate high quality group interaction, teachers
may need to teach, and students may need to practice, rules and functions for group interaction.
Finally, teachers facilitate collaborative learning by creating learning tasks that encourage diversity, but which aim at high
standards of performance for all students. These tasks involve students in high-level thought processes such as decision
making and problem solving that are best accomplished in collaboration. These tasks enable students to make connections to
real-world objects, events, and situations in their own and an expanded world, and tap their diverse perspectives and
experiences. Learning tasks foster students' confidence and at the same time, are appropriately challenging.
Model Modeling has been emphasized by many local and state guidelines as sharing one's thinking and demonstrating or
explaining something. However, in collaborative classrooms, modeling serves to share with students not only what one is
thinking about the content to be learned, but also the process of communication and collaborative learning. Modeling may
involve thinking aloud (sharing thoughts about something) or demonstrating (showing students how to do something in a stepby-step fashion).
In terms of content, teachers might verbalize the thinking processes they use to make a prediction about a scientific
experiment, to summarize ideas in a passage, to figure out the meaning of an unfamiliar word, to represent and solve a
problem, to organize complicated information, and so on. Just as important, they would also think aloud about their doubts and
uncertainties. This type of metacognitive thinking and thinking aloud when things do not go smoothly is invaluable in helping
students understand that learning requires effort and is often difficult for people.
With respect to group process, teachers may share their thinking about the various roles, rules, and relationships in
collaborative classrooms. Consider leadership, for example. A teacher might model what he or she thinks about such questions
as how to manage the group's time or how to achieve consensus. Similarly, showing students how to think through tough group
situations and problems of communication is as invaluable as modeling how to plan an approach to an academic problem,
monitoring its progress, and assessing what was learned.
A major challenge in mediating learning is to determine when it is appropriate to model by thinking aloud and when it is useful
to model by demonstrating. If a teacher is certain that students have little experience with, say, a mathematical procedure, then
it may be appropriate to demonstrate it before students engage in a learning task. (This is not to say that the teacher assumes
or states that there is only one way to perform the procedure. It is also important to allow for individual variations in application.)
If, on the other hand, the teacher believes students can come up with the procedure themselves, then he or she might elect to
ask the students to model how they solved the problem; alternatively the teacher could give students hints or cues. (See
Coach Coaching involves giving hints or cues, providing feedback, redirecting students' efforts, and helping them use a
strategy. A major principle of coaching is to provide the right amount of help when students need it--neither too much nor too
little so that students retain as much responsibility as possible for their own learning.
For example, a collaborative group of junior high students worked on the economic development of several nations. They
accumulated a lot of information about the countries and decided that the best way to present it was to compare the countries.
But they were stymied as to how to organize the information so they could write about it in a paper, the product they chose to
produce. Their teacher hinted that they use a matrix--a graphic organizer they had learned--to organize their information. When
the group finished the matrix, the teacher gave them feedback. In so doing, he did not tell them it was right or wrong, but asked
questions that helped them verbalize their reasons for completing the matrix as they did. The principle the teacher followed was
to coach enough so that students could continue to learn by drawing on the ideas of other group members.
Student Roles in a Collaborative Classroom
Students also assume new roles in the collaborative classroom. Their major roles are collaborator and active participator. It is
useful to think how these new roles influence the processes and activities students conduct before, during, and after learning.
For example, before learning, students set goals and plan learning tasks; during learning, they work together to accomplish
tasks and monitor their progress; and after learning, they assess their performance and plan for future learning. As mediator,
the teacher helps students fulfill their new roles.
Goal setting Students prepare for learning in many ways. Especially important is goal setting, a critical process that helps
guide many other before-, during-, and and after-learning activities. Although teachers still set goals for students, they often
provide students with choices. When students collaborate, they should talk about their goals. For example, one teacher asked
students to set goals for a unit on garbage. In one group, a student wanted to find out if garbage is a problem, another wanted
to know what happens to garbage, a third wanted to know what is being done to solve the problem of garbage. The fourth
member could not think of a goal, but agreed that the first three were important and adopted them. These students became
more actively involved in the unit after their discussion about goals, and at the end of the unit, could better evaluate whether
they had attained them.

Designing Learning Tasks and Monitoring While teachers plan general learning tasks, for example, to produce a product to
illustrate a concept, historical sequence, personal experience, and so on, students assume much more responsibility in a
collaborative classroom for planning their own learning activities. Ideally, these plans derive in part from goals students set for
themselves. Thoughtful planning by the teacher ensures that students can work together to attain their own goals and capitalize
on their own abilities, knowledge, and strategies within the parameters set by the teacher. Students are more likely to engage in
these tasks with more purpose and interest than in traditional classrooms.
Self-regulated learning is important in collaborative classrooms. Students learn to take responsibility for monitoring, adjusting,
self-questioning, and questioning each other. Such self-regulating activities are critical for students to learn today, and they are
much better learned within a group that shares responsibility for learning. Monitoring is checking one's progress toward goals.
Adjusting refers to changes students make, based on monitoring, in what they are doing to reach their goals. For example, a
group of students decided that the sources of information on the Civil War they selected initially were not as useful as they had
hoped, so they selected new materials. Another group judged that the paper they had planned to write would not accomplish
what they thought it would the way they had organized it, so they planned a new paper.
Students can further develop their self-regulating abilities when each group shares its ideas with other groups and gets
feedback from them. For example, in the first video conference, elementary students were shown collaborating in small groups
to define and represent math problems. Working in small groups, the children determined what was being asked in story
problems and thought of ways to solve the problems. Then each group shared its ideas with the whole class. Members of the
class commented on the ideas. As students developed problem-solving skills with feedback from other groups, they learned
more about regulating their own learning which they could use in the future.
Assessment While teachers have assumed the primary responsibility for assessing students' performance in the past,
collaborative classrooms view assessment much more broadly. That is, a major goal is to guide students from the earliest
school years to evaluate their own learning. Thus, a new responsibility is self-assessment, a capability that is fostered as
students assess group work.
Self-assessment is intimately related to ongoing monitoring of one's progress toward achievement of learning goals. In a
collaborative classroom, assessment means more than just assigning a grade. It means evaluating whether one has learned
what one intended to learn, the effectiveness of learning strategies, the quality of products and decisions about which products
reflect one's best work, the usefulness of the materials used in a task, and whether future learning is needed and how that
learning might be realized.
Collaborative classrooms are natural places in which to learn self-assessment. And because decisions about materials and
group performance are shared, students feel more free to express doubts, feelings of success, remaining questions, and
uncertainties than when they are evaluated only by a teacher. Furthermore, the sense of cooperation (as opposed to
competition) that is fostered in collaborative work makes assessment less threatening than in a more traditional assessment
situation. Ideally, students learn to evaluate their own learning from their experiences with group evaluation.
Interactions in a Collaborative Classroom
The critical role of dialogue in collaborative classrooms has been stressed throughout this Guidebook The collaborative
classroom is alive with two-way communication. A major mode of communication is dialogue, which in a collaborative
classroom is thinking made public. A major goal for teachers is to maintain this dialogue among students.
Consider examples of interactions in collaborative groups. Members discuss their approaches to solving a math problem,
explain their reasoning, and defend their work. Hearing one student's logic prompts the other students to consider an
alternative interpretation. Students are thus challenged to re-examine their own reasoning. When three students in a group ask
a fourth student to explain and support her ideas, that is, to make her thinking public, she frequently examines and develops
her concepts for herself as she talks. When one student has an insight about how to solve a difficult problem, the others in the
group learn how to use a new thinking strategy sooner than if they had worked on their own. Thus, students engaged in
interaction often exceed what they can accomplish by working independently.
Collaborative teachers maintain the same sort of high-level talk and interaction when a whole class engages in discussion.
They avoid recitation, which consists primarily of reviewing, drilling, and quizzing; i.e., asking questions to which the answer is
known by the teacher and there is only one right answer. In true discussion, students talk to each other as well as to the
teacher, entertain a variety of points of view, and grapple with questions that have no right or wrong answers. Sometimes both
students and the teacher change their minds about an idea. In sum, interactions in whole group discussion mirror what goes on
in small groups.
Still a third way interactions differ in collaborative classrooms has been suggested above. Teachers, in their new roles as
mediators, spend more time in true interactions with students. They guide students' search for information and help them share
their own knowledge. They move from group to group, modeling a learning strategy for one group, engaging in discussion with
another, giving feedback to still another.
Challenges and Conflicts
When teachers and schools move from traditional to collaborative instruction, several important issues are likely to arise. They
are important concerns for teachers, administrators, and parents.

Classroom Control Collaborative classrooms tend to be noisier than traditional classrooms. This is a legitimate issue for a
number of people. Some teachers believe that noisy classrooms indicate lack of discipline or teacher control. In such situations,
they argue, students cannot learn.
Earlier in this essay we stressed that collaborative classrooms do not lack structure. Indeed, structure becomes critical.
Students need opportunities to move about, talk, ask questions, and so on. Thus, we argue that the noise in a smoothly running
collaborative classroom indicates that active learning is going on. However, students must be taught the parameters within
which they make their choices. Rules and standards must be stressed from the beginning, probably before any collaboration is
initiated, and reviewed throughout a school year.
Preparation Time for Collaborative Learning Teachers and administrators may believe that new lesson plans must be
formed for these classrooms. To a certain extent, they are correct. But many teachers already have created engaging units and
activities that are easily implemented in a collaborative classroom. Furthermore, teachers can begin slowly, making changes in
one subject area or unit within a subject area, probably one they are already very comfortable teaching, and then add other
subjects and units. Teachers can also share their plans with each other. Indeed, if we expect students to collaborate, we should
encourage teachers to do the same! Principals and curriculum specialists can also collaborate with teachers to plan effective
segments of instruction. Moreover, there is a tradeoff between the extra planning time needed and benefits such as less time
correcting lessons, increased student motivation, and fewer attendance and discipline problems.
Individual Differences Among Students We have touched on this concern in the section on heterogeneous grouping.
Nevertheless, many people will still doubt that individual differences can be better addressed in collaborative classrooms than
in traditional classrooms with homogeneous grouping.
A major question people have concerns the advantage collaboration affords gifted or high-achieving students. There are two
tough issues here. First, many teachers do not believe that low-achieving students have much to contribute to the learning
situation; in effect, that they have no prior experiences or knowledge of value. Second, teachers worry that high-achieving
students will be held back.
In response to the first issue, many collaborative teachers have expressed surprise when seemingly less-able students had
insights and ideas that went way beyond what teachers expected. Further, if each student contributes something, the pool of
collective knowledge will indeed be rich. In answer to the second concern, data suggest that high-achieving students gain much
from their exposure to diverse experiences and also from peer tutoring (e.g., Johnson and Johnson, 1989). Also, students who
may be high achieving in one area may need help in other areas.
Teachers and others also wonder whether shy students can fully participate in a classroom that depends so much on dialogue.
We suggest that these students might feel more comfortable talking in small groups that share responsibility for learning.
Furthermore, interaction between learners can happen in ways other than oral dialogue, for example, writing and art.
A related concern is that many schools are structured homogeneously so that an individual teacher cannot form heterogeneous
groups without involving changes in the entire school. A whole class of "low" readers are taught by one teacher, "average" by
another. High school tracks are even more systematically entrenched. Clearly, these practices are not conducive to
collaborative learning and require system-wide restructuring. Individual teachers or groups of teachers can initiate dialogue on
the problem, however.
Individual Responsibility for Learning This concern is a difficult one to solve unless major changes in other areas of
schooling are also undertaken. Students are used to being graded for individual work; parents expect to know how their
students fare in school. School staff and state departments depend on traditional assessments. In collaborative classrooms, it
is often difficult to assign individual grades. Some teachers give group grades, but many students and parents are
uncomfortable with these.
Ideally, assessment practices should be changed so that they are consistent with collaboration, with a new view of learning and
with a thinking curriculum. Video Conference 4 addresses recent research and practice on assessment. In the meantime,
effective ways have been developed whereby individual students can be evaluated in collaborative classrooms. For example,
David Johnson and Roger Johnson, as well as Robert Slavin, advise making individuals responsible for subtasks in group work
and then determining both group and individual grades.
Conflict of Values Susan Florio-Ruane has observed that many teachers do not feel comfortable allowing students to initiate
dialogue, determine topics, or explore perspectives other than the teacher's. This reluctance conflicts with the way effective
caregivers teach their children in the home. Florio-Ruane and others, such as Annemarie Palincsar, have found that teachers
often have difficulty helping students construct meaning, especially linking the new information to the prior knowledge and
culture of the students. In part this is because many teachers believe that their role is to transmit knowledge; in part it is
because they are held accountable for teaching discrete skills. In one poignant example, a student teacher's concern for
grammar and punctuation prevented her from seeing the sophistication and meaning in what the child was actually
communicating in a book report.

The reluctance people feel when asked to make major changes in the way they do things is clearly the most serious issue of
those discussed here. Hardly a person exists who eagerly gives up familiar ways of behaving to attempt something that is
unknown and is likely to have many challenges of implementation.
This problem requires leadership, support, and time to address. Staff development needs to address teachers' concerns. We
urge that educators first examine their assumptions about learning and then consider new curriculum guidelines. There is an
intimate relationship among one's definition of learning, one's view of the content and scope of curricula, and instructional
practices. Examining one's assumptions honestly and forthrightly, in a supportive group, often spurs educators to change. The
already-convinced must allow time for the less-convinced to reflect and grapple with implications for the views expressed in
this Guidebook They must also accept the possibility that some educators may not change. We are urging that students be
treated with such respect; we must urge the same respect for adults.

What Is the Research Base for Collaborative Learning?

Vygotskian Theory
Vygotsky, a developmental theorist and researcher who worked in the 1920s and early '30s, has influenced some of the current
research of collaboration among students and teachers and on the role of cultural learning and schooling. His principal premise
is that human beings are products not only of biology, but also of their human cultures. Intellectual functioning is the product of
our social history, and language is the key mode by which we learn our cultures and through which we organize our verbal
thinking and regulate our actions. Children learn such higher functioning from interacting with the adults and other children
around them.
Inner Speech Children learn when they engage in activities and dialogue with others, usually adults or more capable peers.
Children gradually internalize this dialogue so that it becomes inner speech, the means by which they direct their own behavior
and thinking. For example, as adults use language such as, "That piece does not fit there; let's try it someplace else," children
may initially just imitate this strategy. However, they gradually use it to regulate their own behavior in a variety of contexts.
Eventually, this dialogue becomes internalized as inner speech.
There seems to be a general sequence in the development of speech for oneself. When alone, very young children tend to talk
about what they have done after they complete an activity. Later, they talk as they work. Finally, they talk to themselves before
they engage in an activity. Speech now has assumed a planning function. Later they internalize this speech. Inner speech-conversations we carry on with ourselves begins as a social dialogue with other people and is a major mode of learning,
planning, and self-regulation.
Various experiments demonstrate this self-regulating function of inner speech. Vygotsky reasoned that when people are asked
to solve difficult problems or to perform difficult tasks, inner speech will go external, that is, take its more primitive form. In other
words, people frequently talk to themselves when they face a problem. This externalization of inner speech is often observed in
children. When they engage in familiar, simple activities, they usually do so without talk, but faced with difficult tasks, they may
whisper or talk out loud to themselves. Adults do this, too. When they are faced with perplexing or unfamiliar tasks such as
figuring out how to work a VCR--they often talk themselves through such tasks.
Vygotsky noted that children interacting toward a common goal tend to regulate each other's actions. Other researchers (e.g.,
Forman & Cazden, 1986) have observed that when students work together on complex tasks, they assist each other in much
the same way adults assist children. In such tasks, dialogue consists of mutual regulation. Together, they can solve difficult
problems they cannot solve working independently.
Scaffolding and Development Effective caregivers engage in regulating dialogue with children almost naturally. A key
phenomenon of such interactions is that caregivers maintain the dialogue just above the level where children can perform
activities independently. As children learn, adults change the nature of their dialogue so that they continue to support the child
but also give the child increasing responsibility for the task (for example, the adult might say, "Now see if you can find the next
piece of the puzzle yourself."). Jerome Bruner and his colleagues called this scaffolding. It takes place within a child's zone of
proximal development, a level or range in which a child can perform a task with help. (Piaget refers to this as "teachable
moments" when adults stretch a child's capacity, but stay within what they are capable of understanding.)
The zone of proximal development, scaffolding, and dialogue are especially useful concepts or frameworks for school learning.
Vygotsky observed that effective teachers plan and carry out learning activities within children's zones of proximal development,
through dialogue and scaffolding. Florio-Ruane drew five maxims from studies of caregiver-child interactions that illustrate
these points and should characterize school instruction.
1. Assume the child (learner) is competent
2. Know the child (learner)
3. Share an interest in the task at hand with the child (learner)

4. Follow the child's (learner's) lead

5. Capitalize on uncertainty
Very few teachers have the luxury of teaching children on a one-to-one basis. Fortunately, we now know that tutoring is not, in
fact, the only--or even the best--way for students to learn in most situations. Dialogue, scaffolding, and working in one's zone of
proximal development can be accomplished in collaborative classrooms, and are being accomplished in many classrooms
Connecting school learning to everyday life Vygotsky also provides us with a framework for thinking about an important
function of teaching and the multicultural perspective. His research suggests that school learning enables students to connect
their "everyday concepts" to "scientific concepts." In other words, schools help students draw generalizations and construct
meaning from their own experiences, knowledge, and strategies. Knowledge learned in the community and knowledge gained
from school are both valuable. Neither can be ignored if students are to engage in meaningful learning.
Effective teachers help students make these connections by scaffolding and dialogue. In fact, these are the essence of
mediating. Teachers plan learning activities at points where students are challenged. Teachers plan activities and experiments
that build on the language of students' everyday lives through familiar examples and behaviors, analogies and metaphors, and
the use of commonly found materials. Teachers demonstrate, do parts of the task students cannot do, work collaboratively with
students where they need help, and release responsibility to students when they can perform the task independently.
Other Research
A number of researchers in recent years have demonstrated the high degree of learning possible when students can
collaborate in learning tasks and when they use their own knowledge as a foundation for school learning. While there are many
that we could cite, we have chosen three different perspectives here: Luis Moll's work on teachers' use of successful cultural
patterns in Mexican-American families; Annemarie Palincsar's and Anne Brown's work on scaffolding, dialogue, and reciprocal
teaching; and research on cooperative learning. Later we provide additional research in content area examples.
Luis Moll Moll, an educator, and his colleagues in anthropology, Carlos Velez-lbanez and James Greenberg, have studied
Mexican-American families who have survived successfully in spite of debilitating circumstances such as poverty and
discrimination. Particular constellations of cultural patterns--strategies if you will-- that value learning and the transmission of
knowledge to children distinguish these families. Moll et al. argue that schools can draw on the social and cognitive
contributions that parents can make to their children's academic learning.
Moll and his colleagues discovered that Mexican-American households are clustered according to kinship ties and exchange
relationships. These clusters of households develop rich funds of knowledge that provide information about practices and
resources useful in ensuring the well-being of the households. Each household in the cluster is a place where expertise in a
particular domain can be accessed and used; examples of domains include repair of vehicles and appliances, plumbing,
knowledge of education, herbal medicine, and first aid. Together, the households form a cluster for the exchange of information
and resources. Often, everyone seems to congregate at one core household.
Families create settings in which children carry out the tasks and chores in the multiple domains of clustered households. The
children's activities have important intellectual consequences. They observe, question, and assist adults as various tasks are
done. For example, the son may indicate interest in fixing a car by asking questions. The father takes his cue from the child and
then decides whether or not the child is capable of doing a task; if not, he may suggest a task that the child can accomplish.
Even though the son's help may be minimal, such as helping to put in screws or checking the oil, his participation in the whole
task is encouraged as an essential part of learning. He is allowed to attempt tasks and to experiment without fear of
punishment if he fails. In such families, learning and questioning are in the hands of the child.
With time children develop expertise as well. They have many opportunities in the cluster of households to apply what they
have learned to tasks of their own design. For example, the son may have a workplace where there are many "junk" engines
that he can manipulate and with which he can experiment. He may use what he has learned in observing and assisting his
father to rebuild a small engine for a "go-cart" he is constructing.
Moll and his colleagues are exploring ways of using the community to enrich children's academic development. To accomplish
this, teachers have developed an after-school laboratory. One teacher created a module on constructing houses which is a
theme of great interest to the students in this teacher's classroom and also one of the most prominent funds of knowledge
found in the students' households. The students started by locating information on building or construction in the library. As a
result of their research, they built a model house or other structure as homework and wrote reports describing their research
and explaining their construction. To extend this activity, the teacher invited parents and other community members who were
experts to share information on specific aspects of construction. For example, one parent described his use of construction
tools and how he measured the area and perimeter of his work site. Thus, the teacher was mobilizing the funds of knowledge in
the community to achieve the instructional goals that she and her students had negotiated together.
The students then took the module one step further. They wanted to consider how they could combine these individual
structures to form a community. This task required both application of their earlier learnings and considerable research.
Students went out to do research, wrote summaries of their findings, and shared the results orally with others in the class.

Thus, students fulfilled their own interests and designed the learning task, while the teacher facilitated and mediated the
learning process and fulfilled her curricular goal of teaching language arts.
Palincsar and Brown Palincsar and Brown have applied Vygotsky's theories about dialogue and scaffolding to classroom
instruction. They reasoned that if the natural dialogue that occurs outside of school between a child and adult is so powerful for
promoting learning, it ought to promote learning in school as well. In particular, they were interested in the planning and selfregulation such dialogue might foster in learners as well as the insights teachers might gain about their students' thinking
processes as they engage in learning tasks. In addition, dialogue among students might be especially effective for encouraging
collaborative problem solving.
Palincsar and Brown noted that, in contrast to effective adult-child interactions outside of school, classroom talk does not
always encourage students to develop self-regulation. Thus, a goal of their research was to find ways to make dialogue a major
mode of interaction between teachers and students to encourage self-regulated learning.
Their classroom research revealed increased self-regulation in classrooms where, subsequent to training, dialogue became a
natural activity. Within a joint dialogue, teachers modeled thinking strategies effectively, apparently in part because students felt
free to express uncertainty, ask questions, and share their knowledge without fear of criticism. The students gave the teachers
clues, so to speak, as to the kind of learning they were ready for. For example, one student interrupted her teacher when she
did not understand something the teacher was reading. The teacher took this opportunity to model a clarifying strategy. (It also
would have been appropriate to have asked other students to model the process.) In a number of classrooms, students freely
discussed what they knew about topics, thus revealing persistent misconceptions. Such revelations do not always happen in
more traditional classrooms. Furthermore, teachers helped students change their misconceptions through continued dialogue.
One particular application was in reading comprehension for students identified as poor readers. The researchers proposed
that poor readers have had impoverished experiences with reading for meaning in school and concluded that they might learn
comprehension strategies through dialogue. To encourage joint responsibility for dialogue, they asked students to take
increasing responsibility for leading discussion, i.e., to act as the teacher. This turn-taking is called reciprocal teaching.
The four comprehension strategies that are stressed are: predicting, question generating, summarizing, and clarifying. The
"teacher" leads dialogue about the text. Predicting activates students' prior knowledge about the text and helps them make
connections between new information and what they already know, and gives them a purpose for reading. Students also learn
to generate questions themselves rather than responding only to teacher questions. Students collaborate to accomplish
summarizing, which encourages them to integrate what they have learned. Clarifying promotes comprehension monitoring.
Students share their uncertainties about unfamiliar vocabulary, confusing text passages, and difficult concepts.
Reciprocal teaching has been successful, but only when teachers believe the underlying assumption that collaboration among
teachers and students to construct meaning, solve problems, and so forth, leads to higher quality learning. Believing this is only
a beginning. Engaging in true dialogue requires practice for both teachers and students. However, the principles of
collaborative dialogue and scaffolding for purposes of self-regulated learning ought to be effective across many content areas.
What may differ, of course, are the critical specific strategies for different subject areas. For example, defining problems seems
critical in mathematics; judging the reliability of resources appears important in social studies; and seeking empirical evidence
is essential in science. In fact, Palincsar is currently investigating problem solving in science.
Cooperative Learning Cooperation, a form of collaboration, is "working together to accomplish shared goals" (Johnson &
Johnson, 1989, p. 2). Whereas collaboration happens in both small and large groups, cooperation refers primarily to small
groups of students working together. Many teachers and whole schools are adopting cooperation as the primary structure for
classroom learning.
Research strongly supports the advantages of cooperative learning over competition and individualized learning in a wide array
of learning tasks. Compared to competitive or individual work, cooperation leads to higher group and individual achievement,
higher-quality reasoning strategies, more frequent transfer of these from the group to individual members, more metacognition,
and more new ideas and solutions to problems. In addition, students working in cooperative groups tend to be more intrinsically
motivated, intellectually curious, caring of others, and psychologically healthy. That is not to say that competition and individual
work should not be valued and encouraged, however. For example, competition is appropriate when there can be only one
winner, as in a sports event, and individualistic effort is appropriate when the goal is personally beneficial and has no influence
on the goals of others.
Unfortunately, simply putting students in groups and letting them go is not enough to attain the outcomes listed above. Indeed,
many teachers and schools have failed to implement cooperation because they have not understood that cooperative skills
must be learned and practiced, especially since students are used to working on their own in competition for grades. At least
three conditions must prevail, according to Johnson and Johnson, if cooperation is to work. First, students must see themselves
as positively interdependent so that they take a personal responsibility for working to achieve group goals. Second, students
must engage in considerable face-to-face interaction in which they help each other, share resources, give constructive
feedback to each other, challenge other members' reasoning and ideas, keep an open mind, act in a trustworthy manner, and
promote a feeling of safety to reduce anxiety of all members. Heterogeneous groups of students usually accomplish this
second condition better than do homogeneous groups.

The third condition, effective group process skills, is necessary for the first two to prevail. In fact, group skills are never
"mastered." Students continually need to reflect on their interactions and evaluate their cooperative work. For example,
students need to learn skills both for accomplishing tasks, such as summarizing and consensus taking, and for maintaining
group cohesiveness, such as ensuring that everyone has a chance to speak and compromising.
Some people, such as Slavin, have developed specific cooperative learning methods that emphasize individual responsibility
for group members. While groups still work to achieve common goals, each member fulfills a particular role or accomplishes an
individual task. Teachers can then assess both group and individual work.
Difficult as it may be to implement cooperative learning, those who have are enthusiastic. (See the example from Joliet West
High School in the next section.) They see improved learning, more effective social skills, and higher self-esteem for most of
their students. In addition, they recognize that our changing world demands more and more cooperation among individuals,
communities, and nations, and that they are indeed preparing students for this world.
What Are Other Examples of Collaborative Instruction?
The Kamehameha Early Education Program
Some teachers in Hawaiian classrooms, in cooperation with researchers such as Katherine Au, have developed a way to teach
elementary reading, Experience-Text-Relationship (ETR), that focuses on comprehension and draws on the strengths of the
Hawaiian culture. The basic element of the ETR method is discussion of a text and topics related to the text, especially
students' own experiences.
Teachers conduct discussion of stories in three phases. First, they guide students to activate what they know that will help them
understand what they read, make predictions, and set purposes. This is the Experience phase. Next, they read the story with
the students, stopping at appropriate points to discuss the story, determine whether their predictions were confirmed, and so
on. This is the Text phase. After they have finished the story, teachers guide students to relate ideas from a text to their own
experiences. This is the Relationship phase. Teachers facilitate comprehension, model processes, and may coach students as
they engage in reading and comprehension activities.
Hawaiians engage in "talk story" as a favored way to narrate stories. While some cultures expect only one person to relate a
story, Hawaiians cooperate by taking turns relating small parts of a story. Encouraging such strategies in reading lessons
promotes collaboration among students and the teacher and involves, indirectly, the community as well. (Cooperation among
family and group members is also important in other aspects of the culture.) As a result, the ETR method not only attends to
students' experiences related to the content of a text, but also honors communication strategies students have learned in their
own cultures.
Content Area Reading Harold Herber developed a set of teaching strategies for content area reading for older students,
particularly high school students, in which teachers show students how to comprehend text through simulation (modeling and
facilitating) rather than asking recitation questions that merely assess whether students have understood a text.
In addition, use of small, heterogeneous, collaborative groups in content area reading increases students' involvement in
learning. They are more willing to take risks and to learn new strategies and ideas from their peers. Teachers who use Herber's
strategies report that all students seem to benefit from collaborative work. They find that it is critical, however, to teach students
how to work in groups.
Process Writing The process writing approach we describe here was developed in a rural school in New Hampshire under the
direction of Donald Graves. It has been incorporated in many elementary school classrooms but is just as appropriate for older
Process writing teachers who use Graves' approach make certain assumptions about students and the writing process. One is
that students have worthwhile ideas to communicate in writing. Another is that when students select their own topics they will
learn more about writing than if teachers always assign topics. A third is that writing should be read by real audiences, that is,
that writing is constructing meaning by a community of writers and readers.
Both teachers and students engage in writing as a craft. Teachers' main functions are to facilitate, model, and coach. Students
dialogue with other students in conferences and as part of an audience. The mode of interaction is collaboration among
students and the teacher.
Teachers fulfill their mediating roles in many ways. They facilitate by providing time to write every day and by setting standards
with the students for conferencing, sharing, and being an audience. They model by writing along with the students and thinking
aloud about how to solve problems writers encounter such as selecting topics and making revisions. Coaching often takes
place in teacher-student conferences, and student-student conferences mirror the teacher-student conference. Conferences
are conceptualized as dialogues between an editor and an author. The "editor" might point out places where the author's writing
works especially well, or might point out a confusing passage that the author could revise. Graves provides many practical
guidelines for, and examples of, successful conferencing.

Many important interactions are promoted in process writing. Students work on their own, but also share their writing with other
students and the teacher. When a student decides to share his or her work with the whole class, he or she is treated as a real
author. Questions that other students ask the student author would be the same ones they might ask a "real" author; for
example, "Where did you get your idea for that story?" When students feel a piece is finished, they publish it and place it on the
classroom shelves alongside books by their peers and "real" authors.
Finding Mathematical Patterns Mathematics is full of opportunities for students to collaborate on tasks that require complex
thinking. Well-designed problems require interpretation, allow for multiple solution strategies, and have solutions that can be
debated, extended, and generalized to other contexts. Thomas Good and his colleagues at the University of Missouri-Columbia
have identified exemplary practices in small-group mathematics instruction.
As an illustration, they summarize a lesson developed by a third-grade teacher. She began the lesson by asking the whole
class all the different ways of writing 3 as a sum (for example, 1 + 1 + 1, 2 + 1, 3 + 0). She wrote the responses on the board
and noted the number of possibilities. She then asked students to work in pairs to identify all the ways to make sums of 4. The
teacher encouraged the students to confer and pool solutions to determine whether they had found all possible solutions. Next
she asked small groups of students to consider the number 5. Before the groups started, she asked them to predict how many
solutions there would be. With enthusiasm and excitement, the groups competed to find the greatest number of solutions, and
much task-related conversation ensued. The teacher then led a follow-up discussion, asking each group to describe the system
it had used to generate possible solutions. The class then decided which system they thought was best.
The teacher then helped students look for patterns in the numbers of solutions for 3, 4, and 5. Next, she asked them to use
their "best" system to generate all possible patterns for the number 6. Again, she asked if a pattern was apparent and if they
could use it to predict solutions for the number 7. Several suggestions were made, but no conclusions agreed on. She ended
by encouraging students to think more about this problem.
Application in Mathematics. As part of the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, a complete mathematics
curriculum has been developed for average students in grades 7-12. Development of this curriculum, which began in 1983, is
under the direction of Zalman Usiskin and Sharon Senk, and has involved school personnel at every stage of planning, writing,
and testing. The curriculum aims to prepare students for an age in which mathematics has an integral role in contemporary
issues, communication, and commerce, as well as its traditional role in science, engineering, and technology. Curricular content
focuses on using mathematics to solve real-world problems.
For example, instead of being asked to find a solution to an abstract "problem" such as 400 divided by 11.3, students might be
asked, "Suppose a car goes 400 miles between gas fill-ups and it takes 11.3 gallons to fill up the tank. What has been the
mileage per gallon?" In classes where this question is asked and the answer (about 35.4 miles per gallon) is found, there are
natural questions such as: "Why is this number important?" "Is this possible - do cars get this much mileage? If so, what cars
do?" "What is a good gas mileage these days?" "How much less gas would be used on a 10,000-mile trip by a car averaging 35
miles per gallon than a car averaging 25 miles per gallon? How much less would it cost?"
This emphasis on using mathematics to solve real-world problems forces the curriculum to make use of technology. The use of
technology--in this case, a calculator - enables the teacher and students to be more efficient in using math to solve problems,
freeing up the time formerly spent in calculation for solving additional problems relevant to students' lives. In the School
Mathematics Project, scientific calculators are required in all courses because they are available to almost anyone who uses
mathematics in the world outside of school. Computer work is recommended in all courses and is required in one advanced
course because the content--functions and statistics is not covered adequately today unless one has automatic graphic and
data handling capabilities.
In these ways, instruction is changed not because of an a priori decision to use collaborative groups or cooperative learning but
because the content and technology lend themselves to discussion and teamwork. Students are usually not satisfied merely
with a right/wrong answer to an interesting problem; they wish to discuss it, they want to share their methods of solution, and
they want to know whether others thought the same way. One of the salient findings from the testing of this curriculum is that
students no longer ask, "How does this topic apply to the real world?" or "Why am I studying this?"
In the algebra curriculum, Usiskin and Senk have included only those "word problems" that show the importance of
mathematics in today's world. The curriculum developers point out the pitfalls of problems such as the following, often found in
algebra texts: "Reversing the two digits in the cost of an item, a salesperson overcharges a customer by 27 cents. If the sum of
the digits was 15, what was the original cost of the item?" Such problems violate two principles of application of mathematics.
First, they are reverse given-find, in that one has to know the answer before one can make up the question. In the real world,
one would never solve a problem for which one already as solution. Second, such problems are easier to solve with arithmetic
than algebra. Usiskin, Senk, and the teachers they work with believe it is because of these two weaknesses that such "word
problems" are viewed with such antipathy that many students ask why they are studying the subject. Mathematics, Usiskin,
points out, has been invented to do things more easily, not to make things more difficult.
The School Mathematics Project teaches algebraic concepts using real-world problems. For example, linear equations are
taught with a wide variety of constant increase or constant decrease problems, such as, "The population of the province of
Quebec in Canada was 6,398,000 in 1980. If the population is increasing by 40,000 people per year, find an equation relating
the population to the year." An example of a linear combination problem is: "If you eat a quarter-pounder which has 80 calories

per ounce, how many 111-calorie French fries can you eat if you don't want your lunch to exceed 500 calories?" An example
involving data that needs a line graph is: "Given the latitudes and mean April temperatures of some cities in the northern
hemisphere, find an equation approximately relating latitude and temperature. Graph this equation. Explain why the point for
Mexico City falls far from the line." Similar problems are used to teach other concepts in algebra and other courses. The goal of
the curriculum developers is to show that it is important not only to have skills, to see the relationships among mathematical
ideas, and to represent these ideas concretely or pictorially, but also to see why mathematics is so important in so many ways
in today's world.
Joliet West High School, Joliet, IL Joliet is a community of approximately 100,000 people diverse in terms of racial background
and income level. Whites, blacks, and Hispanics reside in Joliet. It is home to families living in poverty as well as families living
in affluence. In the mid-'80s, Joliet West High school had a high failure rate (37 percent of the freshmen class failed one or
more classes) and a high rate of referrals for discipline problems. Determined to equip students with knowledge and skills to
succeed both in school and out, the high school instituted a cooperative learning program exemplifying collaborative instruction.
Basic to Joliet West High School's program are the TEAM (Together Each Accomplishes More) Seminars in which all freshmen
participate daily. Seminars provide students with opportunities to experience small-group, cooperative learning. While learning
problem-solving and decision-making skills, students, grouped heterogeneously with regard to race, economic level, and ability,
begin to appreciate diverse cultures, attitudes, and abilities. TEAM also involves the community: Local hospital staff talk with
freshmen about stress management and drug abuse prevention; other community members introduce students to career
Aware that collaboration promotes learning in many settings, Joliet West High School trains many of its content-area teachers
to make their classrooms communities of collaboration. In English, history, foreign language, and industrial technology, for
example, students collaborate in small groups or as an entire classroom; they share prior knowledge, set learning goals,
monitor their progress, and share responsibility for results. Heterogeneous grouping may team students from various
socioeconomic groups and students with varying experiential backgrounds. Gifted students and former Special Education
students may collaborate. Classrooms are open communities where all ideas are welcome; students challenge each other and
share positive criticism. Teachers offer positive reinforcement and communicate successes to parents.
Collaborative techniques extend to discipline. Student groups, trained in mediation and arbitration, counsel students who are
habitually tardy or disruptive.
Joliet's success is evident not only in academic performance, but also in student attitudes, motivation, and self-esteem. Since
the program's inception three years ago, the number of students earning grades in the A to C level has increased by 20
percent, and there has been a significant reduction in the number of failures among the academically at-risk group. Teacher
comments illustrate other types of gains: "I use it in auto technology. Students change oil in triads: one picks up the tools, one
puts them away, while one actually does the job. All watch and are responsible that the job is done properly." "I find that there
seem to be fewer disciplinary referrals on the freshman level." "In freshman seminar my students are forming their own groups
to study before major tests. They quiz each other. They enjoy working together so much, they have even made up their own
games and asked me to be part of their group."
Student comments may be the most insightful: "I really like sharing answers. I never shared answers before." "I really like
working in groups because you can bring your grade up." "While working in groups there are no arguments. If you disagree with
someone you find a way to solve the problem." "I learned not to argue and always help out and share ideas that you think of
and do not start fights." "Working with groups is fun because you get to share your facts with someone else."
Beaupre Elementary School, Aurora, IL This school's student population is approximately 44 percent Hispanic, 46 percent
black, 9 percent white, and 1 percent Asian. Most students are members of low-income families. Just a few years ago, many
Aurora citizens had few expectations of Beaupre students. The community regarded many students as little more than
troublemakers. School personnel were frustrated with their students' lack of learning success, particularly in reading.
All that has changed. The program that made all the difference is called Reading, Reading, Everywhere. Far more than a
reading program, it demonstrates how collaboration within the classroom, the school, and the community can produce
successful learners.
Rather than continuing to rely on homogeneous grouping and entirely on basal readers, Beaupre adopted a whole-language
approach and collaborative learning. The curriculum provides students with opportunities to read many types of literature by
authors from various cultural backgrounds, opportunities to visit the public library, and diverse writing experiences. An
instructional technique known as K-W-L was introduced in classrooms.
Teachers activate students' prior knowledge by asking them what they already KNOW; then students (collaborating as a
classroom unit or within small groups) set goals specifying what they WANT to learn; and, after reading, students discuss what
they have LEARNED. Students apply higher-order thinking strategies which help them construct meaning from what they read
and help them monitor progress toward their goals.

At Beaupre, students often work in cooperative group~ in which each student has a specific responsibility--to complete a
product such as a story map. Fifth- and sixth-grade teachers have seen how effectively peer influence regulates behavior when
group members must cooperate to complete a science experiment or other type of assignment.
Beaupre has gained respect in the community by utilizing the talents of community members to further stimulate learning.
Among the numerous collaborative efforts are: visits to senior centers where youngsters and senior citizens read to each other;
visits to early education centers where Beaupre students share their knowledge with the toddlers; a homework lab operated by
teenagers and seniors from a local church; and an Urban League tutoring program operated by parents and high school
students. A program exemplifying collaboration as well as a whole-language approach is the school's Read Aloud program.
Students in each classroom write to community members inviting them to be the "community reader" for the day. Community
members of various ethnic groups and occupations have accepted invitations and serve as role models for the students.
In addition to heightened involvement and respect from parents and the community at large, Beaupre has observed
improvement in students' reading habits and abilities: after-school reading was up 20 percent; the number of students holding
library cards increased by 28 percent; newspaper readership by students increased significantly. On state reading
comprehension and vocabulary assessments, the school rose from last in the school district to first in the county; the percent of
students in the bottom quartile on standardized tests for grade 1-6 decreased from 80 percent to 22 percent; and overall
reading scores of at-risk students tutored through the Urban League Project increased 34 percent. In fact, 5 of 15 students
moved out of the at-risk category.
Redwood Falls High School, Redwood Falls, MN Redwood Falls, a community of 5,000 people, is rapidly changing. What
was once a very stable community is now characterized by instability: Many farmers found it necessary to leave the area,
others remained and took low income jobs, and a number of new people are moving into the area. The range of income levels
is wider now than when agriculture was the main enterprise.
These changes have created a lack of cohesiveness and feelings of insecurity in the community. High school students,
especially, fear for their future and wonder if they will find jobs. The town's limited manufacturing enterprises, retail stores, and
remaining farms cannot provide employment for all the town's youth. Most will probably seek jobs in small cities nearby.
To address these problems, in the late 1980s the school system applied to the American Forum in the late 1980s and was
awarded a five-year Education 2000 grant. Education 2000 funds enable communities to restructure schools so that students
are prepared for a changing society. To accomplish this aim, the entire Redwood Falls community collaborated to set goals and
develop a restructuring plan.
These efforts have led to many positive changes. People began regarding the schools as the center of intellectual life for the
community at large. Early childhood, family education, and university level adult education courses are among those programs
available to everyone in the community.
Curriculum and instruction have also changed. Instruction is much more collaborative, and curriculum focuses more on higher
order thinking skills needed for success in school and in life. Teachers tap students' prior knowledge and help students "learn
how to learn," through collaborative problem solving and decision making. When students need information, they ask an
"expert" classmate or contact a community expert. Students develop their own tools to "test" how well they have learned. The
curriculum has also become more interdisciplinary and builds on the multicultural resources in the community (Native
Americans, Swedes, and Norwegians).
In Larry Gavin's high school English class, for example, students work in small groups to critique each other's writing. When
students write narrative, they consult Dakota Indian students who are skillful in writing narrative because in their culture,
nothing is an "event" until someone tells a story about it. When studying about conflicts on the Great Plains in the 1800s
between Native American and white groups, students heard representatives of both groups present their point of view. Gavin,
the drama teacher, and the music teacher collaborated to assist students in writing and producing an original one-act play.

Preventing Student Aggression

Aggressive students present a significant challenge for teachers. An aggressive child can engender a climate of fear in the
classroom, creating anxiety among other students and distracting them from their schoolwork. The student who is the cause of
that fear also warrants your concern. Her aggressive behavior might signal that she is a troubled child and/or cause her to be
shunned by her peers; it also might be a harbinger of problems she will display as an adolescent and adult.

Make it clear to students that aggressive behavior is unacceptable. When discussing class rules at the beginning of the
year, inform students that they are not allowed to hit or push under any circumstances. You also might let them know the
consequences for aggressive behavior in your classroom. Review and reinforce the rule as necessary throughout the year.
Encourage students to tell you immediately if they observe physical conflicts. When you become aware of such physical
conflict, take immediate action to stop it. That sends a message to students that you will do whatever is necessary to ensure
that your classroom is a safe haven.
Try to identify when and where a student is aggressive. Look for a pattern in the incidents so you can anticipate their
occurrence and take steps to avoid them. When aggressive incidents occur, you might want to make a note of when they
occurred, what was going on at the time, who was the target of the aggression, what happened right before and right after the
incident, and how others responded. That kind of behavioral assessment might help you determine what triggers the behavior,
what reinforces it, and most importantly, what to do about it.
Teach students conflict-resolution skills. Children might resort to aggression because they lack the words or skills to solve
problems non-physically. Help them learn to resolve conflicts without acting aggressively by teaching them the basics of talking
things out: staying calm; allowing each person to have his or her say without being interrupted, blamed or put-down; using "I
messages" to convey feelings; and considering another's point of view. Designate an area of your classroom as a "peace
corner," a place where students can go to settle conflicts and decide on a resolution. After they have spent time in the peace
corner, students should inform you of their decisions.
Have a student who is prone to aggression engage in activities that make aggressive behavior less likely. When she
appears tense, suggest such tasks as drawing a picture, working with clay, taking a walk, writing in a journal or squeezing a ball
to help her release her frustration. You might want to give the student an item to carry or suggest that she put her hands in her
pockets at those times when she seems prone to using her hands inappropriately or seems to be on the verge of an
Connect with the aggressive student. An aggressive student might distrust teachers and view them as adversaries. Try to
gain the student's trust by listening attentively to what she says and showing respect for her thoughts and concerns. Find a few
minutes every so often to talk with her about her interests and hobbies. Help her start the day out on a positive note by giving
her a high five or making an upbeat comment when she walks in the door. She might make better choices if she feels
supported and accepted by you.
Obtain in-school counseling for an aggressive student. You might ask the guidance counselor or school psychologist to
counsel her. She might need guidance about resolving peer conflicts and finding alternative ways of behaving. She also might
need help interpreting the behavior of her peers if she tends to perceive hostile intent when none is intended.

School Assemblies

Poor behavior by one of your students during an assembly can present an awkward situation. You might feel embarrassed that
your student is the culprit. You also might feel self-conscious if you perceive that the principal and other teachers are watching
to see how you handle the problem. Your challenge is to respond in a way that does not draw attention to yourself or to your
student, but allows other students to enjoy a disruption-free program. Your goal is to discipline the misbehaving student while
leaving his dignity intact.
Conduct a lesson in assembly protocol. Before the first assembly of the school year, discuss with students how to behave
during an assembly. That is especially important with younger students. Let students know that you expect them to walk to the
assembly quietly and in single file, to sit with their own class, to remain quiet during the assembly, and to leave the assembly in
an organized manner. With younger children or special education students, you might practice good assembly behavior.
Keep downtime to a minimum. If you are responsible for the assembly program, try to begin as soon as possible after all
students have arrived. The more unstructured time students have, the more likely they are to present problems. If using audiovisual equipment, make sure it is set up and ready to go before students arrive.
Insist on quiet before beginning. Tell students that the program cannot begin until everyone is quiet and seated. After they
quiet down, you might engage students in a unifying activity -- such as singing a song -- before starting the program.
Stay near your students. Rather than standing in the rear with other teachers, sit or stand near your class. You might position
yourself near a student who has difficulty controlling himself; your proximity might be enough to keep him under control. If
necessary, circulate to make your presence known and to observe your class so you can signal those who misbehave.
Signal students non-verbally. If you anticipate a student might have self-control problems during the assembly, establish a
non-verbal signal that you can use to indicate that he needs to quiet down or focus on the program. You might offer a choice of

signals and have him select the one he wants you to use. You might, for example, make eye contact, put your finger to your
lips, raise your eyebrows, wink, or touch his shoulder.
Give a student prone to misbehavior a job. If one of your students tends to misbehave, consider giving him a task to do
during the assembly. You might have him set up chairs, hand out programs, lead classes to their seats, or assist the person in
charge of the assembly. The job might not only occupy the student's attention during the assembly, but also boost his selfesteem so he feels less inclined to act in a disruptive manner.

Proper Bathroom Etiquete

The bathroom is one of the few places in school that often is unsupervised. As a result, the bathroom is a frequent site of
behavior problems. Those can range from writing on the wall to plugging up a toilet with paper towels to festooning a bathroom
stall with toilet paper. The bathroom also can be the site of such social problems as students harassing one another. Then, of
course, there are the dawdlers -- those students who hang out in the bathroom to avoid going back to class.
Review bathroom policies with your students. At the beginning of the school year, make clear your rules for using the
bathroom, and then review them as needed throughout the year. Those rules might describe when students can go to the
bathroom, how many can go to the bathroom at one time, whether they need permission to leave the class, and so on. Make
sure they understand that writing on the walls or damaging property in any way is unacceptable.
If necessary, teach students how to use the bathroom. Young elementary students might need some guidance in this area.
You might have to take them to the bathroom and show them such basic practices as flushing the toilet (once!) after using it;
placing toilet paper in the toilet and paper towels in the trash; and washing their hands. Also show them how to use the locks on
the stall doors.
Have students sign out when they go to the bathroom. Monitor students' whereabouts by having each student write his
name, destination, and times of departure and return in a sign-out book or on a 3 x 5 card. A simpler method, but one that does
not provide a permanent record, is to have each student put his name in a designated area of the chalkboard or on a wipe-off
board near the door, and then erase his name when he returns to the classroom.
Monitor bathroom use. If students do use a sign-out book or 3 x 5 cards to record trips to the bathroom, you can review those
records to see if any students are leaving the room excessively. Let the class know that you will look at those records often to
determine who might be abusing the bathroom privilege, that you will call their parents to discuss this concern, if necessary.
Contact a student's parents if he uses the bathroom excessively. Ask the parent(s) if his frequent use of the restroom is
caused by a physical problem. If they don't know of one, but have noticed a similar pattern at home, you might suggest that
they talk with their child's pediatrician.
Require students to carry a hall pass when they leave the room. A hall pass will save you the trouble of writing a pass each
time a student needs to go to the bathroom. You might create the pass out of a block of wood -- at least the size of an eraser.
(Consider asking the school's custodian to make one for you.) Limit the number of passes to two -- one for the boys and one for
the girls. That way, you can control the number of students who are out of the classroom at any one time and lessen the
likelihood they will dawdle. Tell students they should see you if the pass is being used and they have a genuine bathroom
Check the bathroom periodically. Because leaving your classroom to monitor students' bathroom use will be difficult, ask an
aide, parent volunteer or responsible student to check on a student who seems to be taking an unusually long time in the
Encourage students to tell you about problems in the bathroom. If the problem involves a classmate, you might need to
problem-solve with the complaining student or get the two students together to resolve the conflict. Of course, if a student is
being harassed by a classmate, that calls for your direct intervention.
Have students clean up any messes they make. If a student causes a mess in the bathroom -- and you are sure he was the
one who you did it -- have the student help clean it up. If the custodian has already cleaned up, have the student help clean up
the bathroom at another time. Notify his parents of that disciplinary measure.
Bullying Behavior
Bullying is a serious and pervasive problem in our schools. Surveys indicate that 15 to 20 percent of children are bullied in
school at some point. For those who are the targets of bullying, the incidents can be the most painful experiences of childhood,
often leaving lasting scars. Victims can experience anxiety, fear, and even depression for years to come.

Bullying also can affect those students who witness the incidents -- the bystanders. Bullying can give rise to a climate of fear
and anxiety in a school, distracting students from their schoolwork and impeding their ability to learn. Students who witness
their classmates being victimized wonder, Am I going to be next? The possibility of being bullied can cause students to live in a
state of fear, focusing on little else. That isnt surprising when you consider that children who were surveyed rated bullying the
second worst experience of childhood -- second only to the death of a loved one.
Despite the pervasiveness and potential seriousness of bullying, it is a problem that often escapes detection by teachers. One
study found that only four percent of bullying episodes were observed by school staff. Even when teachers are made aware of
bullying, they sometimes turn a blind eye. They might view it as a harmless rite of passage that is best ignored. The reality,
however, is that bullying is not harmless and it must not be ignored.
It is critical that teachers be on the lookout for signs of bullying. Although teachers might not actually witness a bullying incident
(bullies are very adept at tormenting their victims outside the presence of adults), they should see the results of the bullying. A
child who is bullied might show any or all of the following characteristics:

anxiety in class.

frequent visits to the school nurse.

a decline in academic performance.

unusual sadness or withdrawal from peers.

unexplained bruises.

This column describes strategies teachers can use to deal with bullying in the classroom. If
schools are to make real headway preventing incidents of bullying, however, the strategies
need to be part of a school-wide anti-bullying campaign that has the commitment of staff,
students, and parents.
Act immediately if you observe or hear of bullying taking place. Dont let it continue on
the assumption that children need to learn to stand up for themselves. Bullies are often
bigger and stronger than their victims, who often lack the physical ability or verbal skills
to adequately defend themselves. Allowing bullying to continue might result in the bullied
child being hurt physically or psychologically.

Learn More About Bullying

Dr. Ken Shore, with National
Professional Resources, has just
released a 4-video series on
bullying that offers a
comprehensive bullying
prevention program. This
program includes separate videos
for principals, teachers, paraprofessionals, and parents, as
well as an accompanying book.
For further information on the
program, see The ABCs of
Bullying Prevention.

Talk privately with the bully. Give the bully an opportunity to explain her behavior, but
expect her to downplay her actions or place the blame on the victim. If you are confident that
she was engaging in bullying, let her know that further incidents will not be tolerated. Tell her
that you and other staff will be monitoring her behavior very closely and disciplinary action,
including notifying her parents, will be taken if another incident occurs. (Or you might decide that the incident warrants
disciplinary action rather than just a warning.) After putting the bully on notice, try to elicit her cooperation. Tell her you don't
believe she really wants to hurt another child and ask for her ideas about resolving the problem. You might find that a
sympathetic approach elicits kinder and gentler behavior. Bullies bully for a reason -- to gain status with or power over peers, to
punish a child they are angry at or jealous of, to vent frustration with problems at home or in school. Try to identify what is
behind the bullying and provide appropriate support.
Keep in mind that the purpose of disciplining the bully is to deter her aggressive actions not to humiliate or embarrass
her. Insist that the bully return any items she has taken from the victim. You also might want to exclude the bully from places or
activities where she has harassed other students, remove classroom privileges, or give her detention. Notify her parents
immediately of what she has done and ask that they have a serious talk with their child about her behavior. You might want to
consider having the parents in for a conference. Solicit their support for the steps you are taking in school. The principal also
might decide the incident is serious enough that it warrants a suspension from school. On the day of the students return to
school, she might be required to come in with her parents and sign a contract in which she agrees not to engage in any further
bullying behavior. The contract should define the prohibited behaviors in a specific manner and set out consequences if she
does not abide by the contract.
Dont neglect the victim. Just as the bully warrants your attention, so does the victim. Ask her what happened and listen
sympathetically and attentively. Let her know that she is not to blame for the bullying. Encourage her to tell you of other
incidents and reassure her that you will make every possible effort to stop it. You also might want to help her learn how to be
assertive with bullies without being aggressive. Try role-playing, suggesting what she might do or say during a bullying incident
to project a greater air of confidence. Make sure the student knows that she should not respond physically, however. Retaliation
only escalates a bully's aggression. You might want to inform the victim's parents what happened and what actions you have
taken. (Let the child know you will be doing that.) Give the student frequent pats on the back to boost her confidence and
increase her feelings of comfort. Talk with her periodically to ask if the problem is continuing; if so, take action.
Survey the class about bullying. The results of an anonymous survey might help you gauge the extent and types of bullying
taking place, as well as the places where it is occurring. Of course, that also can be done on a school-wide basis, and serve as
a benchmark to assess the impact of any programs intended to lessen the occurrence of bullying.

Hold a class meeting to discuss bullying. With younger students, you might want to begin by reading a story suited to their
age, such as The Berenstain Bears and the Bully. Make it clear that bullying other children is a serious matter and that it will not
be allowed in your classroom. Talk with students about what bullying is; give examples of bullying and ask for examples from
students. Consider writing their ideas on the chalkboard. Discuss how children who are bullied might feel; write those ideas on
the board as well. Ask if any students want to share their experiences of being bullied, but do not let them talk about specific
students. Ask students what they might do if they see another student being bullied. Encourage them to either take action to
stop the bullying or report it to an adult.
Pay attention to students who are isolated from their peers. Isolated students are the most likely targets for bullies. Help
those students become involved with their peers by arranging for friendly and accepting students to invite them to join in
classroom or playground activities. You also might arrange for students who are loners to engage in activities together. Those
students might need your help to learn what to say and do when interacting with peers. They might not know what to say to
initiate an activity with a classmate or to join an ongoing activity.
Encourage children to be kind to one another. Praise children who act in a kind or sensitive way to classmates. You also
might recognize children who display those behaviors by giving certificates or rewards at school assemblies. You can promote
the kinder and gentler side of students by offering them opportunities to help others. Perhaps the most important step you can
take to help children treat one another respectfully is to model that behavior in your own interactions with your students. That
means avoiding the use of sarcasm or putdowns, for example.
Advocate for your school to develop an anti-bullying policy. Talk with your principal about putting an anti-bullying policy in
place or bring up the topic at a staff meeting. The policy should specifically define what constitutes bullying, describe its impact
on individuals, discuss ways of preventing bullying, and list a graduated series of consequences for those who continue to bully

Tactics to Prevent Cheating

Although cheating is a bigger concern with middle and high school students, it is not uncommon among elementary school
children. The pressure to do well in school that often gives rise to cheating among older students also can affect younger
Elementary school teachers, therefore, play a key role in conveying the importance of honesty in school and helping students
learn to take pride in their own work. To that end, it is important to make sure that younger students understand what cheating
is, especially those students who are used to working in collaborative groups. Students who are accustomed to working
together and sharing information might not fully understand that it is inappropriate to copy the work of others when working
This week's column discusses the steps you can take to prevent student cheating. Next week, we will focus on what to do
about a student who has cheated.
Talk with students about cheating. Begin by explaining your policy about cheating and the consequences of cheating in your
classroom. Encourage students to discuss the issue by asking how they feel when they earn a good grade by studying hard
and how they feel when they get a good grade by copying the answers from someone else. Ask why students might cheat and
how they would feel if they found out one of their heroes had cheated. As you discuss the consequences of cheating, you might
also point out that students who copy answers might be copying the wrong answers. Let them know that if they are tempted to
cheat because they're having a problem with a subject, you are available to provide extra help.
Explain the rules before giving a test. You might, for example, tell students to clear their desks, face forward, keep their eyes
on their own paper, and remain seated and silent until the test is over. Remind them of the consequences for cheating.
Consider posting those rules in the classroom.
Change the room arrangement to minimize opportunities to cheat. Have students move their desks further apart when
taking a test. You also might have them place simple barriers -- perhaps file folders -- on their desks to prevent their classmates
from seeing their test papers.
Give students different versions of the same test. Creating different versions of the same test is easy with a computer. You
don't have to change the questions on the alternate versions, just the order of the questions. Telling students you are doing this
will discourage them from cheating. You don't even have to create different versions of the test to achieve the deterrent effect.
Just label the tests Version A, Version B, and Version C, or run off the test on two or three different colored papers, so students
think there are different versions of the test.

Have students explain their work. Tests that require students to explain their answers, either by showing the steps used to
solve a math problem or by explaining the reasoning behind a response, minimize cheating. Those open-ended tests also allow
you to give partial credit for students who use a correct process or demonstrate some understanding of the issue even if the
final answer is incorrect.
Monitor students from the back of the room. Students are less likely to glance at a classmate's paper if they think you might
be watching. Try circulating throughout the room, passing students in an unpredictable pattern, while being sure to walk past
more frequently past those students who have a history of cheating.

Encouraging Class Participation

Class participation is an important aspect of student learning. When students speak up in class, they learn to express their
ideas in a way that others can understand. When they ask questions, they learn how to obtain information to enhance their own
understanding of a topic.

Class participation also is a valuable learning tool for teachers. Through students' questions, you learn what they don't
understand, and can adjust your instruction accordingly.
Just as speaking in front of a group doesn't come easily to many adults, however, speaking up in class is a struggle for many
students. That struggle might manifest itself in the classroom in a variety of ways -- not volunteering to answer questions, not
asking for help, not speaking up in small-group activities, even not talking in class at all.
As a teacher, you will have greater success spurring a student to speak up if you can figure out why he is reluctant to
participate. Whatever the reason for his reticence, your role is not to force him to speak; doing so will more likely make him
clam up than open up. Your role is to provide a supportive, encouraging climate that helps him feel more comfortable, more
confident, and less fearful of speaking up.
Create a climate in which students are encouraged to ask questions. Make it clear to students that you want them to ask
questions. Point out that their questions help you by indicating where you might not have been clear. Emphasize that there is
no such thing as a dumb question, and make sure to not allow students to ridicule a classmate's questions.
Take the student's questions and comments seriously. The student's reluctance to ask a question or volunteer an answer
might be due to a lack of confidence. Help him gain the courage to participate by showing respect for his contributions and
giving thoughtful answers to his questions. Listen attentively while he is talking; do not interrupt him. Try to find something
positive to say about his comments, such as "That's an interesting point. I never thought about it that way" or "That's a really
creative idea."
Orchestrate his speaking experiences to ensure success. Consider the following strategies:

Ask questions you are confident he can answer.

Let him know before class that you will be calling on him for a specific question so he can prepare an answer. If you
arrange to call on him, do it early to lessen anxiety.
When he does respond, reinforce his comments with positive statements and an encouraging smile.
If you ask a question and he blanks out or says nothing, restate the question (perhaps in a yes or no format), or lead
him toward the right answer by providing a clue. Or you might let him off the hook by giving the answer, while saying
something like "That was a tough one," and then moving on.

Be patient when waiting for a response. The student might need more time than normal to organize his ideas and formulate
a response. As a result, he might be slow about answering a question. If so, give him extra time by waiting for an answer a little
longer than you usually do. If other students are clamoring to answer, ask for their patience as well.
Monitor class participation. Monitoring will help you determine who is and who is not participating, and learn whether a
particular student is improving. A simple way to keep track of student participation is to keep a seating chart on your desk and
place check marks next to the names of those students who do contribute.
Provide opportunities for the student to practice his communication skills by taking the time to talk with him
privately. The idea is to help the student feel more comfortable talking with one person so, in time, he will feel more confident
speaking up in front of a group. Find a few minutes every so often to talk with him about his favorite activities and interests. Or
speak with him when he is doing an art project or a writing assignment. Ask questions, so he can explain what he is doing, but
be sure the questions are non-threatening.

Give the student responsibilities that require communication. You might have to nudge the student to assume those
responsibilities, but don't hesitate to push a little if you are confident he can do them successfully. For example, you might
encourage him to be a class messenger, a teacher assistant, a peer tutor, or the leader of a small group working on a topic he
is familiar with. Make sure to praise his performance even if he struggles with the task.
Observe the student for evidence of a speech or language problem. A student might be reluctant to speak up in class
because he has a speech defect or difficulty putting his thoughts into words. Articulation problems usually are readily evident to
teachers, however, difficulties in language usage can be more difficult to identify. If your observations suggest a communication
problem, bring that to the attention of your school's speech-language specialist, who might want to do an evaluation.

Field Trips
Class trips offer students unique learning experiences, and provide them the opportunity to experience firsthand what they are studying. Unfortunately,
class trips also provide the opportunity for disciplinary problems. With some advance planning, however, you can avoid those problems and ensure an
educational and trouble-free trip. Begin by arranging to take the trip in the morning, when students are more likely to be alert, focused, and
Visit the site prior to the trip. That preview will help you identify potential problems and plan for them. If you cannot visit the site ahead of time, talk
with a representative and inquire about specific rules you should emphasize with your students (Can they touch the exhibits, for example) and
whether any special circumstances should be discussed with students in advance.
Set ground rules. Let students know they are representing their school and you expect them to be on their best behavior. Inform them that the usual
school rules are in effect, and add any other rules specific to the field trip (No talking while a tour guide is speaking, for example). Consider having
each student sign a list of the rules signifying their agreement to comply with them.
Go over bus rules. Keep in mind that some students do not take a bus to school and, therefore, might not be familiar with bus rules. Make sure all
students understand bus protocol related to seating arrangements, moving around the bus, talking, use of the windows, exiting the bus, and so
Talk with students about the field trip. Let them know about the day's activities and inform them of any events that might be upsetting (loud noises,
for example). You might share with them some literature about the field trip or direct them to the site's Web site. That kind of information will make the
trip more meaningful for students. They also will be more focused on what they are seeing and less likely to fool around.
Provide activities for students to complete while on the trip. You might, for example, give them a list of items to find, or a list questions that will be
discussed when they return. Encourage them to ask questions of the guide. Such activities will help students focus on what they are seeing and give
them fewer chances to misbehave.
Talk with troublesome students before the trip. If you have students who are likely to present behavioral difficulties, take them aside individually
and ask for their cooperation. Review the rules and the consequences violating the rules, and let them know you expect them to behave. Remind
them that class trips are a privilege and that students who misbehave run the risk of losing that privilege in the future.
Establish a signal to get students' attention. If you need to quiet students, you might raise your hand and form a V with your finger. Tell students
they are to raise their hands when they see you raising yours, and be silent.
Consider your student groupings. Assign problem-prone students to chaperones with good management skills, but avoid grouping together
students who tend to have problems when together. If you are especially concerned about a student's behavior, you might ask his parent to serve as a
chaperone. Meet briefly with chaperones to discuss the rules for the trip and how to handle uncooperative students.
Bring a cell phone, if possible. Besides providing you with immediate access to the school in an emergency, a cell phone also allows you to contact
the parents of a student who presents a problem. You might even have the student make the call. Let students know you have a cell phone and will
call their parents if necessary.

Appropriate Line Behavior

Behavior problems often occur when students line up to leave the classroom and walk through the hallways. In their eagerness
to be first in line or to get to the next activity, they might run to the door, push their way to the front, or cut in line -- often
knocking into other students in the process. They might argue over who is the line leader, who stands next to whom, and who
gets to hold the door. Problems can continue as they walk the halls. Their incessant chatter might disrupt nearby classes.
Because knowing when problems are occurring isn't always easy, it's important to keep a watchful eye on students in the
hallway or other unstructured areas. That is not the time to relax rules or lessen efforts to maintain discipline.


Tell students in advance they are leaving the room. Students who feel rushed might knock into other students as they hurry
back to their seats or run to the door. Let them know a few minutes in advance that they should begin to put away their
materials because they will be leaving class. Make sure they have enough time to get ready without feeling rushed. That is
especially important for students who are disorganized and have difficulty with transitions.
Have a system for lining up. Without an organized approach to lining up, you can face chaos as students push into line to
stand next to friends or push aside classmates to get to the front of the line. Some potential line-up techniques include the

Have students line up by rows or tables.

Have girls line up first and then boys, or vice versa.

Have students who are sitting quietly line up first.

Have students line up according to personal characteristics. For example, students whose names begin with a specific
letter or whose birthday is in a particular month might line up first.

Assign students a day of the week, from Monday to Friday. On Mondays, students who are assigned that day would
line up first, and so on.

After students have lined up, be sure to separate those who are likely to fool around with one another. If they walk double file,
place students who are prone to act up with well-behaved partners.
Play a game with students while they are lined up. If they are in line, but can't leave the classroom yet, play a game. For
example, you might have younger students count by two's or have older students name states, beginning with the first student
in line.
Tell the line leader to stop moving if students are noisy. Let the class know the leader will be doing that. Once the noise
stops, the leader can start the line moving again. Students might be frustrated by the delay, which will serve as an incentive to
quiet down.
Have students start over if they misbehave. If students are particularly noisy while lining up, or are pushing and shoving,
have them return to their seats to try again. Similarly, if students are noisy or disruptive in the hallway, have them go back to the
classroom and start the process again. You can do that with the entire class or with individual students. Students eventually will
become frustrated with the delay, especially if they are waiting to go somewhere they want to go to, such as lunch or
Set up hallway checkpoints. Identify two or three checkpoints in the hall and tell the line leader to stop at those points. That
gives you a chance to make sure students are under control. If the class has to go up or down stairs, make that one of the
checkpoints so you can observe as students negotiate the stairs. You also might put down markers leading to the lunchroom to
guide students where to walk.
Give trouble-prone students jobs to do. That might be holding open a door, closing a door, turning off lights, and so on. The
jobs not only will give them a sense of importance, they also might serve as incentives to act appropriately. Allow students to do
their jobs as long as they stay out of trouble.
Separate lockers of students who have conflicts. If your school has lockers in the hallway, make sure students who do not
get along with each other have lockers that are not near each other.

Hitting or Threatening
A Teacher
A student hitting a teacher is a serious incident that merits a serious response. Although the problem occurs infrequently, when
it does occur, it can dramatically alter the climate of the classroom and leave its imprint on the teacher and students.
Being struck or threatened by a student can undermine a teacher's authority -- especially if the teacher loses control when
reacting to the experience -- and it can frighten other students. Teachers have an opportunity through their handling of such a
situation to demonstrate their authority and control, and to restore a sense of security and calm among students.
In deciding how to respond, teachers need to consider the nature of the incident, the student's age, and his intent. There is a
marked difference between a six-year old child who, in the course of a tantrum, flails his arms and accidentally hits the teacher,
and an 11-year old who strikes a teacher with the intent of hurting her. The latter situation clearly calls for a more serious
The same reasoning applies to a student who threatens a teacher. All threats deserve a response, but some threats are more
serious than others. There is a substantial difference between a first grader who says, in a fit of anger, "Next time, I'm going to

hit you" and a fifth grader who says, "I know where I can get a gun and next time I might get it and hurt you." Clearly the latter
comment merits a more vigorous response than the former.
When responding to a child who has struck or threatened a teacher, the first and foremost goal is to ensure that he doesn't do it
again. That calls for impressing upon the student the seriousness of his behavior and providing consequences that reinforce
the message. It also is important to attend to the student's emotional needs. Behind his display of bravado, you likely have a
child who is hurting.
Respond to a student's threats even if he is unlikely to carry them out. Students who are angry might make threatening
comments to their teacher as a way of venting frustration and exercising power. Even if you are certain he will not follow
through, talk with him about the inappropriateness of his comments. Help him understand that what he said could be taken as a
threat (with younger students, explain what you mean by "threat") and might cause him serious problems. Tell him that it is okay
to be angry with somebody and to even express that anger verbally, but he has to do it in a way that does not threaten or hurt
another person. Ask him what he might have said differently in this particular case.
Inform the principal immediately if a student makes what you perceive to be a serious threat or hits you. In judging the
seriousness of a student's action, consider his age, his history of aggressive behavior, and his ability to follow through with the
threat. The school district might have a policy for how to handle threats towards teachers. At a minimum, that will involve
contacting the parents. Depending on the nature of the threat, the principal also might opt to inform the police, which will put the
student on notice that threatening a teacher is a serious issue. Consider asking the principal what security measures can be
taken at school to help you feel more at ease.
Distract a volatile student. Things can quickly spiral out of control if a student hits you, so put your energy into preventing that
from happening. If you fear he might strike you again, keep your distance from him, but also try to distract him from what is
making him so angry. You might acknowledge his anger and then try to shift the topic: "Thomas, I know you are feeling angry
with me. I want to hear why you're so upset, but first there is something I want to say to you." At that point, you might ask him
about his favorite hobby or sports team or tell him a joke or funny story; the idea is to say anything that will soften him up and
distract him from what was making him angry. After he has cooled down, you can have a calmer discussion with him about what
was upsetting him.
Convey to the student the seriousness of his behavior. Respond firmly if a student hits you, but maintain your composure.
Tell him in a stern, no-nonsense voice that violence towards anyone in your classroom is unacceptable and that he is never to
do it again. Do not scream at him, do not call him names, do not belittle him. That will antagonize him further and make him
more determined to find ways to upset you.
Use physical restraint sparingly. If a student is out of control and you fear he might hit anyone who comes close to him, tell
other students to move away from him and you should do the same. Avoid physical contact, even of the supportive variety. A
reassuring tap on his shoulder might be misinterpreted and trigger a physical response. You only want to step in and restrain
him physically if he is at risk of hurting another student or himself, or if he is damaging property. Make sure you use the least
force necessary to accomplish your goal.
Confer with the parents. If a student has been aggressive toward you, inform his parents. Insist on a face-to-face meeting
rather than a phone call. You might want to have the principal present at the meeting. After describing the student's behavior,
elicit the parents' perspective, including whether he is aggressive at home and what might be triggering his outbursts. Obtain
parents' suggestions for preventing the behavior in the future and for responding if he should behave similarly again. After
gaining parents' agreement to a plan for managing his behavior, bring the student in so he can hear that you and his parents
are of one mind about his behavior and how it will be dealt with.
Ask other teachers to be on call. This is a useful strategy if the principal is unavailable, or if his or her office is far away from
your classroom. If you have a student with a history of aggressive behavior, ask a teacher whose classroom is close to yours to
be available to help if the student loses control or becomes physically unmanageable. If that happens, ask a responsible
student to go tell the nearby teacher you need help. Although you might never have to call on that teacher, having a backup will
help allay your anxieties and give you some peace of mind.
If concerned for your safety, request the student's removal from your class. You might have concerns for your physical
well being if one of your current students has previously hit or threatened you. If so, talk with your principal and ask that the
student be transferred out of your class on a permanent basis. Make the point that your ability to teach will be compromised if
you feel uncomfortable and unsafe in his presence. The principal might opt to move the student to another classroom or to
place him in a special-education program where he can obtain greater supervision.

Homework Strategies
Homework is a frequent source of tension between teachers and students. For most teachers, homework is both a way to

reinforce academic skills and an opportunity to teach children to be independent learners. For many students, however,
homework is an unpleasant burden to be avoided, forgotten, or raced through.
The challenge for the teacher is to encourage students to take homework seriously and turn it in on time, and to not spend an
inordinate amount of time dealing with homework stragglers.
Homework, of course, is the responsibility of students, and you'll want to reinforce that idea in various ways; however, parents
also are a key resource in your efforts to ensure homework compliance.
Communicate your homework policy to parents. Send home a letter explaining to parents the purpose of homework, when
and how often it will be assigned, how much time you expect students to spend per night on homework, and what resources
are available if their child has difficulty with an assignment. In your letter, you also might offer some homework tips to parents
(for example, have your child do the harder assignments earlier in the evening when he is most alert).
Make your assignments available by telephone or the Internet. Your school might have a system for recording homework
assignments on a telephone message system or the Internet. If not, talk with your principal about starting such a program, or
check out TeacherWeb.com, a Web site that allows you to post homework assignments, announcements, and other educational
material on your own classroom bulletin board. That technology allows absent students to keep up with homework and
prevents students from claiming they didn't know what the homework was. You might also send to parents e-mail messages
listing daily assignments, so they can monitor their child's homework.
Have students begin homework at the end of class. That allows students to ask questions about the assignment and
enables you to identify problems they are having understanding the directions or completing the work. Pay special attention to
students who typically appear to struggle with homework.
Reward students who have completed all assignments with an end-of-week activity. Schedule a Friday afternoon activity
for students who have completed all homework and seatwork. Students who have work that is not completed must spend that
period catching up on assignments in a separate area of the classroom or, if feasible, in another room with adult
Establish an assignment folder for absent students. Keep on your desk a folder containing assignments dating back a
week or so; students can go there to get missed assignments. Keep a separate sign-up sheet for each day's assignments; have
students sign the appropriate sheet to indicate they obtained that day's assignments.
Have students complete a missing homework form. Require that students who fail to bring in homework complete a form for
every missed assignment. The form might include the following questions:

Did you understand the assignment?

Why did you fail to turn in the assignment?

What is your plan to make up the assignment?

What can you do to make sure you do not miss any more assignments?

The simple act of filling out the form might be enough to deter students from missing future assignments.
Assign students homework partners. Partners can help each other make sure assignments are recorded correctly and
necessary materials are taken home. They also can call each other at home to check on the homework assignment.
Adapt the homework to students' needs. If an assignment appears overwhelming for a student, consider shortening it. For
example, you might have that student do a four-paragraph composition instead of a longer essay. As the student's confidence
and skills improve, you can increase the length of the assignment. If a student's skills are well below grade level, consider a
different assignment altogether. If motivation, rather than ability, is a factor in the homework resistance, try to design
assignments to reflect the student's interests and strengths.

Dealing With
Student Aggression
In dealing with a student who is acting aggressively toward his classmates, you want to send a strong message that aggressive
behavior will not be tolerated in your classroom. In addition, you want to help him develop more appropriate ways of settling
disputes with his peers. Be sure, however, to avoid harsh punishment or humiliation. Harshly disciplining an aggressive student
might fuel his anger and make him more determined to continue the aggressive behavior.

Be assertive when breaking up fights. If two elementary school students are engaged in a fight, use a strong loud voice to
stop it. If that doesn't work, you might say something odd ( "Look up! The ceiling is falling!") to divert their attention. If they still
don't stop and you can't separate them, send a student to the office to get help. If a crowd of children is gathering, insist that
they move away or sit down, perhaps clapping your hands to get their attention. After the incident is over, meet with the
combatants together so they can give you their versions of what happened and you can help them resolve any lingering
problems. Also notify the parents.
Respond calmly but firmly to an aggressive student. Speak in a firm, no-nonsense manner to stop a student's aggressive
behavior; use physical restraint as a last resort. When responding to the student, pay attention to your verbal as well as nonverbal language. Even if he is yelling at you, stay calm. Allow him to express what he is upset about without interrupting him
and then acknowledge his feelings. Avoid crossing your arms, pointing a finger or making threats; any of those actions could
intensity his anger and stiffen his resistance.
Consider giving the student a time out. You might conclude that a student's aggressive behavior warrants separating him
from the rest of the class, either to send him a strong message that what he did merits a serious consequence or to protect the
other students. You can do that by giving him a time out in class or by sending him to the office. In the classroom time-out area,
have him sit in a chair and instruct him to remain quiet. Let him know that he can return to the class activity after a
predetermined number of minutes. If he leaves the chair or acts in a disruptive manner, reset the timer to zero.
After the aggressive student cools down, talk with him privately. Although he might expect you to react punitively, surprise
him by reacting supportively. Express your confidence that he can resolve problems without being hurtful to his peers. Tell him
that you think he must be upset about something to lose control as he did and you want to understand what might be bothering
him. If he does open up to you, listen attentively without interrupting. Speaking in a calm voice, tell him that you understand why
he was upset, but stress that he has to find a way to express his anger with words rather than with his hands.
Have the student apologize. You don't want to force an aggressive student to say he is sorry because that might fuel his
anger, however, you do want to strongly encourage him to make amends with the student he hit. If he is willing to do that, it will
help soothe hurt feelings and avoid future conflicts.
Have students who were involved in a conflict fill out a behavior form. After the fighting students have calmed down, have
them complete a form describing what triggered the conflict, how they behaved, and how they could have handled the situation
differently. Meet with both students to discuss their responses. The form provides a record of the incident that you can use
when meeting with parents and/or administrators, and it helps students learn to reflect upon and modify their behavior.

Angry Outbursts in Class (Part 1)

At some point, almost every student becomes angry in school. Anger, after all, is a normal human emotion. Anger isn't a
problem as long as the student expresses her feelings appropriately. It is a problem, however, if she expresses her anger in a
way that is hurtful to her peers or disruptive to the class. A student who displays angry outbursts can throw a classroom into
turmoil. She also can trigger strong feelings in you. Your challenge in working with a student whose emotional temperature
often reaches the boiling point is to control your own feelings as well as those of the student.
Model calm behavior. The most effective way to foster a calm attitude among your students is to engage in that behavior
yourself. Calm begets calm. In dealing with an angry student, avoid arguing with her or threatening her. That only will fuel her
anger and risk triggering an outburst. You can send a strong message without raising your voice. You also need to be aware of
your body language; crossing your arms, for example, might provoke a student's anger. You may want to recognize the reasons
for her anger and let her know that you care about her by saying something like, "I can see that what happened really upset
Do not take angry words personally. In a fit of anger, a student might say things that make your blood boil. Remind yourself
that her comments might be unrelated to anything you said or did. Indeed, her anger might have nothing to do with events in
school; it might stem from home issues instead. If you fear you might react in a way that fuels a student's anger, try taking a
deep breath and counting to five before responding to her.
Have a private, non-threatening talk with the student. The student might expect you to be angry with her for such an
outburst. Surprise her by reacting supportively. Tell her that she must be hurting to lose control as she did. Your effort to
connect with her might encourage her to open up and discuss why she is so angry. If she does open up, listen attentively,

without interrupting. Let her know that getting angry is OK, but she has to find better ways of expressing her anger -- ways that
don't disrupt the class. Offer some suggestions. You might even want to suggest what she can say. Many students act out when
angry because they lack the vocabulary to express their feelings.
Problem-solve with the student. Explain to the student that you think she can learn to better control her temper if the two of
you work together. Ask her what is making her angry. If she has trouble answering the question, suggest some possibilities -including schoolwork, peer problems, and home issues, and ask if you are on target. Consider your other interactions with the
student and ask her if you might be upsetting her in some way. If you are able to identify a cause for the anger, work with her to
develop an action plan to deal with the issues that are provoking her anger. You might even want to role-play various situations
that make her angry and have her try out some new ways of responding to that anger.
Support the academically frustrated student. Having an outburst in class as a result of frustration with schoolwork is not
uncommon for a student. If that's the case with one of your students, give her support and provide accommodations in class to
lessen her frustration and increase her academic confidence.

Angry Outbursts In Class (Part 2)

An angry student might display his temper in a variety of ways. He might be unresponsive to the teacher, disengaged from the
learning process, and withdrawn from his peers. Seemingly minor matters can trigger his anger, causing him to fly off the
handle with little provocation and to lash out at the drop of a hat. A younger child might express his anger through a full-blown
tantrum accompanied by kicking and screaming. Those behaviors can be upsetting to classmates and disturbing to a teacher.
You might find that a volatile student also triggers feelings of anger and frustration in you. Maintain your composure and not
saying or doing anything that fuels his anger or causes the problem to spiral out of control is important. React to the angry
student in ways that cool him down rather than fire him up.
In last week's column, Angry Outbursts, Part 1, I discussed ways to defuse a student's anger and help him learn better selfcontrol. Some additional strategies follow.
Intervene early. Keep a close eye on a student whose behavior suggests an outburst is imminent. Try to distract him by
changing the activity, sending him on an errand, or taking him aside and talking with him about a new topic. Within a few
minutes, he likely will forget what he was angry about.
Have the student engage in activities that allow him to vent his frustrations. You might, for example, have the angry
student draw a picture, work with clay or Play Doh, write in a journal, or take a walk (supervised, of course). You might give him
a ball to keep in his desk and squeeze every time he feels stressed or angry. If you see him engaging in an activity to release
his anger, acknowledge that effort.
Reach out to the student. Angry students typically distrust teachers and perceive them as adversaries. If you have a student
with a chip on his shoulder, make a special effort to connect with him: Greet him at the door every day in a friendly manner, with
a positive comment. When he speaks to you, listen attentively and show respect for what he says. Find a few minutes every so
often to talk with him about his interests and hobbies. Call him at home after he has had a particularly difficult day to show your
concern. Eventually, he might begin to trust you -- and perhaps talk to you about what is upsetting him.
Look for a pattern. Identifying the circumstances surrounding a student's outbursts can help you anticipate when they might
occur and how to prevent them. In observing those incidents, consider the following: What happened right before the outburst?
What was the response of others? Do the outbursts happen at a certain time of the day or in the presence of certain people?
Does the student signal in some way that an outburst is imminent? Answers to those questions can help you figure out what is
fueling the flare-ups and what might be reinforcing them, and help you act accordingly. For example, if a student with a reading
disability often gets upset right before he is expected to read aloud, you'll want to find a way to relieve his obvious discomfort
about oral reading.
Ask the student to write down what happened. After the student has calmed down, ask him to write what triggered his
anger, how he responded, how others reacted, how he could have handled the situation differently, and how you and others can
help him avoid the problem in the future. Review the student's responses with him and use them as a jumping-off point for a
lesson in self-control.
Provide the student with a cooling-off area. Tell the student that when he feels on the verge of an outburst, he should signal
you that he is leaving the room and go to a prearranged spot to calm down. Let him know that that is not a punishment, but a
way of helping him calm down. Explain that he can return when he is feeling more in control. Some possible cooling-off areas
might include the back of the classroom, the classroom next door (ask the teacher if this is okay), the bathroom or water

fountain, the guidance counselor's office, or the main office. You might have him bring along a book, toy, art project, or
schoolwork. Be careful that he does not abuse the privilege by leaving the classroom whenever he wants.

Students Who
"Bother" Classmates
Students "bother" their classmates in a variety of ways. They poke them. They pull their hair. They grab something from them.
They trip them, push them, interrupt them, call them names, spread rumors about them, and ridicule them. Whatever form the
bothering takes, however, the incidents frequently come to your attention.
The most efficient way of dealing with the problem is to encourage the complaining student to stand up for himself and tell his
classmate to stop the bothering behavior. If that doesn't work, however, you might need to become involved -- before a small
problem turns into a large problem.
Be careful, however. Don't automatically assume that the student being complained about is a culprit. The complaining student
might be making a mountain out of a molehill, or be motivated by a desire to get another student in trouble. The complaint
might reflect a conflict between two students, neither of whom is blame-free. Also be careful about punishing a student if you
have not observed the misbehavior.
Screen a student's concern before dismissing it. Be especially attentive to reports suggesting that a student is being bullied,
especially if you hear similar complaints from other students. If you are not sure whether to get involved, tell the student you will
get back to him and then keep a watchful eye on the students to observe their interactions.
Encourage the complaining student to assert himself. If a student tells you that another student is bothering him,
encourage him to tell the classmate to stop. Suggest what he might say ("You're really bothering me and I'd like you to stop," for
example), and role-play with him, if necessary. Tell him to see you again if the classmate continues to bother him after being
asked to stop. If he comes back to you and says he told the classmate to stop but the behavior continued, give the offending
student a consequence if you have observed him bothering the complaining student (see below.)
Provide the student with a consequence. If you have observed a student bothering a classmate without apparent
provocation, and if the student has continued the behavior despite your request to stop, give that student a consequence. The
consequence might be loss of part or all of recess, an after-school detention, or loss of a privilege. Or you might have the
student call his parents in your presence and inform them of his behavior. Let the student know in advance that you will assign
a consequence and tell him what the consequence will be. Be matter of fact and to the point.
Have a one-on-one talk with the student. If you observe a student bothering a classmate, take that student aside and ask
him in a calm, emotionally neutral manner to explain his behavior. Let his comments guide your response; that response which
be a simple appeal for cooperation or a conflict-resolution meeting with you and the two students. Whatever the student's
answer to your question is, help him understand that his behavior might interfere with your teaching and cause other children to
avoid him.
Figure out what is motivating the student. In trying to answer that question, find time to closely observe the student's
behavior. Note the circumstances surrounding the behavior, including: what happened right before and after each incident,
when the incidents most commonly occurred, where the student was when he engaged in the behavior, and whether or not he
targets a particular student. The offending student might be trying to get your attention or the attention of other students, divert
attention from academic problems, or get back at a particular student. If you can identify the underlying cause of his behavior,
you've got a better chance of eliminating it.
Move the student's desk. If the student continues to bother his neighbors despite your requests to stop, consider moving his
desk away from other students' desks. You might even move him to a study carrel placed at the side of the classroom. Tell the
student that he can return to his regular seat if he is cooperative in the new location for a designated period of time.
Restrict the student's physical contact with classmates. If a student is bothering other students as he roams around the
room, limit his movements by designating a work area for him that he cannot leave without your permission. Place a square or
rectangle of masking tape about a foot or so beyond his desk on all four sides. Tell him that the tape marks his "office," and he
must stay within those boundaries. Make sure the student cannot make physical contact with other students from his work
Find ways to give the student positive attention. If you conclude that a student is bothering other students to gain your
attention, look for opportunities to pay attention to him when he is displaying positive behavior. In particular, acknowledge him
when you see him treating his classmates in a kind, respectful, or helpful manner, even if it's only a small gesture. If you are
successful in doing that, he might feel less compelled to seek attention in inappropriate ways.

Arguing in Class

Some children seem to enjoy arguing; they criticize your decisions, challenge your answers, and question your directions.
Children argue not just because they have a gripe, but also because of what they hope to gain from their arguing, namely
attention and power.
If you have an argumentative student, you can find yourself spending considerable time debating, justifying, and explaining.
That might divert you from your lessons and encourage the arguer's classmates to engage in similar behavior.
The problem is not that a student is challenging a teacher. An important goal of education, after all, is to help students become
independent thinkers. The problem is a child who challenges her teachers in an inappropriate manner. Your goal in working with
an argumentative student, therefore, is not to stifle the expression of opinions, but to help her learn to convey those opinions in
an appropriate and respectful manner.
Don't take the bait. The argumentative student wants to elicit a response from you, either by engaging you in debate or by
upsetting you. Neither of those reactions, therefore, will change her behavior. Respond instead in a matter-of-fact manner,
perhaps saying something like "Sarah, I'm sorry you feel that way." Then return to what you were doing without giving her an

Give a brief lesson in communication skills. The first few times the student argues with you, help her see that she can make
her point in another way. You might consider saying something like, "Tonya, you don't need to argue or speak disrespectfully to
get your point across. If you state it in a pleasant, respectful manner, you have a better chance of being heard." You might
suggest an alternative way to state her opinion. Let her know privately that her arguing can be unpleasant to listen to and that
other students might avoid her if she continues to express herself in that way.
Help the student become more aware when she is arguing. Arguing could be so second nature to the student that she
doesn't even realize she's doing it. Try establishing a private signal you can use to cue her when she is being argumentative.
The signal might be as simple as getting her attention and touching your lips with your finger.
Encourage the student to put her argument in writing. Ask her to write down her thoughts on paper and leave them on your
desk. Tell her you will get back to her within a day or two. Make sure to follow up with the student even if you think her point is
without merit.
Make time during the day to hear her argument. Tell the student you are interested in hearing her concerns, but that class
time is not the right time to do so. Ask her to see you either before or after school to discuss the issue. Let her know that you
will listen attentively to her argument as long as she speaks in a calm and respectful manner, and that you expect her to extend
that same courtesy to you. You might want to set a time limit for the discussion.

Backtalking in Class
Few behaviors are more infuriating to teachers than backtalk. Having a student tell you "I don't have to do what you say," or
"You don't know how to teach," can try anyone's patience, and strain even the calmest teacher's temper. A student who speaks
to her teacher in a disrespectful manner, moreover, makes it difficult for the teacher to conduct his lesson, and undermines his
authority in the eyes of the other students. The disrespect becomes a much more serious problem if other students begin to
emulate the behavior of the student who talks back.
If you have a student who talks back to you, it's important to bear in mind that her insolent comments often are unrelated
to anything you've said or done. In some cases, she might be venting frustration about other events in her life; you just serve as
a convenient outlet for her distress. Keeping your composure in the face of a verbal assault isn't easy, but it is the most
effective reaction in the long run. Scolding the student, or threatening or lecturing her, might only give her what she wants and
make her more likely to repeat the disrespectful behavior.
Don't take it personally. Listening to a student attack you without reacting emotionally can be difficult. Try to remind yourself
that her offensive comments probably have little to do with anything you've said or done. She might be upset or hurt about other

concerns and simply taking out her frustrations on you. Appreciating that fact might encourage you to look beyond the student's
expression of anger and identify the source of her distress.
Calmly inform the student that her language is inappropriate. Remaining calm in the face of a verbal barrage isn't easy, but
yelling at the student or lecturing her might give her the attention she wants and strengthen her impulse to act disrespectfully. If
you feel as though you are about to lose your temper, take a few deep breaths and then tell the student in a low-key but firm
manner that you expect her to speak respectfully to you. Do not give in to her demands for attention. You want the student to
realize that her backtalk is making it harder for her to get what she wants. After briefly giving the student that message, return to
what you were doing without engaging her in debate or argument.
Have a one-on-one talk with the student. The student who talks back probably expects a stern reprimand from you; surprise
her by talking with her in a supportive manner. Tell her that although her words came across as disrespectful, you don't think
she meant them that way. Let her know that you're aware that students sometimes use a disrespectful tone when they are
upset about something. Ask her if she is upset about something or if you did something to frustrate her. Find out what you can
do to lessen her frustration. Tell her you expect her to treat you in a respectful manner and that you will treat her the same way.
If the student is agreeable, shake on it.
Let the student know when her behavior is disrespectful. She might talk back so often that she doesn't realize when she's
doing it. If you suspect that's the case, establish with her a private signal you can use to cue her when she's acting in a
belligerent manner. The signal might be as simple as calling her name and raising your eyebrows.
Write down the student's comments. Make sure she sees you writing. If she asks what you're writing down (or even if she
doesn't ask), tell her you're recording what she's saying so you'll have an accurate record to keep in your files and show her
parents. That alone might deter her from using offensive language.
If the student continues to talk back, take action. If her persistent backtalk disrupts your lessons and undermines your
authority, a consequence probably is called for. You might give a younger student in "time out" or keep an older student after
school or in for recess. She might argue with you about your decision to discipline her, but resolve to stay the course and to not
engage her in debate.

Chair Tipping
Most teachers find it unsettling to observe a student leaning back in his chair, with only two legs of the chair in contact with the
floor. Focusing on teaching a lesson can be difficult when a student is teetering on the brink of a dangerous fall. The concern,
moreover, is not unwarranted; a chair tipper can easily tip his chair too far, fall over backwards, and hit his head.
Students often lean back in their seats because the chairs are hard and uncomfortable and they're expected to sit in them for
long periods of time; leaning back is their way of stretching and releasing excess energy.
Chair tippers often are unaware of what they're doing, which can make it a hard habit to break. Chair tipping is not, however, a
behavior you can ignore; there's a real risk that the student will fall. To break a student of this dangerous habit, you need to help
him become more aware of what he's doing and then take measures to make him stop.
Establish a "no tipping" policy. Make sure students understand that chair tipping is not allowed. Point out how easily they
can fall over and hurt themselves. If possible, cite examples of students who have fallen. Explain the consequences for chair
tipping in your classroom, which might include having their chairs taken away or missing recess.
Give chronic chair tippers other opportunities to stretch and release energy. Some students tip their chairs back in an
attempt to move around or stretch. If you have a student who frequently tips back his chair and you conclude he needs to vent
excess energy, allow him to get out of his chair more often. You might even allow him to work standing up for a few moments,
perhaps leaning against a wall as he writes on a clipboard or reads a book.
Address chair tipping immediately. Do not ignore a student who is rocking back and forth in his chair; chair tipping raises
safety concerns and demands an immediate response. Your first reaction should be to tell the student to stop; a simple
"Andrew, all four chair legs on the floor, please" may be all that's necessary.
Consider taking away the student's chair. If the problem persists, you might take away the student's chair and have him
stand -- for a few minutes or for the remainder of the lesson. Explain that removing the chair is not punishment, but a safety
measure, and that you will give it back when you believe he can sit in the chair without tipping it. If the student seems excited
about standing, ignore him; eventually he'll tire of it.

Enlist the help of all your students. Explain that you don't always see a student who is rocking in his chair; ask your students
to help out by giving a gentle reminder to any classmate they see tipping back his chair.
Praise "non-tipping" behavior. When you see a student who is prone to chair tipping sitting properly, acknowledge that
behavior. Find occasions to praise other students who are sitting safely. In that way, you convey to the chair tippers that sitting
appropriately is an effective way to attract your attention.

Constant Chatter
Some students just love to talk. They seem to have opinions about everything and are not shy about expressing them. They
might stop talking in response to a teacher's request, but five minutes later they're at it again. Their talking can become
contagious. If students see that a classmate is allowed to get away with it, they might start talking as well. The resulting chatter
can significantly disrupt your classroom activities and impede your ability to teach a lesson.
In your effort to gain quiet, you need to pay attention to the nature of your instruction, as well as to the structure in your
classroom. That structure needs to include a clear rule regarding talking, and a willingness to enforce that rule consistently
without antagonizing students. Also, bear in mind that you do not want to discourage all talking by your students. Indeed,
students talking among themselves can be a real source of learning, as exemplified by cooperative learning groups.
Communicate your rules regarding talking. In conveying those rules to students, make it crystal clear when students are
allowed to talk and when they are not. You might, for example, tell them it's okay to talk when they raise their hand and are
called on, when they need information to finish an assignment, or when they have completed their seatwork (as long as they
talk in whispers). You might also tell them that they are not allowed to talk when you are teaching, when a classmate is asking
or answering a question, or when they are taking a test. Teach them the signal you will use to cue them to stop talking.
Cue the student to stop talking with a pre-arranged signal. Talk with him privately and agree on a signal you will give when
you need him to stop talking. Get his agreement to the plan and ask for his suggestions about a signal. Some possibilities:
pausing while you are speaking, raising your eyebrows, tugging on your ear, or winking. You might need to say his name to get
his attention before signaling him, but do not stop class to reprimand him. The idea is to give him a reminder without
interrupting the flow of your lesson.
Stand by your students. If a student is talking while you're teaching, move in his direction while continuing to present your
lesson. Stand there for a minute or two, perhaps making eye contact with him. Your presence likely will be sufficient to quiet him
down. It is a good practice generally to move around the room in an unpredictable manner and vary where you stand when you
present your lessons.
Do not bail out a student who has been talking. A student who is gabbing with his neighbor might miss out on directions or
part of the lesson. If he asks you to repeat them, tell him to figure out another way of getting the information. Let him know that
he would have heard the directions if he had not been talking. You might avoid the problem by saying to your students before
giving directions "I'm only saying this once."
Use a noise meter. Try this simple strategy for quieting a noisy class. In the morning draw a noise gauge on the board and
divide it into five or ten parts. Each time the noise reaches an unacceptable level in your class, fill in the gauge up to the next
point. If the noise is really loud, you might go up an additional increment. If the gauge becomes filled to the top, consider
imposing a consequence that you have previously discussed with the class. You also can use this strategy in a positive manner
by rewarding the class at the end of the day if the gauge has not risen above a certain point. Start with an empty gauge every
day. The advantage of this technique is that it helps quiet the class without you speaking to students.
Keep track of noisiness using a stopwatch. Start the stopwatch as soon as the class becomes noisy and stop it when the
class quiets down. Make sure students see you doing it. Let them know that the amount of time they have been talking will be
taken away from their recess or made up after school. You might also reward them if they keep the amount of time they're noisy
under a pre-set standard.

Dealing With
Chronic Complainers
Some students seem to find fault with almost everything. They gripe about the amount of homework, the food in the lunchroom,
their seat in the classroom, and the comments of other students. For those chronic complainers, not much seems to be going
right. Their cup is decidedly half-empty rather than half-full.
Although you want to discourage those students from complaining as a way of seeking attention, you do not want to discourage
them from voicing legitimate grievances or concerns. Nothing is inherently wrong with a student lodging a complaint. Indeed,

you want your students to let you know if they are unhappy with some aspect of the classroom. Their complaints might even
help by prompting you to modify a classroom activity or practice.
Encourage the student to look on the bright side. In response to a complaint, try redirecting her attention to something
positive about the situation. For example, if she complains about the food in school, you might ask her to name her three
favorite cafeteria meals.
Talk privately with the student. Let her know that the two of you need to work together to help her learn to complain less
frequently. Inform her that she is allowed to come to you with concerns, but she needs to make sure it's a problem that is really
bothering her and a problem you can do something about. Help her understand that if she complains too often, adults might not
take her concerns seriously and classmates might start avoiding her.
Praise the student when she makes an effort to solve a problem. Just as you want to ignore her when she's complaining
unceasingly, you want to praise her when she's trying to solve a problem rather than complaining about it.
Look for patterns. Observing when she complains and whom she complains to might tell you why she's complaining so often.
If she's griping frequently to her peers, that might be her way of gaining status with them. If, on the other hand, she complains
mostly to you and your response is to listen and comfort, that might be her way of gaining your attention.
Establish a complaint quota. If you have a student who is a relentless complainer, tell her that she's limited to two or three
complaints per day. Let her know that you will respond to those complaints, but not to any others, so she'll need to think
carefully before making a complaint. Try to stick to the plan, although, of course, you will not want to ignore serious complaints
even if she has exceeded her quota.
Signal the student when she complains. Chronically complaining students might not be aware of how frequently they make
negative comments. Set up a private non-verbal signal with the student that you can use in class to alert her when she is
complaining and to help her become more aware of her behavior.
Tell the student to write down her complaint and put it in the classroom complaint box. Make sure all your students know
about the procedure. Tell them that if they are unhappy about some aspect of the class, they should write it down, sign it, and
put it in the box. Encourage them to suggest a solution for the problem. The box will help minimize disruptions to your lessons
and allow students to voice concerns they are not comfortable expressing to you in person. Make it clear to students that they
can see you in person if there is a problem that needs your immediate attention.
Monitor the student's complaints. Keep track of the number of times she complains each day. Use the results to demonstrate
to her how often she complains and to determine if she is making progress in decreasing the behavior. If she's old enough, you
might have her monitor her own behavior by having her record on a 3 x 5 card each time you signal her that she has made a
complaint. That act of self-monitoring will make her more aware of the behavior and less likely to do it.

Silly Behavior in Class

Almost every class has a clown -- that student who will do or say just about anything to draw attention to himself. Determined to
be in the spotlight, hes willing to persist with his wisecracks or smart-aleck responses until he gets the attention he craves. In
extreme situations, his behavior might encourage other students to follow his lead and engage in antics of their own.
Although other children might think the class clown is funny -- and their reaction to him often reinforces his behavior -- the
teacher rarely views the situation as a laughing matter. Thats because the clowns antics often disrupt the class and interfere
with lessons. The class clown is adept at drawing the attention of other students and impeding their concentration on their
schoolwork. In the process, he often doesnt get his own work done.
Teacher reprimands often have little impact on the class clown. Indeed, he might enjoy the attention even if it is in the form of a
negative comment. Although it might be possible to ignore some of his less disruptive antics, youll need to be more responsive
if you see that his clowning is diverting the attention of your other students.
Have a one-on-one talk with the student. Take the student aside and ask him why he is acting up. Do that in a calm,
emotionally neutral manner -- without anger or sarcasm -- so he feels comfortable talking with you. Let his comments guide
your response, which might include a simple appeal for cooperation. Help the student understand that his behavior interferes
with your teaching. Let him know that there is a time and place for clowning around and your lessons are neither the time nor
the place.
Develop a non-verbal signal to alert the student when his behavior crosses the line. The student might need your
guidance -- perhaps a simple non-verbal signal -- to develop self-control and learn when to stop. Talk with him privately and

decide on a signal you will give when you observe him acting up. Some possibilities include pausing while you are speaking,
raising your eyebrows, tugging on your ear, or winking. You might need to say his name to get his attention before signaling
him, but do not stop class to reprimand him. The idea is to provide a reminder without interrupting the flow of your lesson.
Take away the students audience. A student who clowns around will persist with that behavior if he is successful getting
others to pay attention to him. You might be able to lessen the disruptive behavior if you can persuade other students not to
respond when he is cutting up. Find a time when the student is out of the room and talk briefly with your other students, asking
for their cooperation in not responding to his antics. If students cooperate, make sure you do the same by going ahead with
your lesson.
Stand near the student. If a student is cutting up while you're teaching, move in his direction while continuing the lesson.
Stand near him -- perhaps making eye contact -- for a minute or two. Your presence likely will be sufficient to quiet him down. In
general, it is a good practice to move around the room in an unpredictable manner and vary where you stand when you present
your lessons.
Provide the student with positive attention. If you conclude that the students behavior is designed to gain your attention or
that of his classmates, look for opportunities to pay attention to him when he displays positive behavior or has an academic
success. Similarly, you might find ways to highlight his accomplishments to others in the class. In that way, he might feel less
compelled to seek attention in inappropriate ways. Be on the lookout for ways to channel his energy constructively and for
opportunities for the student to use his entertaining qualities productively -- in the school play, for example.
Develop a behavior modification system for the student. Provide the student with classroom privileges or material rewards
if he shows evidence of improving his behavior. An easy way to do that is to divide a 3x5 card into ten boxes and tape it to the
students desk. Set a timer for 30 minutes at the beginning of the day. If the student does not act up within the 30-minute period,
put your initials in one of the ten boxes and reset the timer. If he does act up, reset the timer immediately, but do not initial the
card. When all ten boxes are initialed, provide the student with an agreed-upon reward or privilege. Adjust the length of the
period and the number of boxes needed to obtain a reward with the age of the student and the severity of the problem.
Identify when the student is most likely to act up. Note the circumstances of the students behavior. Pay attention to what
happens just before and after incidents, when the incidents usually occur, and where the student is when he acts up. You might
observe that his antics are worse at certain times of the day -- during a particular class, while taking a test, or while doing
seatwork, for example. Recognizing when he is making noise might lead you to understand why he is doing it. He might be
acting up because he finds the work boring or tedious or difficult, because he is confused about what to do, or because he has
difficulty focusing for a sustained period of time. Identifying the reason for his behavior might suggest a need to adjust the level
of the work, the length of the activity, or the way you present the lesson.
Consider a classroom consequence. If the problem persists, give the student one or two warnings and then provide a
consequence. Some possible disciplinary measures include missing part or all of recess, staying after school, or losing a
privilege. Or you might have the student call his parents in your presence to inform them of his behavior. Be matter of fact and
to the point when letting him know about the consequence. If his behavior is severely disrupting the flow of your lessons,
consider removing him from his seat and placing him away from the rest of the class. Tell him that he can listen to the lesson
but cannot participate. Let him know that he can return to his seat when he is ready to behave properly.

Constant Crying
Students cry for a variety of reasons. For some, the crying is less a reaction to what is happening than an effort to get a
reaction -- typically attention or sympathy -- from someone else. Such students have learned that crying is an effective way to
gain attention or manipulate others into giving them what they want.
Whatever the cause, crying episodes in the classroom interfere with lessons, distract other students, and cost the crying
student and her classmates valuable teaching time. They need to be addressed.
In responding to a student who is crying, keep in mind, however, that crying is not necessarily a behavior problem. Indeed, a
student might be crying for very understandable reasons; the crying might be an appropriate response to a distressing situation.
Comfort the genuinely distressed child. If you conclude, the student is upset about something and is not crying just to get
her way or gain your attention, respond in a soothing manner. Dignify her distress by letting her know it's okay to cry, but also
tell her that you want to help her. Ask her why she is upset. If she has difficulty putting the reason into words, suggest some
possible causes and have her shake her head yes or no.

Find out what triggers a student's crying episodes. Talk with other adults who are involved with the student to see if she
cries at specific times of the day. Make note of where she is and what she's doing when she cries. Answers to those questions
can help identify what might trigger or maintain a crying episode, and help you determine what you can do to solve the
Talk with the student's parents. If a student cries often in class, ask her parents to come in for a conference. Find out if she is
quick to cry at home and if a particular family situation is upsetting her. Tell the parents how you plan to handle the crying and
get their reaction. Keep them posted about their child's progress.
Discipline the student in a matter-of-fact manner. If a student tends to get upset or cry when disciplined, don't back off on
consequences you think are warranted, but do use a soft voice and a calm demeanor. Make it clear you are displeased with the
behavior, not with the student. Explain briefly why the behavior is inappropriate and why it causes a problem for you and for her
Prepare the student for changes in routine. New situations, especially those involving meeting new people, can throw some
students for a loop. If a student becomes upset and tends to cry when the class or school routine is altered, let her know ahead
of time about upcoming changes. Discuss those changes with her so she feels more prepared and in control.
Ignore the crying. If you are confident that a student is not hurt or genuinely distressed, but is crying to get attention or to get
her own way, try not to give her what she wants. Ignore her. The crying might intensify briefly, but try to stay the course. Give
her immediate and positive attention when she stops crying.

Student Disorganization
Elementary school teachers often find they spend too little time teaching their students and too much time helping them get
organized. Organizational problems take various forms, including forgetting to bring necessary materials to class, losing
papers, having problems getting started with a project or report, using time inefficiently, not completing seatwork, and forgetting
his school schedule. Even such simple tasks as bringing a pencil to class can elude the disorganized student.
Elementary teachers, particularly those in the upper grades, must recognize the importance of focusing on those skills because
they will be essential in middle school, when students will be expected to keep track of their assignments and school
responsibilities with little teacher assistance. Fortunately, organizational skills can be taught.
Encourage responsibility for bringing materials to class. Review with students the materials you expect them to bring to
school every day. Do spot checks periodically. If a student forgets to bring the proper materials, loan her what she needs, but
consider having her give you some "collateral" to be returned when she gives back the borrowed materials. You might keep a
"pencil stubs" box on your desk or near the pencil sharpener, so students who forget a pencil do not need to disrupt the
Designate a place for students to turn in seatwork. Having students turn in their work as soon as they complete it will lessen
their chance of misplacing it. You might designate a box, file divider, or file drawer for that purpose, with individual student
folders arranged alphabetically. Or you might have color-coded folders for each assignment. You also might have students
check off that they have turned in the assignment.
Have students organize their papers in folders. Students might have a folder for completed work, a folder for work to be
done, and a folder for parent information. Or they might have different folders for each subject. Keeping color-coded folders in
their desks will allow students to quickly access their work. You can help students avoid being overwhelmed by loose papers by
having them bring completed work home on a specific day of the week. Let parents know of the procedure so they can help
their child sort through the papers.
Give students a container for small items. Such items as pencils, pens, erasers, and scissors easily can be lost in a desk or
backpack. You can help students solve the problem by placing the items in a plastic zippered pouch kept in a binder, box, or
resealable plastic bag.

Require older elementary students to use a three-ring binder. Students in third grade and above can use a three-ring
binder with subject dividers and a pouch for pens and pencils. Suggest they get a binder with pockets or three-hole punched
folders and label one pocket or folder "To Bring Home" for homework to be done and notes for parents, and another "To Bring
to School" for completed homework and notes from parents. You also might have students place in their binders a monthly
calendar, on which they can indicate tests, projects, and important school activities. Punch holes in the handouts you give to
students so they easily can put them in their binders.
Provide each disorganized student with a classroom buddy. Select a mature, responsible classmate who can help the
disorganized student with classroom tasks when you are unavailable. Another way of doing that is to group students at tables,
with students expected to help each other when questions arise.
Teach students memory aides. Teach students the acronym PANTS to remind them of what they need to bring to and from
school every day (P = Parent information, A = Assignments, N = Notebook, T = Textbooks, and S = Student). Show them how to
make a checklist of school tasks and that they can tape to their desks or binders.
Meet briefly with each disorganized student before he or she goes home. Check to make sure each student has the
proper materials and has written down his or her homework assignments correctly.

Teaching the ESL Student

Students who speak English as a second language (ESL) comprise a significant percentage of the nation's school population.
Experts estimate that the number of ESL students is growing two and half times faster than the number of students for whom
English is the primary language.
Although ESL students offer schools an opportunity to honor cultural diversity, they also present instructional challenges for
teachers. Those include teaching them academic skills, supporting their English proficiency, helping them adjust to the school
setting, and helping them adapt to the American culture. Schools have not always succeeded in meeting those goals.
Help the student feel a sense of belonging. Find ways to make her feel welcome (for example, make sure to say her name
correctly). Show an interest in her cultural heritage. If she's comfortable, ask her questions about her customs and suggest she
bring in items of interest from her culture. You might hang in the classroom signs with some welcoming messages in the
student's primary language, as well as a map of her country.
Find a student, staff member, or community member who speaks her primary language. This person can not only
interpret for the child but also help her feel less isolated and provide someone in school she can talk to in her native language.
You might even arrange for that person to present a brief lesson in the student's primary language, helping other students
understand and appreciate what it's like to learn in another language.
Teach the student key words. If she is receiving extra ESL instruction, her ESL teacher likely will teach her practical
vocabulary. But you also should make sure she knows such school-based words as student, teacher, principal, nurse, book,
reading, math, writing, board, homework, clock, cafeteria, lunch, playground, recess, and bell. You might draw pictures on index
cards and label the objects on the back. Keep a box with those cards in your classroom and add to it as necessary.
Find opportunities for the student to succeed. Classmates might perceive a student who struggles with English as not very
smart. Help them perceive her in a different light by showcasing her accomplishments and talents. For example, you might
have her speak to the class in her native language and answer her classmates' questions while another person interprets for
Write important information on the board. An ESL student often will not catch everything you say. To avoid her getting lost in
oral instructions, get in the habit of writing on the chalkboard information such as seatwork and homework assignments, dates
of tests, and items for parents. Because you will not be able to write everything down, you will want to check with the student
periodically to make sure she understood your directions.
Assign a classmate to be the student's "buddy." Ask one of your more responsible and friendly students to assist the
student in such tasks as finding her way around school, mastering classroom routines, and understanding directions. That will
free you from having to constantly monitor the student. You might want to arrange for different students to be her "buddy" for
various parts of the school day so the responsibility does not fall to one student.
Keep track of his language progress. You might record conversations with the student at different times of the year to show
her how she has progressed in her mastery of the English language.
Encourage the parents' involvement. Parents of ESL students, who also have limited English facility, might feel out of the
school loop. Help them feel part of the school by arranging for an interpreter at conferences and for school communications to
be translated into their native language.

Forgetful Behavior
Some students practice forgetfulness with an almost religious zeal. Their memory lapses can extend to all aspects of school,
from copying down assignments to bringing in lunch money; from remembering their daily schedule to getting permission slips
signed. If you have many students who are memory challenged, you can find yourself spending considerable time tending to
their needs, often at the expense of classroom lessons.
Remembering school responsibilities is an essential part of being a student. Fortunately, for most students, it also is a skill that
can be learned. Many students can be helped to remember more effectively through memory aids and classroom
accommodations. Others require an absence of aid; they need to learn from their mistakes without being bailed out by the
Allow students to borrow items on the condition they return them. Set up a loaner box with such classroom supplies as
pens, pencils, rulers, erasers and paper. Let students borrow those items, but have them sign a checkout sheet. Insist on the
items' return at the end of each day and have students note the time of return on the checkout sheet.
Avoid bailing out the student. If you continually bail out a student when she forgets, she will have little incentive to remember.
So, help her learn responsibility by letting her experience the natural consequences of forgetting. For example, if the student
forgets to bring in her instrument, she can't play in the band concert. If she forgets to bring in her book report on the day it is
due, she gets a lower grade. If, despite repeated requests, she forgets to bring in a signed permission slip allowing her to be on
the safety patrol, she cannot participate. (Allow some latitude, however. You might not want her to miss a class trip because
she forgot to bring back a permission slip by the due date.)
Assign the student a classroom partner. Ask the partner to help the student, by reminding her, when necessary, of
classroom rules and routines and by making sure she takes home the materials she needs.
Give the student some memory aids. Teach her the acronym PANTS to remind her what she needs to bring to and from
school every day: P = Parent information; A = Assignments; N = Notebook; T = Textbooks; and S = Student, namely herself.
You also might have her make a list of end-of-the-day tasks that she can tape to her desk or binder.
Give the student a second set of books for home. Consider doing that with a student who consistently forgets to bring her
books home -- or back to school. That way, she has no excuse for not doing her homework or class work. True, you might be
bailing out the student by doing that, but violating that principle is acceptable if it allows the student to complete her
Use a signal or word to jog the student's memory. If a student tends to forget class routines or rules, remind her with an
agreed-upon gesture or phrase. Or ask her a question to trigger her memory: "Jenna, where are you supposed to put your
homework?" or "Serena, what is the classroom rule about using the bathroom?"
Send a reminder note to the student's parents. If a student is prone to forgetting about upcoming events or field trips, or
deadlines for tests, projects, or book reports, send home a note informing her parents of the events and deadlines. You might
extend that practice by sending the notices to all parents to the class. Send the notice the same time each week or month so
parents come to expect it. You might attach permission forms to this notice too.

Gum Chewing in Class

Educators have differing views about whether students should be allowed to chew gum in school. Some believe that gum
chewing should be prohibited because it can impede the learning process. They contend that gum chewing can be noisy and
distracting to other students and that students who stick their stale gum on classroom furniture cause an unsightly mess.
Others say that monitoring gum chewing and disciplining students who violate policies against it is a waste of teachers' valuable
time. Whatever your views on gum chewing might be, be sure your efforts to deal with the issue interfere as little as possible
with classroom lessons.
Learn your school policy. Some school districts prohibit gum chewing altogether; others leave it up to the discretion of
individual teachers. Talk with your school principal or check your district's code of conduct to learn the policy at your school. If
gum chewing is forbidden, make that clear to your students at the beginning of the year when you are discussing other school
and classroom rules. If your school does not have a policy against gum chewing, make your own rules and "stick" by them.
If you plan to allow gum chewing, set limits. You might decide to allow gum chewing as long as it doesn't interfere with your
ability to teach or your students' ability to concentrate. Tell students that they may chew gum as long as they do it silently and
dispose of it appropriately. Explain to students that if you hear gum chewing, the offending student will be asked to spit out the
gum. If students do not follow your "no noise" and "no mess" policy, you'll probably want to prohibit gum chewing altogether.

Deal with a gum-chewing student quickly. If gum chewing is prohibited, either by you or by the school, respond to gum
chewers in a way that is minimally disruptive to the class. You might, for example, respond in one of the following ways:

Look at the student and say, "Gum, please."

Say the student's name, point to your mouth or to the posted rule, and then point to the wastebasket.

Bring the wastebasket to the student and point to it.

Whatever approach you use, keep an eye on the student to make sure he follows your instruction.

If the problem continues, give the student a consequence. Don't make a big deal of a student who is caught chewing gum
once or twice; if it happens more often, however, you might require that he stay in for recess or serve after-school detention.
Don't contact parents unless it becomes a constant problem.
Response actively to inappropriate gum deposits. If a student sticks gum under his desk, make him remove it. If he does it
a second time, you might have him stay after school and remove gum from under all the desks.
Don't confront a student who denies chewing gum. When reprimanded for chewing gum, a student might claim that he is
not chewing gum. Don't make an issue of it. Nothing will be gained by escalating the gum chewing into a confrontation or a
power struggle. In fact, if you are aware that a student is chewing gum, a better strategy might be to avoid dealing with him
directly at all. Simply announce to the class, "I would like anyone chewing gum to get rid of it now."

Hyperactive Students
A hyperactive student isn't hard to recognize. She's the student who's constantly on the move, bouncing from one task to
another and rarely completing any. Even sitting in her seat, she's anything but still, as she fidgets, wiggles, twists, and turns.
She's a "mover and shaker" in the literal sense of the words.
It would be nice if teachers could simply turn off a switch with hyperactive students to calm their behavior, but there are no easy
answers with these children. Indeed, teaching a hyperactive student can be one of the most challenging management problems
teachers face. It also can be one of the most exasperating, especially if she's disrupting your ability to teach and other students'
ability to learn.
The challenge in working with hyperactive children is to balance their needs with the needs of your other students. You want to
create an optimal learning environment for the hyperactive student, mindful of the issues of peer rejection and low self-esteem.
At the same time, you want to minimize the disruption to your other students. That requires considerable structure, support, and
consistency. It also demands patience and restraint in the face of often difficult and frustrating behavior.
Identify the source of the student's high activity level. Although hyperactivity might stem from an attention deficit disorder
that has a physiological basis, it also might result from other causes. It might be, for example, that the work is too hard for the
student, causing her to feel frustrated, or too easy, causing her to become bored. Also, you need to determine whether the
student is confused about the directions or lacks the materials needed to complete the task. In addition, consider whether her
high activity level reflects agitation or distress.
Adjust your classroom standards. You might have to rethink your assumption that all students must be seated at their desks,
facing forward, feet on the floor, and backs straight. For example, you might allow a hyperactive student to stand up near her
desk, walk around with a clipboard, or read while standing as long as she doesn't disrupt other students. Some teachers even
allow their more active students to work in the hall (under a watchful eye), so they can walk around when they're feeling
Give the student a break. A hyperactive student tends to get restless sooner than other students. If so, give her a breather.
For example, you might have her work for 20 minutes on a math assignment, then take a break for five minutes, and then begin
work on a reading task. Have the student engage in some movement during the break, going to the bathroom or getting a drink
of water, for example.
Provide opportunities for the student to release excess energy. Allow her to redirect her seemingly boundless energy by
engaging in constructive activities rather than moving around aimlessly. In that way, she learns to be responsible and contribute
to the class while releasing energy that might otherwise disturb other students. Feeling a sense of belonging is especially
important to the hyperactive student. The following are some examples of activities you might ask her to do: decorate a bulletin
board, collect or distribute papers, feed the classroom pets, or deliver a message to another teacher.
Allow the student to manipulate objects at her desk. Some hyperactive students are able to play with small items and still
stay on task and remain in their seats. Indeed, doing so might help them pay attention. Consider letting an active student play
with such items as a paper clip or a pipe cleaner as long as she can remain on task. Or you might let her squeeze a stress ball

to release tension while sitting in her seat. Another stress reliever is to have her place an elastic exercise band under her desk
and press her legs against it while sitting at her desk.
Set up a workspace for the student. Establish physical parameters for her by placing masking tape around her desk to make
a square or rectangle, putting the tape about a foot or so beyond the desk on all four sides. Tell her that this is her "office."
Explain that she can stand up or move around as long as she stays within the boundaries of her workspace, but that she can't
leave the space without your permission. This will give her a feeling of freedom, but also help her learn some self-control. With
time, you might want to make the space smaller by bringing the tape closer to her desk.
Establish a signal to cue a student that she is out of her seat. Just as you might with a student with an attention problem,
arrange a subtle signal with a hyperactive student to alert her that she needs to return to her seat. That might be a wink of your
eye, a touch on your shoulder, or a pull on your ear. You might need to quietly say her name to get her attention. If necessary,
follow up the signal with a verbal reminder to the student to return to her seat.
Ticket, please. If the student gets out of her seat often to do such things as sharpen her pencil or ask a question, you might
give her a limited number of tickets and require that she give you one when she wants to leave her seat. When she runs out of
tickets, she is not allowed to leave her seat. If she does, take away three minutes of her recess. That will help teach her selfcontrol while lessening her out-of-seat behavior.
Arrange for the student to wear a weighted vest. This is a vest with extra weight that has been used to help distractible or
hyperactive students calm down and relax. Some teachers also have used moist neck rolls with hyperactive children. When
worn around the neck, they can provide weight, heat, and tactile stimulation that might lessen stress and calm the student. If
your school has an occupational therapist, ask her if those items are appropriate and available for your student.

Messy Behaviors
It's not hard to identify a messy student. His desk -- which seems to swallow up papers almost as quickly as you can hand them
out -- is a dead giveaway. Inside, you'll find a jumbled hodgepodge of such items as books and school supplies, toys, crumpled
papers -- even food. His backpack is a black hole that papers mysteriously disappear into. The messy student spends much of
the school year searching for materials and redoing lost papers. In the process -- as he rummages through his desk or delves
into his backpack -- he disrupts the entire class.
Set aside a time for students to clean out their desks. Some students won't be able to keep their desks clean unless you
build the activity into your class schedule. Establish regular times -- perhaps on Friday afternoons -- when students are
expected to clean out their desks. Allow students whose desks already are clean and those who quickly, finish cleaning to
choose a fun activity to do while their classmates clean. If a student appears to feel overwhelmed by the task of cleaning
a very messy desk, suggest that he put the items from his desk into a bag and take them to a table to sort through. You might
have to help him figure out what to do with each item in the bag.
Spot-check students' desks. Acknowledge students who have kept their desks neat. Students who have not kept their desks
neat should be given a deadline for cleaning them. Put those students' names and a future date on the chalkboard as a
reminder. Tell the students that you'll inspect their desks on that date -- and be sure to follow through. Any student whose desk
is not cleaned by the deadline should be kept in from recess until his desk is clean.
Demonstrate to students how to keep their desks neat. Keeping a neat desk does not come naturally to many students.
Some will need to be taught how to do it. As you give a student lessons in neatness, however, keep in mind that a meticulous
desk is not your goal. You simply want the student to be organized enough that he can find what he needs with little effort. You
might point out the items the student should not have in his desk and suggest that he tape to his desk a list of items he may
keep there. Allow a student to keep no more than two or three silent reading books in his desk. To help him find his textbooks
quickly, you might have him write the subjects on the spines of the books.
Have the messy student keep the top of his desk clear. A student might have difficulty concentrating on his work if
extraneous materials on the desktop are competing for his attention. Encourage him to form the habit of clearing unneeded
items off the top of his desk before he begins a new assignment.
Have the student clean out his backpack as a homework assignment. Cleaning out his backpack at home keeps the
student from using valuable class time to do so. You might need to ask for the parents' help in completing this task,
Provide the student with a container for storing school supplies. You might give the messy student a plastic zippered
pouch to keep in his binder, or a resealable plastic bag or storage box to keep in his desk. That will allow the student to find
needed items quickly without having to take time to search his desk or backpack.

Have students keep their papers in folders. You might want students to have a different folder for each subject area, or to
have separate folders for completed work, work to be done, and papers to go home. You might ask students in the upper
elementary grades and above to obtain a three-ring binder organized by subjects, with pocket folders that can go into the
Send home finished work. Designate one day each week for students to bring home completed work. Inform parents of that
day so they can help their child sort through them.

Noise Making in Class

Students make noise in a variety of ways. They tap their pencils, click their tongues, sing a song, or crack their knuckles. The
noises can drive you and other students to distraction. Although you might be able to ignore some extraneous noises, others
interfere with your lesson or with your students' ability to concentrate. At those times, an active response is required.
Make certain the student is aware she's making noise. A child might tap her fingers or roll her pencil without knowing she is
doing it. If one of your students appears unaware that she's making noise, take her aside and tell her specifically what she is
doing that is distracting to others. Explain that if she makes that noise in the future, you will signal her that she's making noise
and needs to stop. Agree on a cue (touching your finger to your lips, for example) to alert the student. If the noise occurs again,
don't stop what you're doing to reprimand the student. The idea is to remind her of what she is doing without interrupting the
flow of your lesson.
Move toward the student. If she's making noise while you're teaching, walk in her direction while continuing to talk to the class.
Stand near the student for a minute or two, perhaps making eye contact with her. Your presence might be enough to get her to
Move the student to a study carrel. If you can't get her to stop making the noise, and if the noise is distracting to other
students, you can lessen the distraction by having the student use a study carrel placed to one side of the classroom. Have the
student sit in the carrel only for short periods of time, and don't use this technique at all if she seems to feel isolated from her
classmates. You might make the seating more appealing by telling the student that it is her "office."
Try to determine when the student is most likely to make noise. You might find that she is noisy at certain times -- late in
the day, when doing seatwork, while taking a test, or during a particular class for example. Knowing when the student makes
noise could help you understand why she makes noise. A student might make noise because she finds the work tedious, too
easy, or too difficult; because she is uncertain about what to do; because she has difficulty focusing for a long periods, and so
on. Identifying the reason for the noise might help you recognize a need to adjust the level of the student's work, the length of
the activity, or the way you present information.
Give the student positive attention. If your observations suggest that a student is making noise to get attention, look for
occasions to pay attention to her while she's exhibiting positive behavior or enjoying an academic success. A student who's
recognized for positive behavior will feel less driven to seek attention in inappropriate ways.

Note Passing in Class

Passing notes is a time-honored method of classroom communication. For many students, exchanging secretive, and often
personal, information is an exciting way to pass the time in school, especially during lessons or classes they find boring.
Although rarely a serious problem, note passing suggests that the students involved are not attending to the lesson. Moreover,
the contents of the notes -- which can include gossip about other students -- can trigger student conflicts.
A simple request to stop usually is sufficient to deal with the problem. If the note passing takes place during a test, disrupts a
lesson, or triggers conflict, however, you might want to respond in a more serious manner.
Make clear your rule against note passing. When discussing classroom rules, tell students that passing notes is not allowed
because it indicates that those involved are not paying attention to the lesson. Point out that some notes can cause problems
between students. Note passing is not a major disciplinary concern, however; don't spend a lot of time discussing the issue.
Discuss the matter in a low-key manner. Note passing rarely demands more than a quick reprimand, so don't make a big
deal out of it. If you see a student passing a note, simply say, "Sarah, could you please put that away. Passing notes is not
allowed during class," and proceed with the lesson.

Do not embarrass the note passer. You probably are displeased that the student isn't paying attention to the lesson, but resist
the impulse to read the note. Certainly do not read the note aloud or make the student read it aloud. Such a response only will
humiliate the student, making her less likely to cooperate with you in the future.
Separate note-passing students. Students find it much more difficult to pass notes back and forth if they're seated at opposite
sides of the room.
Move the note passer to the front of the class or near your desk. Your primary concern isn't that she's passing notes; your
concern is that she isn't paying attention to the lesson. Moving her closer to you allows you to monitor her more closely; she will
be less likely to pass notes and more likely to pay attention.
If the problem persists, treat the note passing as a disciplinary matter. If the same students exchange notes in class after
being asked to stop, speak with them after class and ask for their cooperation. Let them know that the note passing interferes
with your lesson and, if it continues, you will treat it as a disciplinary matter. If the note passing occurs a third time, consider
giving those students an after-school detention or contacting their parents.

Culminating Respect
The basic mission of school is to teach children the three R's, however a fourth R merits teachers' attention as well. That R
stands for respect. Just as students need to master reading, writing, and arithmetic, they also need to learn the importance of
acting respectfully toward their teachers and classmates.
Children can be cruel. We only need witness the unkind things they do to one another -- name-calling, pulling a chair out from
under a classmate, making a snide comment, excluding another child from a game, and so on -- to appreciate a child's capacity
for cruelty. But if children have a capacity for cruelty, they also have a capacity for caring. An important part of helping students
learn to act in a respectful manner is to stimulate their innate potential for kindness.
Establish a class signal to alert students to disrespectful behavior. Develop a non-verbal
signal -- such as a thumbs-down sign -- to let a student know he is saying or doing something
rude or disrespectful. (You may need to say the student's name first to get his attention.) In that
way, you can nip in the bud disrespectful behavior with minimal disruption to the rest of the class.
You might even start seeing your students give the signal to one another.
Catch students being kind. Acknowledge students when you see them acting in a kind or helpful manner. Describe the
specific behavior you observed. Do it publicly (unless you think it would embarrass him) in order to spur other children to
engage in acts of kindness as well. As an example, you might say to a student: "Jesse, it was so nice of you to sit with Julio
after he hurt himself on the playground. That was a very caring thing to do." Make a special effort to find something positive to
say about students who are prone to unkind behavior.
Teach the vocabulary of kindness. Make it easy for students to talk kindly to one another by giving them the words and
phrases they need. On the bulletin board, post a list of "Terms of Respect," phrases that can be used to convey courtesy and
caring. The list might include such phrases as "please;" "thank you;" "excuse me;" "I like the way you ...;" "Do you want to play
with us?;" "You did a great job;" and so on. Encourage students to suggest additional phrases.
Role-play social situations with students. Pose some common school scenarios (for example, a student calling a classmate
a name or cutting in front of him in line). Ask students how they might handle the situation in a respectful manner. In this way,
students can hear what their classmates might say and do, and also have a chance to try out their own responses.
Have a courtesy display on the bulletin board. When you observe an act of kindness performed by one of your students,
describe the act on a 3 x 5 card or a heart-shaped piece of paper, write the student's name on it, and tack it to a bulletin board
display. Encourage students to nominate classmates for inclusion on the display, or have students create cards for their
classmates and submit them to you. That might lead to a chain reaction of compliments, one that has a contagious effect on
your students.

Frequent Absences
A student who frequently is absent from school demands the teacher's attention. It might be true that the student genuinely is
sick; it also might be true that he is absent for reasons other than illness. Frequent absences can reflect school-related anxiety
-- and be the precursor to a more significant problem.

In most cases, with teamwork by parents and teacher, a child's anxiety about attending school can be resolved and the child
quickly returned to full time attendance. In some cases, however, the anxiety can take the form of resistance to attending
school. At its most extreme, school resistance can become school phobia -- also called school refusal.
The problem of school refusal requires immediate attention. Prolonged absence from school can result in significant academic
and social difficulties. In addition, the longer a student is absent from school, the greater his anxiety about returning is likely to
become -- and the harder it will be to get him back.
Some students' resistance to school is related to issues within the family. For others, it stems from events that happen in
school. Some anxiety-provoking situations that can cause resistance to attending school include difficulties with schoolwork,
ridicule or bullying by classmates, an embarrassing incident, lack of acceptance by peers, loss of a close friend, and fear of a
strict teacher. In identifying what is causing a child's anxiety, think about what might have changed for him and carefully
observe his interactions with his peers.
Call home. If one of your students has been absent for even a short time, contact the parents to find out the reason. If you find
that he will be out for a lengthy period, arrange for classmates to write him letters telling him they hope he comes back soon.
When he returns, instruct students to say simply that they are glad he is back, and not bombard him with questions about why
he was absent.
Give priority to the student's immediate return to school. Encourage the parents of a school-resistant child to send him to
school even if he is upset. Reassure them that the school has dealt with the problem many times and that most children adjust
and calm down after a short period of discomfort. Let them know that the school will make their child as comfortable as possible
and will help him cope with his distress. Advise them not to argue with or yell at their child before school, but to tell him in a
calm, matter-of-fact way that all children must go to school and that it is not possible for him to stay home.
If necessary, adjust the student's schedule. Ideally you want the student to return to his regular school schedule. You might
find, however, that the only way you can get him to come back is to make some adjustments to his school day, including:

allowing the student to go home for lunch.

inviting the parent to come to school to eat lunch with the student.

allowing the student to call home during the day.

arranging for the parent to stay in school for part of the day (for example, by volunteering in the library).

arranging for the student to attend school for only a part of the day.

With time, you will want to gradually phase out those adjustments as the child begins to feel more settled in school. Strenuously
avoid placing the student on home instruction; that will make it harder to get him to return to school in the future.
Get to the source of the problem. If the child's physician has ruled out a medical basis for his frequent absences and you
suspect they are due to school anxiety, schedule a meeting with the parents. You also might involve the child in part or all of the
discussion. If he has difficulty putting his concerns into words, mention some potential sources of anxiety in school. His
reactions might tell you when you hit a nerve: he might look away, pause, or become teary-eyed when you mention a sensitive
area. If you are able to pinpoint the source of his distress, take his concern seriously and work together to develop some
Weather the student's distress. Brace yourself for a crying episode after the parent drops off the student -- although you
might be surprised at how quickly he calms down. The behaviors might be his way of testing your resolve. You also might try to
distract him by involving him in an activity he enjoys. Whatever you do, avoid the impulse to call the parents to have them pick
up their child. That will make the next day that much harder. If he complains of a stomachache or headache and you conclude it
is anxiety-related, send him to the nurse, but make sure she is aware of the importance of keeping him in school.
Make school inviting for the student. Ask the student's parents what kinds of activities are comforting to him, and try to
incorporate those activities into the class routine. You also might take a few minutes each day to talk with the student about his
interests or activities, to help him see you and, by association, school in a positive light. In addition, help him develop
friendships with classmates so he feels a sense of belonging and acceptance in school.
Suggest that the student carry a security item. The student's separation anxiety might be eased by carrying to school an
item that connects him with home, such as a picture of his family or a favorite doll, book, or toy.
Provide incentives for school attendance. Talk with the parents about rewarding the student for attending in school. He
might, for example, receive points for participating in class, not crying in school, staying in school all day, and completing
assignments. Those points could be exchanged for special privileges or tangible rewards, in school or at home. As the student's
attendance stabilizes, you can gradually phase out the rewards.

Completing Seatwork
The failure to complete seatwork satisfactorily can be caused by a variety of factors, including difficulty understanding the
directions, an inability to do the work, distractibility, poor time management, or lack of motivation. A student might have
mastered the art of procrastination and simply have trouble settling down to work. She might have learned to take the path of

least resistance, and look like she's working while doing as little as she can. She might complete the work, but do so
Although the causes vary, the results often do not. A student might come to believe that her failure to complete seatwork will not
catch up to her, however, almost invariably, it does.
When reacting to a student who has trouble completing seatwork, you need to figure out why she is not completing in-school
assignments. That requires a problem-solving mode in which you identify the source of the problem and then, if it's warranted,
adapt your expectations and tailor your instruction to meet her needs.
Help the student un-clutter her desk. Part of a student's difficulty in finishing seatwork might be the clutter on her desk,
causing her to have trouble focusing. Instruct her to eliminate those visual distractions by putting away all materials except
those needed for the current assignment.
Devise a way for students to get your attention. When students need help, you might have them signal you in a nonintrusive way by placing a visual cue on their desks. That might be a small flag stuck in a piece of clay, a 6" x 8" card folded in
half in the shape of a tent, or a Styrofoam cup placed upside down on their desks. Using those types of signals allows students
to let you know they need help while they continue to work until you can get to them.
Signal the student that she is off task. Arrange a private signal with the student to encourage her to focus on the seatwork
assignment. That signal might be a nod of the head, a wink of the eye, or a tug of the ear. If necessary, call her name quietly to
get her attention.
Problem-solve with the student. Talk with her in a non-judgmental way to try to determine why she is having problems with
seatwork: Does she understand the directions? Is the work too difficult? Is it so easy that it holds little interest for her? Is she
having problems concentrating? Are the assignments too long? If you can zero in on what might be impeding her seatwork, try
to modify the task in accordance with her needs.
Have the student begin her seatwork with you. That way, you can assess if she understands what to do and how to do it.
Once she successfully completes a problem or two with your assistance, let her continue on her own.
Provide the seatwork in chunks. Giving a student the seatwork in parts will make it appear more manageable to her, and she
will be more likely to tackle it. Getting up after completing each "chuck" also gives her a short break. As an example, if the
assignment is 10 problems, you might initially give her five. After she completes those, check them over to make sure she is on
the right track. If so, give her five additional problems. As she does well with that pattern, you can increase the size of the
Arrange a seatwork buddy for the student. Ask a responsible classmate to help the student complete her seatwork. Tell the
student to see her buddy for help before coming to you. Another source of peer support is to place the student at a table with
others and make it clear that students are expected to assist others in their group.
Use a timer to keep the student on task. Set the timer to go off at varying intervals. If the student is working when the timer
goes off, give her a token or sticker while praising her for her attention to task. After she has received a set number of tokens or
stickers, allow her to exchange them for classroom privileges or small prizes.
Reward students who finish their seatwork. You might, for example, allow students who have completed their seatwork to
engage in pleasurable activities of their own choosing. Or you might schedule a recreational activity at the end of the week for
those who are up to date with their seatwork and homework. Be on the lookout for students who rush through their work
carelessly in order to gain the reward.

Encouraging Shy Students

The shy child is anything but a discipline problem. In fact, she is just the opposite. While many of her classmates work hard to
get attention, sometimes in disruptive ways, the shy child works equally hard to avoid it. Fearful of drawing attention to herself,
she prefers to blend into the background. More spectator than participant, she tends to hang back rather than dive in.
A shy child can be misinterpreted by peers, who see her as unfriendly and conclude that she doesn't want to play with them. In
reality, the shy child usually wants to be involved with her classmates, but doesn't know how to begin or sustain a conversation.

Teachers too may misread the shy child, mistaking her reluctance to participate for a lack of
understanding about the subject at hand. Teachers might conclude that a shy child is
academically slow and, assuming that she does not know the answer, avoid calling on her in
class. In other cases, teachers might conclude that the shy child is a serious, well-behaved
student who needs little attention. Although it is true that a shy child often is a diligent student,
she frequently needs the teacher's attention to draw her out and give her the confidence to take
risks in school.
Place the shy student near the front of the room. That placement will allow you to be closer to her and to speak with her
more easily. In addition, the shy student in the front of the room will be less aware of the rest of the students in the class and,
therefore, might be more willing to speak up. Seat next to the shy child students who are most likely to befriend her.
Build rapport with the shy student. The more successful you are in developing a trusting relationship with her, the more likely
it is that she will develop the confidence to reach out to her peers. Try to find time to do some activities that the child particularly
enjoys, perhaps encouraging her to teach you a game or skill that she does well. Respond to her in a warm and nurturing
manner and make sure to liberally praise her accomplishments.
Speak privately with the shy student. Shy children might need practice speaking with individuals on a one-to-one basis.
Even a few conversations with her each week can improve her skill and comfort level in interacting with others. Ask the shy
child about her interests or activities and use those as a basis for your conversations.
Teach the shy student some social skills. Entering social situations might be especially difficult for the shy child, who often
does not know the right words to use. Take her aside and teach her some "door openers," (for example, "Do you want to be my
partner?") If she is receptive, try role-playing. Impress upon her the importance of smiling and maintaining eye contact when
talking to someone, and give her some idea of what she can talk about with her peers.
Put on your social director's hat. The shy child most likely wants to be involved with her classmates, but finds that keeping to
herself is a less painful option. If the shy child is socially isolated, orchestrate some interactions with her peers. You might
organize a group that involves the shy child. Or you might ask a couple of friendly and mature students to ask her to sit with
them during lunch. If you pair up students for class projects, assign the shy child a kind and easy-going partner. You might also
encourage the shy student's parents to arrange social contacts with her classmates outside of school, perhaps suggesting
potential playmates.
Give the shy student a little push. You might need to nudge the shy child to participate in activities that require verbal
interaction -- even if those activities are mildly anxiety-provoking -- as long as you are confident she will be successful. As an
example, you might have her serve as class messenger, which requires talking with school staff. Find something about her performance to

The Socially Isolated Student

All children need a connection with their peers. For those on the social fringe, school brings frequent reminders of their rejected
status -- difficulty finding a partner for a collaborative activity, being chosen last for a team activity, finding few classmates to
play with at recess, sitting alone at lunch.
Beyond the effect such isolation has on a child's self-esteem, it also can have a marked impact on his school adjustment. Not
only is the isolated child denied the opportunity to learns the skills necessary to develop and maintain friendships, his
schoolwork can also be affected as his attention drifts to social concerns. It isn't surprising that children who feel isolated from
their peers tend to have increasing social and academic problems as they get older.
Figure out why the child is isolated. Find time to observe the student in different settings, such as lunch, recess, and gym.
Talk with the child's parents and previous year's teachers. You even might speak discretely with an observant and trustworthy
student. The information you get could help you determine if the student's difficulties are related to shyness, bossiness,
aggressiveness, appearance, or hygiene issues.
Coach the student in social skills. Try to raise the student's social intelligence by talking with him privately; offering specific
guidance about social situations he is likely to encounter. With young children, you might start with such basic skills as making
eye contact, joining in activities, or asking others to play. Suggest such simple icebreakers as "Would you like to play a game

with me?" If he is comfortable, encourage the student to role play some common social situations. Give him ideas for topics to
talk about with classmates. And, of course, make sure to lavish praise on him (privately if you think he will be embarrassed by
public recognition) when you see him demonstrating good social skills.
Arrange social interactions with classmates. That might call for you to put on your social director's hat and orchestrate the
student's peer involvement. Find activities in which he can interact with other students successfully, and situations that involve
him with peers who are likely to be accepting. For example, you might ask a couple of sensitive and mature students to invite
him to play during recess or join them at their lunch table. Or you might split the class into four or five groups for an academic
activity, perhaps having them meet outside of class to complete a project. That could help the student foster relationships with
classmates. When students pair up in class, assign him to a student who is likely to relate well with him. You might even play
matchmaker by identifying a classmate with similar interests and an accepting manner who could become a buddy to the
isolated student.
Help classmates recognize the child's strengths and talents. Talk with the student or his parents to learn about his
interests, hobbies, and talents. Find a way to bring those to the attention of the class in a natural way. If he excels on the
computer, invite him become the class troubleshooter. If he is a good math student, ask him to demonstrate a challenging math
problem. If he is an ESL student, have him talk to the class in his first language. In that way, other students might come to see
him in a new light.
Organize a lunch club. If you have students who are isolated from their peers, consider grouping those students together
during lunch and recess. Tell them the only requirement for being a member of the lunch club is that they be kind to one
another. You might suggest an organizing activity for the group (playing board games or doing art projects, for example).
Encourage the student's parents to foster peer relationships. You might suggest to the parents other students they could
invite over. Give them ideas for how to structure such a visit to enhance its success, including inviting only one child at a time
and providing an appealing activity for the first visit. Also, suggest to the parents that they involve their child in community
activities at which he is likely to do well.

Spitting in Class
Few behaviors are more unappealing to teachers than spitting. A student might spit on school property in an effort to appear
"cool" or to gain the attention of his peers. The challenge for the teacher is to stop the student from spitting, while giving
minimal attention to the behavior.
Spitting on another person -- which often is a hostile act that can cause considerable distress to the target -- is a different
matter, of course. You should respond to that behavior as you would if the child had hit a classmate; take firm and prompt steps
to ensure that the behavior does not happen again.
Determine whether the student's spitting has a physical basis. Frequent spitting may be due to a medical -- perhaps a
bronchial -- problem. Talk with the student's parents to find out if that is the case. If so, work with them and with the student to
come up with a plan for what to do when he has the need to spit. You might, for example, suggest that he carry a package of
tissues with him or keep some in his desk, and provide him with a bag to keep in his desk for disposing of used tissues. If the
student needs to go to the restroom to spit, arrange a signal he can use to alert you that he is going to the restroom.
Have a private talk with the student. Take the student aside and elicit his cooperation in stopping the behavior. Ask him -- in a
non-judgmental way -- why he spits. Tell him that spitting is unacceptable in school, unless he has a physical need to spit, and if
that is the case, he can obtain a tissue from you or get a pass to go to the restroom. Make it clear that, whatever the cause, he
is not allowed to spit on school property, either inside or outside. Help the student understand that his classmates might find
spitting offensive and avoid him as a result.
If the student spits on school property, have him clean it up. If the student spits on the playground, for example, have him
get a pail of water and pour it on the area. If he spits on the floor, have him spray disinfectant on the area and wipe it well with
paper towels. If the student continues to spit on school property, you might expand his clean-up responsibilities.
If a student spits on a classmate, take immediate action. Let the student know in a very firm manner that this behavior is
unacceptable and will not be tolerated in your classroom. Insist that he apologize to the other student. You might inform the
offending student's parents of the incident, perhaps by having the student call to let his parents know what he did. You also
might provide a school-based consequence, such as missing a desirable school activity or staying inside during recess. If you
have concerns about the health consequences for the child who was spat on, talk with the school nurse.
Help the student learn to express his anger more appropriately. If the student's spitting resulted from anger at a peer or an
adult, help him find more appropriate ways of expressing anger. If the incident appears to stem from an ongoing conflict
between two students, try getting them together to resolve the dispute.

Student Interruptions
Calling out is one of the more common problems teachers encounter in the classroom. Fortunately, it also is one of the easiest
problems to manage. A student's classroom interruptions may take different forms -- from blurting out an answer without raising
his hand, to responding when another student has been called on, to making an unsolicited comment in the middle of a lesson
or discussion. Whatever form the interruption takes, students who call out can get you and the class off track, as well as
prevent other students from participating fully in class activities. In addition, if a student is allowed to gain your attention by
calling out, classmates likely will be encouraged to follow his lead and call out as well.
Seat a student who is prone to calling out near you. Seat the student near the place where you typically stand when
presenting a lesson. That placement allows you to anticipate when the student is about to blurt out an answer, and to signal him
quietly to raise his hand.
Ignore a student who calls out; only call on students who raise their hands. Giving attention to a student who calls out will
make him more likely to call out in the future. Try to ignore the interruption, if possible; continue with your lesson, calling on a
student who has raised his hand. You might make a comment such as "Daniel, I like the way you're raising your hand and
waiting to be called on." That sends a message that a student who raises his hand gains more attention than a student who
calls out.
Use behavior modification to change the student's behavior. An easy way to do that is to draw lines dividing a 3-inch by 5inch card into ten boxes; tape the card to the student's desk. At the beginning of each day, set a timer for 30 minutes. If the
student does not call out within the 30-minute period, initial one of the boxes and reset the timer. If the student does call out,
reset the timer immediately, and do not initial the card. When all ten boxes are initialed, reward the student with an agreed-upon
prize or privilege. (Note: You can adjust the length of the time period and the number of boxes on the card according to the age
of the student and the severity of the problem.)
Teach the student to monitor his own behavior. Raise a student's awareness of how many times he calls out by taping to his
desk a 3-inch by 5-inch card divided into five sections -- one for each day of the week. Have the student put a check in the
appropriate box each time he calls out. At the end of the week, review the card with the student and count the number of times
he called out each day. If he has made progress, reward the student either with praise or with a classroom privilege.
Set aside a specific time every day to talk with individual students. Some students call out simply because they feel the
need to talk with you. Set aside a specific time during the day when students can talk to you about their concerns. Suggest they
write a note to themselves if they are worried about forgetting what they want to say.
Teach the impulsive student how to hold onto his thoughts. An impulsive students might tell you that he called out because
if he didn't speak immediately, he would have forgotten what he wanted to say. If you have a student with this problem, suggest
that he jot down a phrase or sentence that will help him remember what he wanted to stay. After calling on him, pause to give
him time to reconstruct his thoughts.

Managing Cheating
When deciding how to respond to students who cheat, teachers need to think not just about punishing the behavior, but also
about correcting it. Simply providing undesirable consequences for cheating, without focusing on the underlying reasons for the
behavior, can have the effect of making students more crafty cheaters.
Correcting the behavior requires finding out why a student cheated and addressing his needs. At the same time, you need to
recognize that in responding to a student who has cheated, you send an important message to other students about the
consequences of cheating. Failure to confront a child who cheats might lead your other students to believe that they too can
cheat with impunity.
Speak privately with the student. If you are certain a student was cheating, talk with him after class; do not embarrass him
publicly. Assume a calm and serious demeanor, but avoid expressions of anger. Accusing a student of cheating likely will elicit a
denial. Also, avoid trying to trick him into an admission of cheating. Instead describe what you saw and let him know that you
are disappointed in his behavior.
Provide consequences. Consider the student's age, sensitivity level, and history of cheating when assigning consequences.
With a young elementary student, you might simply inform him that copying is not permitted, move his desk away from other
students, and allow him to continue. With an older student, you might quietly pick up his test paper and ask him to see you after
class. Later, tell him he will have to retake the test and that his second test score will be averaged with a zero on the first test.

Point out that if the behavior recurs, he will receive a failing grade without the chance for a retake. If a student is caught copying
an assignment from a classmate, you might have the student redo the assignment and average the grade on the second
assignment with a zero on the first version.
Figure out why the student is cheating and provide appropriate help. Try to determine what prompted him to cheat, paying
particular attention to academic deficiencies, poor study habits, feelings of academic anxiety, and parental pressure to succeed.
A student might be motivated to cheat, for example, because of intense pressure to do well in school or a lack of confidence in
his ability to succeed. You might determine that he would benefit from such academic support as a review sheet prior to the
test, after school tutoring, or parental assistance. If you conclude that the cheating reflects a lack of confidence, find
opportunities to praise the student, highlight his accomplishments, and foster a feeling of academic success.
Consider informing the student's parents. Informing parents is especially important if the cheating has happened more than
once. In speaking with them, focus more on ways to correct the behavior than on ways to punish the student. If the cheating
reflects academic weaknesses or lack of confidence, encourage the parents to provide additional help in completing homework
and preparing for classroom tests.
Keep a close watch on a student with a history of cheating. Seat him near your desk and/or away from other students.
Wander past his desk occasionally during a test. If necessary, administer his test in a private setting with adult supervision.
Allow the student to ask questions if he is confused about test instructions or a particular question or problem.

Sleeping In Class
Students in elementary grades don't often fall asleep in class, but when they do, it can be a distraction to you and to the other
students. Sleeping in class also can signify another problem that warrants your attention.
If you have a student who is nodding off frequently, do some digging to find out why. It may be that she is going to bed too late;
is bored in school; has a medical problem, such as allergies, diabetes, or hypoglycemia; or is experiencing side effects of
medication. When investigating the reasons, look for a pattern by examining when and where the student falls asleep.
Knowing why a student is falling asleep will help you figure out how to respond, and whether to deal with the problem as a
medical concern, an emotional difficulty, a motivational problem, or a disciplinary issue.
Wake the student. Ask her if she feels all right; if not, send her to the nurse. If she claims to be feeling fine, suggest she get a
drink of water and then send her to the rest room to wash her face to help overcome the fatigue.
Make it hard for the student to sleep. If one of your students nods off frequently and you are confident it is not due to illness
or medication, consider removing her desk the next time she falls asleep, so she has no place to rest her head. Give her a
clipboard or a hard surface to write on. Let her have her desk back when she tells you she is confident she can work without
falling asleep.
Seat the student at the front of the class or near your desk. She will be less likely to nod off when seated near you, and if
she does, you will be sure to notice. If the student is seated elsewhere in the class, move towards her if you see her falling
asleep. Your presence may serve as a wake-up call. You also might consider seating her near the window; the light and fresh
air may make her more alert.
Keep the student active. Give her activities to do during those times of day when she is most prone to falling asleep. In fact,
incorporating physical activity into your classroom is a good practice to follow with all your students. You might, for example,
have students do stretching exercises, play Simon Says, take a bathroom break, or do such classroom errands as taking a
message to the office. Tailor the activities to the student's behavior pattern. If, for example, she tends to fall asleep while
watching videos, consider asking her to help operate the audio-visual equipment.
Call on the student unexpectedly. If she senses that you may call on her at any time, she might work harder to stay awake. If
you notice that she is starting to nod off, ask her a question or give her a task to do. Your goal is to heighten her alertness, not
humiliate her, so ask a question you are confident she can answer.
Allow the student to take a nap -- sometimes. Some kindergartners or first graders still need a nap during the day. In fact, if
you are teaching kindergarten, you might build a rest period into your class schedule (although you might want to phase it out
as the year progresses to help students prepare for first grade). If the student continues to fall asleep over a period of time,
contact her parents.

Lying in Class

Most children lie sometimes. Although an occasional lie is not a reason for serious concern, teachers should be concerned
about a student who lies frequently. Students who lie can become skilled at the behavior; the lying then might become habitual
to the point that they lie with little concern for the consequences, which can be considerable. Frequent lying can cause
classmate distrust, and lead to peer rejection, which can give rise to additional behavioral or academic problems.
Some instances of lying are of greater concern than others. (A child who lies to avoid hurting a classmate's feelings or who
occasionally embellishes a story poses little cause for concern, for example.) When determining whether lying warrants your
involvement, consider how frequently the student lies, the nature and context of the lies, the reactions of classmates, and any
other behaviors the child displays. Avoid disciplining a student for lying unless you are certain that she has lied.
Respond to mistakes constructively. If a student expects you to react to mistakes by getting angry, she will be more inclined
to lie to hide those mistakes. If you react to mistakes in a calm, constructive, solution-focused manner, she will be more likely to
be truthful.
Acknowledge student honesty. If a student admits a mistake, let her know you are pleased she had the courage to speak the
truth. Although you might want to give the student a consequence for the misdeed, consider going easy because of her
honesty. Let the student know you are lessening the consequence for the misdeed because of her truthfulness. Giving her a
harsh punishment might encourage her to be dishonest about future mistakes.
Do not treat a young child's fantasies as lies. Some kindergartners or first graders fabricate stories because they have not
completely learned to distinguish fantasy from reality. Although you might need to help those student learn to tell the difference
between fantasy and reality, do not treat their fantasies as lies.
Address the lie. If you observe a child lying, even occasionally, don't ignore the behavior. Lies that go unchallenged give
students the impression that they can get away with lying and encourage them to tell bigger lies. A student whose lies go
unchallenged also might become a more skilled, and even compulsive, liar. Intervening quickly also is important because lying
can cause social problems for the student.
React calmly. Although confronting lying as soon as you observe it is important, do not to overreact to. Let the student know
that you are disappointed in her behavior, but reacting in an angry, critical manner, will only encourage her to lie more skillfully
in the future. Similarly, avoid conducting an inquisition to determine conclusively whether the student has told a lie. In doing so,
you give the issue more attention than it is worth, and could encourage the student to add to her lie.
Meet with the student in private. In responding to a lie, focus on the behavior rather than on the student. Let the student
know that she has made a mistake and hopefully will act differently next time, but do not call her a liar or otherwise make her
feel like a bad person for having lied. Help her understand the consequences of lying, and let her know that if she lies
frequently you and her classmates won't know when she is telling the truth. Help her understand that lying does not make a
problem go away and, in fact, usually makes it worse.
Attend to what underlies the lying. The nature of a student's lies might offer clues about an underlying emotional need, which
might suggest ways of intervening. For example, if you observe a student frequently lying to classmates about her
achievements, it is likely that she feels insecure and is trying to gain status with her peers. Look for ways for the child to gain
peer attention by highlighting her actual accomplishments. If a student tells a classmate that she has a lot of friends in another
class when you know that isn't true, the student might be conveying feelings of social isolation, suggesting another avenue for
teacher intervention.
Use punishment sparingly. A gentle talk with a student can be more effective than a punitive approach; however, situations
might arise in which you feel punishment is warranted. If so, accompany the punishment with an explanation of why lying is
wrong and a discussion of what the consequences of lying are.

Leaving the Classroom Without Permission

A young student who leaves the classroom without permission generally does so for one of three reasons: she is upset about
something that is going on in class; she wants to go somewhere more appealing; she is trying to get your attention. Often, the
motivation for leaving is a combination of those three reasons.
To deal with this problem most effectively, you first must figure out why the student is leaving the classroom. Take note of when
she left the room.(If a young child leaves soon after arriving at school, she may be experiencing separation problems, for
example); of what was happening before she left the room (If she wasn't picked for a playground game, the student might be
feeling left out); and of where she goes (If she goes to see a brother or sister in another class, she might be in need of comfort
and reassurance).

Alert the principal immediately if you can't find the student within a very few minutes. Your first priority when a student
leaves class is to drop everything and find her. Most often, she will not have gone far. On the rare occasion when she cannot be
found right away, call the office on the intercom or send a student to inform the principal, but stay calm and do not alarm the
other students.
Bring the student back immediately, but give her minimal attention. Do not welcome her back with a hug, a sympathetic
ear, or a lecture. You can do all that later. For now, simply get her involved in a classroom activity. The point is to not lead her to
believe that leaving the classroom is a way to get your attention and sympathy.
Talk with the student later. Using a serious, stern tone, make it clear to the student that leaving the classroom without
permission is not allowed. If she left the building, point out that she is unsafe outside the building alone, and explain that you
don't want anything to happen to her. Ask the student why she left the classroom and where she was going. After you identify
her reason for leaving, work with her to remedy the problem. Let her know, however, that if she leaves the classroom without
permission again, you will take strong action, such as calling her parents or keeping her in during recess.
Set up an area of the classroom where the student can go when she is upset or bored. Make the area an enticing
location with comfortable seating. In designing the area, ask the student for ideas about what should be put there -- books, art
materials, games, audio or video tapes, and so on. Encourage the student to bring items from home. (The area will, of course,
be available to all students.)
Make it difficult for the student to leave the classroom. Make sure the classroom door is always closed and seat the
student as far away from the door as possible. To prevent her from leaving, especially during unstructured activities, position
yourself near the door as much as possible.
Ask the other children to alert you if a student leaves the classroom. Don't single out one student; ask students to let you
know if they see any student leave the room. Or, attach to the door a bell that rings when it's opened.

Stealing in the Classroom

Students steal for a variety of reasons. Some steal simply because they want an item and haven't developed the impulse
control to curb their behavior. Others steal to express unhappiness or distress, or to get back at someone they believe has
wronged them. Still others steal to gain status with their peers or to get attention from their teachers.
Whatever the motivation for stealing, when responding to a theft, you have three goals: to return the item to its owner, to
identify the guilty student, and to respond to him with a mixture of firmness and understanding. If there have been a number of
incidents of stealing in your classroom, you also will want to consider how to prevent their recurrence. Because these incidents
can create conflict and distrust among students, you need to deal with the situation promptly and sensitively.


Ask for the missing item to be returned. Tell students that an item is missing and ask if anyone knows where it is, without
referring to it as "stolen." Let students know that if the item was taken without permission, it is important that it be returned
immediately. Designate an unmonitored area where the student can return the item unobserved.
Ask students to do the "write" thing. If you hope to find out who took the missing item, you might have each student write on
a piece of paper either "I did not take the (name of item)" or "I took the (name of item) and am sorry." Then have each student
sign the paper, fold it in half, and hand it to you. You might be surprised at your students' willingness to acknowledge
responsibility. If a student owns up to taking the item, keep the information confidential, but help him understand the
consequences of his behavior.
If you know who stole the item, arrange for its return. If you are certain you know who stole the item, confront the student
directly. Do not ask him if he stole the item; that will only invite him to lie. Instead, let him know you are aware that he took the
item, and that you expect him to return it and to apologize to the owner of the item. If the student no longer has the item, tell
him you expect him to replace it or pay for it.
Educate the guilty student about stealing and its consequences. If the student is a kindergartner or first grader, he may
have only a limited understanding of property rights, and he might need help understanding that stealing is wrong. An older
student is more likely to understand that his actions are wrong, but he still might need help grasping the consequences of
stealing, both for himself and for the person he stole the item from.

Consider informing the principal and parents. If one of your students has taken an item of value, or stolen on more than one
occasion, inform the principal and also talk with the student's parents. If the student no longer has the item and must replace or
pay for it, suggest to the parents that they have the child do extra chores as a way of earning the money.
Make sure the student is not shunned by his classmates. If you know who stole the item, keep the information to yourself.
Certainly do not reprimand the student publicly. If the other students find out through other sources, take steps to avoid the
student being rejected by peers. Other students likely will take their cue from you in terms of how they treat the student.
Discourage students from bringing valuable or popular items to school. That will help prevent future incidents of stealing.
Inform parents of your rule during Back to School Night or in a letter home. Ask parents to put their children's names on any
items they bring to school.

The Student With Low Self-Esteem

A student's self-esteem has a significant impact on almost everything she does -- on the way she engages in activities, deals
with challenges, and interacts with others. Self-esteem also can have a marked effect on academic performance. Low selfesteem can lessen a student's desire to learn, her ability to focus, and her willingness to take risks. Positive self-esteem, on the
other hand, is one of the building blocks of school success; it provides a firm foundation for learning.
The challenge in working with children with low self-esteem is to restore their belief in themselves, so they persevere in the face
of academic challenges. You do not need a formal program to promote self-esteem, however. Educators shape self-esteem
every day, in the normal course of interacting with their students.
Although you cannot teach a student to feel good about herself, you can nurture her self-esteem through a continual process of
encouragement and support. At its most basic, that means showing appreciation for the things she does well, expressing
confidence that she will improve in the areas in which she doesn't do well, and adapting instruction so she can experience
Praise the student in a specific and genuine way. Students are experts at distinguishing genuine feedback from empty
compliments. They learn to dismiss vague words of praise as insincere, and perhaps even phony. Comments that suggest
thoughtful appreciation of their work, on the other hand, are meaningful to them. Toward that end, let the student know in
specific terms what you like about her work or behavior. If she is progressing slowly, praise her for small steps forward. If you
sense that she's uncomfortable being praised in front of her classmates, tell her in private or in a note.
Show the student tangible evidence of progress. Expressing confidence in a student's ability is important; pep talks alone might
not be enough, however. Help the student appreciate her own improvement by pointing to concrete signs of growth -- perhaps
by taping an oral reading at the beginning of the year and comparing it to a later performance, by showing her papers from
earlier in the year and contrasting them with later papers, or by demonstrating that the math problems she struggled with during
the first marking period now come easily to her. You might also have the student place in a box index cards with spelling or
reading words she has mastered.
Showcase her accomplishments. You might read one of the student's compositions to the class, display her artwork on a
bulletin board, have her demonstrate how to do a math problem, or, in the case of an ESL student, invite her to speak to the
class in her first language. If the student has a particular hobby or interest, suggest that she talk to the class about it. If
necessary, have her rehearse her talk in advance.
Help the student feel important in class. You might give the student an important classroom job or find ways in which she can
help others. Tell her you are giving her the responsibility because you are confident she can do it well. For example: have the
student take care of the class rabbit, deliver lunch money to the office, collect homework, help another student with a computer
problem, read aloud the school's morning announcements, answer the school phone while the secretary is at lunch, or tutor a
student in a lower grade.
Engage the student in conversation about her interests. A student can gain self-esteem from involvement in activities she cares
about. Find a few minutes every day to talk with her about her favorite hobbies, sports, television programs, or musical groups.
If necessary, ask her parents for the information you need as a basis for talking with her. Suggest to the student ways in which
she can pursue her interests in greater depth. You might even bring in a book or item from home related to one of her
Help the student deal with adversity. If the student encounters academic difficulties, help her appreciate that failure is a normal
part of learning and that everyone experiences disappointment or frustration at some point. You might tell her that Lincoln lost
seven elections before being elected president of the United States, or that Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times during his career.

Acknowledge the student's frustration, and then move on to help her develop strategies for improvement. Express your
confidence that --with hard work and your support -- she is likely to succeed.
Encourage a sense of belonging. Students with low self-esteem often are isolated from their classmates. You can promote a
student's peer involvement with others by finding ways to integrate her into activities that are take place both in and out of
school. You might organize a group activity that includes her. Or ask a couple of friendly and accepting students to spend time
with her during recess or lunch. If students pair up for class activities, assign the student a kind and easygoing partner. You also
might want to encourage the student's parents to arrange additional social contacts with classmates, perhaps suggesting
potential playmates.
Inform parents of their child's successes. Teachers are quick to let parents know when their child has a problem. They are not
nearly as diligent about notifying parents when their child is successful. Consider sending home a note or calling parents when
their child does something noteworthy. Tell the student you are doing it. The gesture might take only a couple of minutes, but it
can brighten the student's day and engender positive responses from the parents to their child.

Math Anxiety
Math, more than any other subject, engenders anxiety and avoidance in students. For many, the mere mention of the "m" word
is enough to send their blood pressure skyrocketing. Although experiencing some insecurity about school subjects is normal,
for some students the anxiety about math can be extreme and can hamper performance.
The anxious student, convinced of her inability to do math, might avoid the subject or put forth little effort, leaving significant
gaps in her math development. Difficulty mounts as she confronts more advanced skills, causing further anxiety and avoidance.
What begins as a mild case of math avoidance turns into a severe case of math anxiety.
Students with math anxiety have confidence in only one thing related to math -- that they can't do it. That belief turns into an
emotional block, causing a form of mental paralysis. Their brains seem to shut down when a math concept is detected. Fear
and anxiety take the place of clear thinking, and the need to avoid looking stupid before peers becomes paramount. Math
anxiety can propel a student into a downward spiral. Bewildered by the math concepts, she has difficulty focusing, contributing
to further difficulties in understanding. Anxiety increases and confidence declines. The student abandons her efforts to
understand and becomes preoccupied with obtaining the right answer.
Unless math anxiety is confronted, it can turn into a permanent block. A teacher can help chip away at this block by providing
individualized academic support and bolstering the student's confidence. A simple "you can do it" is not sufficient, however.
Rather the teacher needs to prove to the student that she can do it, convincing her -- by exposing her to a variety of successful
experiences -- that she is more capable in math than she thinks.
In addition, instruction should move towards a real-life approach to math, with more emphasis on understanding and less on
memorization, more on application and less on computation, more on student participation and less on teacher lecture.
Teachers can play a significant role in lessening the math anxiety of their students and helping them approach math with
confidence. Perhaps the best antidote to math anxiety is math mastery. The more students understand math concepts, the less
anxiety they will experience. Similarly, the better prepared they are for tests, the less likely it is that they will become flustered or
block during the exam.
Be aware of the messages about math you convey to students. Just as parents can help shape their children's attitudes
towards math, teachers can have a similar impact on their students. If you are anxious about the subject, make sure not to
convey your feelings to students. Express confidence in their abilities, telling them that if they stick with it they eventually will
catch on.
Be calm and patient. This is especially important for the math-anxious student; the slightest sign of teacher impatience might
cause her to shut down completely. Create a climate in which students have no fear of asking a question or offering a wrong
answer. Present instructions in a clear, calm manner and give the student time to process the instructions and formulate a
response. If you feel yourself becoming impatient while working with a student, try backing off for a while. Your impatience will
only increase her anxieties and intensify her confusion. If you find that the student continues to be very anxious despite your
calming efforts, take her aside and suggest that she try breathing deeply as a way of lessening her anxiety.
Encourage the student to ask questions. Students with math anxiety often are reluctant to ask questions in class for fear of
appearing dumb or being taken to task by the teacher for not listening. Make it clear to your students that you want them to ask
questions, and prove it by leaving time at the end of every class for that purpose. Tell students there is no such thing as a dumb
question, and explain that their questions help you by indicating where you might not have been clear enough. Even with your
encouragement, however, some students still will feel uncomfortable asking questions in class, so make yourself available after

class or at the end of the day. Respond positively to a student's question, describing it as a "good question" or an "important
point." Make sure not to allow students to ridicule a classmate's questions.
Promote the student's confidence. Students with math anxiety are almost always insecure in their abilities. They might
assume they will not understand a math concept or be able to do a problem. That lack of confidence might impair their
concentration and hamper their performance. Help reshape negative views towards math by praising their successes and
highlighting what they have done well. Back up your words with evidence of their ability to be successful with math. In
presenting math work, start with problems they can complete easily and, as they master the easier problems, move on to more
difficult ones. Allow students to find alternative routes to solving problems so they learn there is not just one right way to find the
answer. The hope is that students will come to view their skills in a more positive light and not be as intimidated at the prospect
of tackling math problems.
Help the student make sense of math concepts. Many math-anxious students approach math as a series of procedures to
be memorized, not understood. When their memory fails, however, or when a problem falls outside the rules they have
memorized, performance falters and anxiety results. Take the mystery out of math by helping students understand the reason
behind the rule they are memorizing. In short, teach them the "why" as well as the "how." The better they understand a concept,
the more effectively they will retain and apply it.
Use concrete objects to foster understanding. Many students find math concepts abstract and thus hard to understand.
Using objects -- what educators call manipulatives -- can help students grasp and visualize concepts in a way that words alone
cannot. Objects might include anything that can be counted or conveys quantity or amount -- such as blocks, beads, coins,
poker chips, or Cuisenaire rods. Sand and water also can be used to convey amount. As an example, cutting an apple in parts
can help students grasp the notion of fractions in a way that worksheets can't. Of course, as the student's understanding grows,
she can move from the concrete to the conceptual.
Make math relevant. "Why do we need to do this anyway?" is a common refrain heard from math students. Answer the
question by showing them. Demonstrate how the skills they are learning are used in everyday life; how the seemingly
disconnected set of facts and procedures relate to the real world. Students will be more comfortable with math concepts if they
understand their practical value and learn to apply them. Give them problems that relate to their interests and age level that
they might encounter outside of school.
Math math fun. Teachers can use a wide variety of math games to reinforce skills and promote a positive association with
math. These can be board games, card games, or games that you or the students create yourselves. Typically easy to play and
requiring little time, games help break up classroom routine. Keep games tension-free and relatively non-competitive. Also use
the computer to stimulate enthusiasm for math. Many good software programs are available for students of all ages.
Make a special effort to encourage girls in math. Girls are more vulnerable to math anxiety than boys, especially in the
middle and high school years. Part of their insecurity might stem from the messages they receive from both parents and
teachers. Monitor the messages about math you send girls. Make sure you don't sell girls short by attending more to boys in
math class or by suggesting that girls avoid challenging math courses. Rather show confidence in their ability to do math,
encourage them to take risks, and give them a chance to compete on a par with the boys in the class.

Encouraging Good Hygiene

One of the more sensitive issues a teacher may have to deal with is a student with poor hygiene. It is not an issue you easily
can ignore, especially if it results in a student being ridiculed and rejected by her peers. If the child does not learn good hygiene
by the time she leaves elementary school, she likely is in for a rough time in middle and high school.
Poor hygiene can take a variety of forms, including disheveled hair, dirty clothes, and body odor. Because of the potentially
significant social and health implications of poor hygiene, you cannot sidestep those issues with students; you must deal with
them with honesty and directness, and with sensitivity and concern for the student's emotional well being.
Make hygiene a regular part of your health curriculum. A variety of materials are available for teaching hygiene, including
curricula, videos, and books. You might ask a kindergarten teacher, who often is used to dealing with those issues, for some
tips on teaching hygiene. You will especially want to encourage the following behaviors among all your students: showering or
bathing regularly, shampooing their hair, brushing their teeth, wearing clean clothes, washing their hands after using the
bathroom, covering their mouths when coughing, and using tissues to wipe their noses.
Talk privately with a student with poor hygiene. Help the student understand that poor hygiene can cause illnesses, and that
it can cause other children to avoid her. Talk with her about the basics of good hygiene; then zero in on her particular areas of
need. You may need to give the student very specific instructions for good hygiene, and to teach behaviors we take for granted

in most children. If you are uncomfortable talking with the student about those issues, you might ask the school nurse to meet
with her.
Monitor the student's hygiene. Provide the student with a checklist of hygiene activities she should do on a daily basis, such
as taking a shower or bath, washing her hair, brushing her teeth, combing her hair, putting on clean clothes, and so on. Have
the student write those behaviors in a notebook, and tell her that those tasks are part of her homework assignment. For the first
couple of weeks, meet privately with the student for a few minutes every morning to review how well she did her "homework,"
and praise her for any additional evidence of good hygiene.
Have some hygiene items handy in the classroom. You may find that a student with poor hygiene does not have some basic
hygiene items at home. For occasions like those, keep a variety of basic items -- such as brushes, combs, tissue, soap,
shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes, and toothpaste -- in your desk. Let the student know that she can take what she needs as
long as she makes good use of them. Check to make sure the student knows how to use the items.
Work out a private signal to cue a student who is picking her nose. Few behaviors turn off peers more quickly than a
student who picks her nose. If you have a child who is a frequent nose picker, meet with her privately and let her know that
other children find this behavior unpleasant and may avoid her as a result. Tell the student that she needs to use a tissue
instead and provide her with a pack of tissues to keep in her desk. Work out with the student a subtle, non-verbal signal to alert
her when she begins to pick her nose.

The Student With Poor Listening Skills

Good listening ability is an essential learning tool. Indeed, most of what children learn in elementary school is acquired through
the auditory channel. Some students, however, have a problem in their ability to listen. They might have what is called an
auditory processing problem, namely, a difficulty in understanding spoken language.
A student who has problems processing auditory information typically hears normally. She hears the sounds, but her brain has
difficulty making sense of what she is hearing. Just as a child with a reading disability typically has good visual acuity, but a
problem interpreting visual symbols, a child with poor listening skills usually has good hearing, but difficulty interpreting auditory
Simply telling a student with poor listening skills to "pay attention" is not sufficient to solve the problem. Teachers can, however,
promote good listening skills by varying the ways in which they communicate, and by making subtle changes in the classroom
setting. The following strategies might help you deal more effectively with a student with poor listening skills -- and also help
foster understanding in your entire class.
Investigate possible reasons for the listening difficulty. A student's processing problem might signal the presence of
another problem. For example, the child might have an ear infection, a hearing problem, or an attention deficit. Also, consider
whether she might be bored, distressed, or oppositional. If you suspect the possibility of a hearing problem, ask the nurse to
screen the student's hearing. Bear in mind, however, that such screening is a limited diagnostic tool, and the student will require
additional testing by an audiologist to definitively rule out a hearing problem. You also might want to request an evaluation from
the school's speech-language specialist to further pinpoint any difficulties.
Seat the student to optimize understanding. Place the student near where you typically stand, and away from the hallway
door or window. In that way, she will be better able to understand your instructions and less vulnerable to distraction. When
talking to your class on a sunny day, avoid standing in front of the window; it will be harder for students to see your face
Gain the student's attention before speaking with her. That is particularly important when giving assignments or directions
or introducing new ideas. Consider alerting the student that you are about to begin speaking by gently tapping her on the
shoulder or calling her name. Face her, and make sure she has eye contact with you. Varying your tone and volume also might
help keep her attention.
Monitor student understanding. You might do that by having the student repeat back your directions, or by asking her
questions to assess her grasp of what you have said. Make sure that she really understands and is not parroting back what she
has heard. If she has not understood, restate your instructions, but simplify the vocabulary, syntax, and grammar. Consider
asking another student to regularly monitor the student's understanding of directions and assignments.
Encourage the student to tell you when she is confused. A student might be reluctant to ask you for clarification for fear of
your reaction. Let her know you expect her to tell you when she's unclear about directions or assignments. At the same time,
you want to make sure she doesn't take advantage of the opportunity by not paying attention the first time you give
Provide a longer "wait time" with the student. The student with an auditory processing problem might take somewhat longer
to understand orally-presented information. If so, wait a little longer than normal for a response after asking the student a
Prepare the student when changing topics. When moving from one subject to another, make it clear that you are changing
topics by saying, for example, "That ends our discussion of (name of topic). Now, let's move on to talk about (new topic)." In

discussing the new topic, begin by summarizing the main points. When finished with your lesson, review the main ideas and
perhaps previously learned material. That will be helpful for all students.
Enhance the student's understanding. Try the following strategies to help the student understand and remember what you
have said:

Speak in short sentences and talk relatively slowly.

Repeat what you have said or have the student repeat it to you. If necessary, rephrase what you said rather than
repeating it word for word.
Have the student write down the information.
When posing questions in class, give the student three or four possible answers to choose from -- or ask questions with
a number of correct answers.

Supplement orally presented information with written information.

Reinforce what you are saying with gestures.

Special Needs
Disciplining students with special needs can present challenging issues for teachers. In choosing how to respond when a
student with disabilities presents behavioral difficulties, teachers need to consider what underlies the behavior, and recognize
that the behavior could result from feelings of discouragement, frustration and inadequacy.
A student who is ridiculed by classmates because of a physical disability might act out in a misguided effort to gain approval. A
student with a learning disability might misbehave because she feels discouraged by her academic difficulties and wants to
deflect attention from them. A student with a reading disability might lash out in anger because of frustration with her inability to
decode words. If you can identify what lies beneath a student's overt behavior, you can provide her with appropriate support
and guidance.
Become familiar with the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP). If a student is classified as eligible for special
education, she will have an IEP. That document, which is required for all special-education students, should include a
comprehensive description of the student's educational strengths and weaknesses. It also might contain management
strategies, as well as suggested or permissible modifications of the school disciplinary code.
Model respectful behavior toward the student. Your students will look to you for cues about how to interact with the student.
Demonstrate by treating her in a kind, sensitive, and patient manner, but do not talk down to her. Also, use language that is
suitable for her age and that places her on an equal level with her peers. For example, in asking a classmate to go with the
student to the library, it is more sensitive to say "I'd like the two of you to go" than "Take her with you."
Find opportunities to praise the student. The student might be frustrated by difficulties posed by her disability, and need
emotional support. In an honest and sincere manner, praise her successes in the presence of classmates (or privately if you
sense she will be embarrassed by public recognition). Keep in mind that her accomplishments might not take the same form as
those of other students. Small steps can represent giant leaps for a child with special needs.
Discipline the student when she misbehaves. Although you might feel sympathetic to the student, she should not be exempt
from discipline because of her disability unless her misbehavior is a direct result of that disability. Students with disabilities need
to know when their behavior is inappropriate, and they need to receive reasonable consequences for their inappropriate
behavior. Bear in mind, however, that the ultimate purpose of discipline is to teach, not to punish or humiliate.
Make accommodations to lessen the student's frustration or difficulties. The student's behavioral difficulties, which can
run the gamut from withdrawal to crying to lashing out at classmates, might result from frustration related to her special needs.
For example:

Modify the amount of writing required of a student with a handwriting problem.

Provide alternatives to reading aloud for the student with a reading disability.

Prepare the autistic child for changes in school routine.

Give the student with an auditory processing problem extra time to process information presented orally.

Provide short, simple and clear directions to the student who is a slow learner or cognitively impaired.

Talk with your class about the student. If you find that the student's classmates are ridiculing her, find a time when she is out
of class to talk with them. Tell them you expect them to be kind to the student and to include her in their activities. Help them
understand that she has the same feelings and sensitivities as other students. If her behavior is particularly unusual, help them
understand why she might behave that way, but emphasize her similarities rather than her differences. Also, avoid using labels
or language that sets the student apart from other students.
Help the student blend in with other students. Because a student with special needs might stand out in a regular class, it is
important to give her a sense of belonging by treating her as much like her classmates as possible. Give her the same

privileges or materials that you give other students, make sure to involve her in class routines, and expect her to comply with
the same rules, as long as they are within her ability.

Teasing in the Classroom

Students should not have to put up with being put down. They need to know that teachers will take the problem seriously and
protect them from teasing. Toward that end, you need to send a strong message that ridicule will not be tolerated in your
classroom. If teasing is allowed to continue unchecked, you might find more and more students engaging in similar behavior.
Your students might be reluctant to tell you they are being teased, so you need to be alert for signs they are being ridiculed.
Those include avoidance of areas such as the playground, withdrawal from peers, increased fearfulness or anxiety, difficulty
focusing, and a reluctance to come to school.
Have a private talk with the offending student. If you sense that the teaser did not mean to upset another student, help her
understand how hurtful ridicule can be. If you sense she was trying to be hurtful, let her know in a stern -- but not humiliating -manner that such behavior is unacceptable and must stop immediately. Let the student know that you will monitor her closely.
Also, point put that her behavior could cause her classmates to avoid her. Ask her how else she might have acted in the
situation in which the teasing occurred, and offer some suggestions of your own. Finally, ask her if she is upset about
something; children who tease often are.
If the teasing persists, take disciplinary action. Keep in mind that your goal is to deter hurtful behavior, not to humiliate or
embarrass the child who's teasing others. Assign a consequence that is proportional to the severity of her actions. That might
be an after-school detention, missed recess, or not being allowed to attend a school activity. You also might inform her parents
and ask that they explain to their child that teasing is unacceptable.
Consider why a particular student is being teased. Ask yourself if the student's behavior is drawing the attention of other
students and eliciting the teasing. The following behaviors often result in teasing: crying in class, wearing dirty clothes, picking
one's nose, and demonstrating poor hygiene. If you identify behaviors that are encouraging peer ridicule, help the student
change those behaviors without suggesting that she did anything wrong.
Role-play with the victim of teasing. Assume the role of the student being teased so you can model what to say. Then
reverse roles and have the student practice what to say as you give feedback. Also, model the use of positive self-talk. For
example, if a student is called stupid by a classmate, suggest that she say the following to herself: "When Sally says I'm dumb,
it's because she's trying to get others to pay attention to her. She has the problem, not me."
Help the teased student prepare some ready responses. Show the student how to deflect teasing or defuse a situation
without provoking the tormentor or appearing upset. Suggest that she either say nothing at all, or respond to the offending
student simply and firmly, speaking confidently while looking the student in the eye, and then walk away without engaging her in
Help the teased student connect with her peers. The more involved with other children a student is, the less likely she is to
be a target for teasing. If a student is isolated from her peers, help her establish friendships by encouraging her involvement in
activities where she feels confident and will be with peers who are kind and accepting. Pay particular attention to lunch and
recess, when teasing is most likely to occur. Also encourage the student's parents to set up play dates with classmates.
Help the student gain recognition from peers. Find a way to highlight the teased student's strengths and talents in the
presence of her peers, so they learn to see her in a new light. As an example, if a student is skilled at drawing cartoons, have
her show some of her drawings to the class. If she has special needs, help her classmates learn more about her, so they learn
that she has many of the same interests they do.
Inform other school staff about a student who is being teased. Students who tease others are likely to do so outside of
your presence. Alert other adults who supervise your students, including the bus driver, lunch and playground monitors, and
specials, so they can keep a watchful eye and intervene if necessary.

Whining in Class

Few behaviors are more annoying to teachers than whining. The student who constantly responds in a shrill, high-pitched voice
can frustrate and exasperate even the calmest teacher. If you have a whiner in your classroom, you might find that as your
patience wears thin, you spend more and more time responding to her. That added attention not only takes time away from
your lesson, it actually reinforces the whining.
Children whine because they have learned that whining gets them more attention than speaking in a normal tone of voice does.
But, if whining is learned because of others' reactions to it, it also can be unlearned by modifying your response to it.
Before taking any corrective action, consider the possibility that the student's whining is due to a speech problem or an
extremely nasal voice. If you suspect that might be the case, refer the student to your school's speech-language specialist.
Establish a 'no whining' rule. As you discuss classroom rules with students, tell them that whining is not allowed because it is
unpleasant to listen to and can disrupt classroom lessons. You might need to explain to younger students what you mean by
whining, perhaps providing examples of both appropriate and inappropriate ways of speaking. Help students understand that
they are more likely to get a positive response if they use a pleasant, grown-up voice, rather than a whiny one.
Gently correct the whiner. The first few times a student whines, say to her in a matter-of-fact manner: "I have trouble
understanding you when you use that voice, but I'll be glad to help you if you speak in a normal tone of voice." If the student
speaks normally in response to your comment, praise her and respond to her question or concern immediately.
Ignore the behavior. If the whining continues in spite of several corrections, you then might say in a neutral manner, "Sarah, you
are whining," and return to what you were doing without further response. Even expressions of annoyance can be reinforcing to
a student seeking attention, and could serve to maintain the behavior.
Identify factors that might be contributing to the whining. Observe the circumstances surrounding the student's whining; you
might be able to anticipate when the behavior will occur and take steps to prevent it. For example, a student might be more
likely to whine when she is tired, hungry, or frustrated.
Silently signal the student when she whines. The student might not recognize that she is using a whiny tone of voice. Arrange
to let her know when she is whining by giving her a non-verbal signal that only the two of you understand. You might pull your
ear or raise your eyebrows, for example. Or you might let the student choose the signal. The goal is not to embarrass her, but
to help her become more aware of when she is whining so she can learn to monitor herself.
Teach the student proper communication skills. A student might whine because that is the easiest way she knows to get others'
attention. If that is the case, meet with the student privately and teach her how to express a concern or ask for what she wants
in a respectful, pleasant, non-whiny manner. You might role-play with the student; giving her common school situations and
having her try different ways of responding to those situations.
Tape-record the student's whining. Consider taping the whining when the student is not aware of it. Find some private time with
her and play the tape so she can hear what her whining sounds like. Let her know that you are not trying to embarrass her, but
to help her overcome a problem that can cause her classmates to avoid her.

A Bullying Prevention Program

Bullying is a pervasive school problem that can have serious consequences for students. Fortunately, it's a problem that
schools can do something about.
Research indicates that when schools implement a comprehensive program of bullying prevention, they can significantly
reduce the problem of bullying. In fact, studies by Professor Dan Olweus, a Norwegian psychologist considered the world's
foremost authority on bullying, show that bullying incidents can be cut in half by implementing a school-wide anti-bullying
program. Bullying prevention programs, moreover, also hold the promise of doing more than preventing bullying. Schools that
implement those programs also might see a decrease in other anti-social behavior, including vandalism, fighting, theft and
For a bullying prevention program to be effective, it must be comprehensive in the true sense of the word. All adult members of
the school community, including administrators, teachers, counselors, psychologists, nurses, coaches, paraprofessionals,
secretaries, bus drivers, custodians and after-school staff, should participate in the program, because all are in a position to
witness acts of bullying.

A bullying prevention program must, of course, deal with individual students, but it also must address the school culture. Toward
that end, it is important to take steps to promote a climate of cooperation and caring. Schools can help deter bullying by
reinforcing acts of kindness and communicating values of tolerance, respect and responsibility.
Schools that are committed to implementing comprehensive bullying prevention programs should take the following steps:
Establish a committee to develop a school bullying policy and coordinate bullying prevention activities. The committee
might be an already existing group, such as the school safety committee, or it might be a one established for just this purpose.
Survey students about bullying. An important part of a bullying prevention program is to understand the dimensions of the
problem in your school. A useful way of obtaining that information is to conduct an anonymous survey of students.
Establish a clear policy prohibiting bullying and then communicate that policy to students, staff and parents. The
policy might be incorporated into the school's written code of conduct; it should -- at minimum -- include a definition of bullying,
a clear statement that bullying of any kind is prohibited, a description of the possible consequences for bullying, and
instructions for students who witness bullying.
Provide close and adequate supervision of areas where bullying is likely to occur. Bullying often
takes place outside the classroom -- in the hallway, at the bus stop, on the playground, in the locker
room, cafeteria, and bathroom, for example.
Provide training on bullying for teachers and other school staff School personnel need training
on recognizing the signs of bullying, knowing what to do when incidents happen, and learning how to
prevent bullying.
Through school-wide activities, raise student and staff awareness about bullying. School-wide
anti-bullying activities help remind students about school policy regarding bullying and the importance
of supporting their classmates. In addition, they help generate energy for the program.
Integrate bullying lessons and activities into the classroom curriculum. That might include conducting a lesson about
bullying, asking students to read a book about bullying and following up with a classroom discussion, or having a classroom
meeting focused on the issue of bullying.
Empower bystanders to support the victims of bullying. Although school staff members often are unaware that bullying is
taking place, typically other students are not only aware of the incidents, but are present when the incidents occur. Those
bystanders to bullying can play a crucial role in helping to address the problem.
Involve parents in the program. Parents need to be informed of school policies regarding bullying, and they need to be
encouraged to reinforce that policy with their children. Schools also might survey parents to elicit their views and knowledge of
bullying in school. Parents also need to be informed if their child has bullied, or has been bullied by, another child.
Pay special attention to students who are at risk for being bullied. Students are more likely to be bullied if they're isolated
from their classmates, in special education programs, speak English as a second language, have a physical characteristic that
makes them stand out from their peers, or are new to the school.
Take reports of bullying seriously and act quickly. Encourage staff to respond to all reports of bullying that come to their
attention. An incident that might appear minor to a teacher can loom large in the life of a student.
Respond to bullying incidents with a combination of disciplinary and guidance strategies. If a bullying incident happens,
it's essential that school staff work with all the students involved, providing the bully with appropriate discipline and guidance,
and providing the victim with emotional support and help with developing coping skills to deal with future incidents.

Understanding the Bully

Bullies typically are bigger and stronger than their classmates. They generally are of average intelligence, although their school
performance frequently is below average. They often have a history of aggressive behavior dating back to early elementary
school. Their quickness to anger might be fueled by their social misperceptions: they view the world as a threatening place and
perceive hostility where none is present.

Bullies can be very reactive to social slights and lash out at classmates with little provocation, perhaps
because they see no alternative to aggression. They often feel no remorse at hurting other children,
and show them little sympathy.
Children bully for a variety of reasons. Some torment their classmates to gain a sense of power and
control. Some bully in an effort to gain recognition and status from peers that they might not be able to
get in other ways. Others bully to compensate for feelings of inadequacy. Still others target their
classmates as a way of venting frustration with problems at home or problems in school (learning
problems or peer rejection, for example). And some bully because they've been bullied themselves.
Bullies usually choose as targets peers who are weak, unpopular, and unlikely to resist. They zero in
on children who stand out in some way, such as the teacher's pet, a child with a speech defect, a slow
learner, a child with big ears, a child who wears the "wrong" clothes. or the child for whom English is a
second language.
Children are not born bullies. Bullies are made -- which means they can be unmade. They often are taught from an early age
that the way to get what they want is through force. They learn to respond to challenges through confrontation, and to express
themselves with their fists rather than with words. As they get older, bullies are at risk for further acts of violence, including
frequent fighting and carrying weapons.
A bully's education in aggression usually begins at home. Often, bullies come from households where there is little parental
supervision and a lack of warmth and attention. Their parents might model aggressive behavior as a way of solving problems,
and/or discipline through a combination of angry outbursts and corporal punishment. The message the children receive is that
"might makes right." Those kind of parents might support their child's bullying behavior by their failure to disapprove of it, or
their outright endorsement of it. In addition, they often fail to model non-violent ways of dealing with social problems, so that
their children don't learn the social skills needed to resolve conflicts through cooperation.
Children also learn aggressive behavior from the media, notably from television. The amount of televised violence children
today are exposed to is simply astounding. By the age of 14, a child will have seen as many as 11,000 murders on television.
The average cartoon depicts 26 violent incidents. Children see television characters get their way, settle disputes, and acquire
things by using force without suffering any consequences. The lesson they learn is that aggression pays off. Research indicates
that children who see violence frequently on television can become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others and come
to view aggression as an acceptable way of solving problems.
School bullies often face problems as adults. They are more likely than their peers to drop out of school, have difficulty holding
jobs, have problems sustaining relationships, be abusive of their spouses, and have aggressive children. And they are more
prone to criminal behavior. One study that followed individuals over a 22-year period found that children who were aggressive
to their peers at age eight were five times more likely than their non-aggressive peers to have a criminal record (usually
antisocial offenses) by the age of 30.
A particularly alarming pattern is that aggressive children often grow up to be harsh, punitive parents who raise children who
become bullies themselves. In short, children of bullies often become bullies. The challenge for those working with aggressive
children and their families is to try to disrupt that cycle of violence.

Dealing With Bullying Incidents

No matter how diligent teachers are in trying to prevent bullying, incidents are likely to occur. If they do, you can take various
steps to deal with those incidents and avoid their spinning out of control. Some of those strategies are
discussed below.
Know your school's bullying policies. Before deciding how to respond to an incident, be sure to
review your school's policies and procedures for dealing with bullying. Those policies might be in the
school's code of conduct or in a separate document. If you have trouble finding them, check with the
Take reports of bullying seriously. Follow up on all reports of bullying, even those that appear
minor. Bear in mind that an incident that appears small to you could loom large to the student. Make
sure to not dismiss the incident with a "boys will be boys" attitude, or tell the victim that he must fight
his own battles. Assess the student's degree of distress and factor in your knowledge of his reactions
in determining how to respond. Be especially attentive to shy students who come to you.
Act quickly. If you learn that a student is being emotionally or physically harassed, take immediate action to ensure her safety
and security. The longer the abuse goes on, the greater the emotional impact on the student. Putting an immediate end to the
behavior is important, not only to protect the student but also to send a message to other students that you will not tolerate
bullying and will do whatever is necessary to ensure that your classroom is a safe haven.

Try to deal with the problem privately. Whether dealing with the bully or the victim, try to avoid a public airing of the issue.
The victim might feel humiliated by having the bullying discussed in front of his peers. The bully might feel the need to "save
face" by escalating her aggressive behavior if she's challenged by a teacher in front of her classmates. That could give rise to a
public power struggle that easily can spiral out of control.
Inform the principal. That is particularly important if the incident is serious or ongoing. The principal likely will want to contact
the parents of both the bully and the victim, as well as take disciplinary action with the bully. He or she also might want to inform
other school staff, such as guidance counselors and paraprofessionals involved with the students involved.
Support the victim. Ask the student who was bullied what happened and then listen sympathetically to her response, making
sure to convey that you take her concerns seriously and understand her distress. Reassure her that she did the right thing by
talking with you and that she is not to blame for the bullying. Emphasize that the bully was the one who behaved
inappropriately. Let the bullying victim know that you might need to inform other staff of the incident, but that the school will do
its best to ensure the bullying does not happen again. Encourage the child to tell you of future bullying incidents and make sure
to respond assertively if she does. If it appears that a child is being bullied in part because she is isolated from her peers, help
her connect with classmates.
Help the victim develop coping skills. If time allows, you might want to help a bullying victim develop effective ways of
responding to the attacks. In particular, you might want to teach him how to assert himself with the bully without being
aggressive. The goal is to help the student project a greater air of confidence without incurring the wrath of the bully. Toward
that end, consider role-playing with him, suggesting what he might say or do to deflect the taunting. Often the best response for
a student who is being taunted is a brief but direct "I-message," such as "I don't like what you're saying and I want you to stop"
-- and then walk away. If he can respond that way, he is less likely to be targeted in the future. Although a victim might be able
to defuse bullying with those strategies, it is critical that he understand that he is not responsible for resolving the bullying
problem and that he should not hesitate to seek help from an adult again if the suggested strategies don't work.
Try to connect with the bully. You likely will want to discipline bullies in some way. But just as a bully needs discipline, he also
needs support and guidance. You might find that a sympathetic, understanding approach elicits kinder, gentler behavior from
the student. Try taking the bully aside and talking with him in a non-threatening manner. Listen attentively without condoning his
behavior. Try to find out what motivated his behavior. It might be that he wrongly perceived hostility from another student. Or
that he was trying to gain status with his peers. Once you can identify what motivated the bullying, try to provide appropriate
guidance and emotional support. You might, for example, offer other explanations for the victim's behavior or help the bully
figure out how to gain attention in more appropriate ways. Ask him how else he might have responded, while offering some
suggestions of your own.
Monitor the situation. A student who has engaged in bullying is likely to do it again. Similarly a student who has been bullied
is at risk for being victimized by other students. As a result, it is important for you to pay close attention to students who have
been bullied and those who have done the bullying, and ask other staff to do the same. Make sure to check in with the victim
periodically to find out if he is experiencing any further bullying. Let both the bully and the victim know that you and other school
staff will be monitoring the situation closely. Their awareness of your vigilance will help discourage the bully from tormenting his
classmates and pro

Dealing with the Victim

Just as a bully warrants your attention, so too does a victim. Unfortunately, in many cases, bullies get more support from school
staff than the children they bully. Your success in counseling bullying victims will depend largely on your ability to establish trust
in the face of embarrassment and reluctance to talk about what happened.
Begin by asking what happened and listening sympathetically to the response. The victim needs a
chance to tell the story of what happened to him. Acknowledge his distress and let him know you're
sorry for what he experienced. Reassure him that he is not to blame for the bullying and praise him for
his willingness to speak with you about it. Encourage the student to tell you or another school staff
member of future bullying incidents as soon as possible, and reassure him that the school will make
every effort to stop future incidents. Also be sure to inform the victim's parents about the incident and
let him know you are going to do that.
You also might want to help the victim of bullying develop more effective coping skills -- although you
want to make sure to not place responsibility on him for dealing with the bullying. In coaching a
student how to respond, consider his age and the nature of the bullying. In some cases, you might
want to teach him how to assert himself with the bully. If so, try role-playing with him, suggesting what he might say or do to
deflect taunting and to project a greater air of confidence. Be sure he knows that it's not OK to respond physically to bullying.
Explain to a bullying victim that he doesn't need to respond with an elaborate or clever retort. Often the best response by a
student who is being taunted is to make a brief comment, such as "I don't like what you're saying, so stop it," and walk away.
Bullies often are looking for targets who are likely to dissolve in tears or passively accept the harassment. A child who does not
respond in a way that gives the bully what he wants is less likely to be targeted in the future.

In some cases, you might conclude that the victim was engaging in provocative behavior. Although you want to make sure the
bully understands that the victim's behavior does not justify mistreatment of him, nonetheless you might want to help the victim
eliminate those behaviors from his repertoire. In doing so, consider what emotional need he might be trying to satisfy with those
behaviors (often peer status and acceptance), and then help him find more appropriate behaviors to meet those needs.
If the child's teacher doesn't already know about the bullying incident, notify her and additional school staff involved with the
student, so they can monitor the situation. Also, check with the student after a couple of days and then periodically after that to
find out if the bullying has stopped. Even if the bullying has stopped, you still might want to provide him with guidance,
particularly if he is isolated from his peers. For example, you might help him expand his friendships and develop his social
In dealing with a bullying situation, one step you rarely should take is to treat the incident as a peer conflict and try to mediate a
solution by getting the bully and victim together. If it is a true bullying situation, there is an imbalance of power between the two
students --and probably no conflict to resolve. Getting them together is likely to be intimidating for the victim and might signal to
him that he has done something wrong that needs to be resolved. Conflict resolution procedures usually are appropriate only
when there is parity between the students or fault on both sides.
The message to the victim of bullying always should be that the bully has acted inappropriately and that school staff will take
responsibility for resolving the problem.

Lack of Motivation
A motivational problem is not always easy to define, although teachers usually have no trouble recognizing it: The unmotivated
student is the one whose attitude toward schoolwork screams, "I don't care!"

The unmotivated student actually is highly motivated when it comes to schoolwork -- he's motivated to avoid it. He puts more
work into avoiding academic challenges than he puts into tackling them. Although his test scores often convey high potential,
his classroom performance suggests something else. When given an assignment, the unmotivated student will shrug his
shoulders and complain, "Why do we have to do this?" He gives up at the first sign of a challenge. He is content with just
getting by.
When working with an unmotivated student, you face two challenges. The first is to change his thinking so he comes to believe
that, if he puts forth effort, he can be successful with academic tasks. The second is to figure out what does motivate him -- to
identify the settings, situations, and conditions that he responds to and that can be used to foster his interest.
Interrupt the cycle of failure. An unmotivated student often is a demoralized student. Try to alter his perceptions by
orchestrating positive academic experiences. Assign work that gives him a feeling of accomplishment, but that he is capable of
completing successfully. Structure the assignment so the beginning is relatively easy, hopefully giving him confidence to move
on. If he struggles with a task, focus on what he has done well; gently correct his mistakes without criticizing. Help him
understand that setbacks and mistakes are a normal part of the learning process. As he begins to enjoy more success, his
confidence will grow and he will become more willing to take risks.
Give a choice of assignments. An unmotivated student often is more likely to put forth effort if he has a say in the
assignment. For example, you might allow him to choose from among three assignments -- each of which meets your objective.
In studying the Civil War, for example, he might choose to do a book report, an oral presentation, or an art project. (Of course,
you reserve the right to require him to do certain essential assignments.) Keep an eye out for other ways to give the student
some ownership over the learning process; by having him choose what book he will read or what topic he will write about or
what reward or he will receive for reaching a goal.
Incorporate the student's interests into the lesson. Find out some of the student's interests. (You might have him complete
an interest inventory.) and try to integrate those interests into your lessons or classroom activities. If the student has a paper
route, for example, you might design math problems requiring him to calculate how much he would earn delivering papers
under various conditions. If you are doing a transportation unit and the student builds model airplanes, have him bring in some
models to show the class. If the student is artistic, invite him to help you design your bulletin boards. If he excels on the
computer, have him become the class troubleshooter.
Relate lessons to real life. Students who are unmotivated often want to know "Why do I have to know this?" Help them see
how classroom lessons can be applied to life outside the classroom. When teaching shapes, for example, have students point
out shapes in the classroom. Show why being able to count is essential when buying things at the store. In a unit on plant life,

have students make a leaf collection. Plan field trips that show how their lessons work in real life. For example, plan a trip to a
recycling center as part of a unit on the environment.
Break tasks into manageable steps. Some students put forth little effort because they see the task as overwhelming. If that's
the case with your student, present the task in small chunks. Give the student one step at a time, and don't move on until he
has mastered that step. As the student gains skill and confidence, gradually expand the size of the task, give him more difficult
problems, or move at a faster pace. Apply the same approach to homework. If the student struggles with math and rarely
completes those homework assignments, consider giving him half the number of problems the other students do; select
problems you are confident he can complete.
Expand your teaching style to spark interest. A student who appears to be in the dark when listening to classroom lectures
can light up during hands-on activities. For example, you might have students participate in a debate about a controversial
historical issue, conduct an experiment to demonstrate a science principle, or do a cooking project to learn about different units
of measurement. Those kinds of activities stimulate students' interests and help them retain concepts.
Focus on the student's individual progress rather than on his performance in relation to his peers. A student who is
compared to classmates who outperform him -- even if his poor performance is due to a lack of effort -- eventually can become
discouraged and shut down completely. You can avoid that by focusing on the student's improvement rather than on his
performance relative to his classmates. You might evaluate the student through a portfolio assessment in which you examine
his work during the year and consider his progress a measure of his performance. The student might receive a confidence
boost by seeing how his work has improved over the course of the year.

by Saul McLeod

published 2011, updated 2013

Lawrence Kohlberg (1958) agreed with Piaget's (1932) theory of moral development in principle but wanted to develop his ideas
He used Piagets story-telling technique to tell people stories involving moral dilemmas. In each case he presented a choice to
be considered, for example between the rights of some authority and the needs of some deserving individual who is being
unfairly treated.
One of the best known of Kohlbergs (1958) stories concerns a man called Heinz who lived somewhere in Europe.
Heinzs wife was dying from a particular type of cancer. Doctors said a new drug might save her. The drug had been
discovered by a local chemist and the Heinz tried desperately to buy some, but the chemist was charging ten times the
money it cost to make the drug and this was much more than the Heinz could afford.
Heinz could only raise half the money, even after help from family and friends. He explained to the chemist that his wife was
dying and asked if he could have the drug cheaper or pay the rest of the money later. The chemist refused saying that he
had discovered the drug and was going to make money from it. The husband was desperate to save his wife, so later that
night he broke into the chemists and stole the drug.

Kohlberg asked a series of questions such as:

1. Should Heinz have stolen the drug?
2. Would it change anything if Heinz did not love his wife?
3. What if the person dying was a stranger, would it make any difference?
4. Should the police arrest the chemist for murder if the woman died?
By studying the answers from children of different ages to these questions Kohlberg hoped to discover the ways in which moral
reasoning changed as people grew older. The sample comprised 72 Chicago boys aged 1016 years, 58 of whom were
followed up at three-yearly intervals for 20 years (Kohlberg, 1984).

Kohlberg told several dilemma stories and asked many such questions to discover how people reasoned about moral issues.
He identified three distinct levels of moral reasoning each with two sub stages. People can only pass through these levels in the
order listed. Each new stage replaces the reasoning typical of the earlier stage. Not everyone achieves all the stages.

Kohlberg Stages of Moral Development

Level 1 - Pre-conventional morality
At the pre-conventional level (most nine-year-olds and younger, some over nine), we dont have a personal code of morality.
Instead, our moral code is shaped by the standards of adults and the consequences of following or breaking their rules.
Authority is outside the individual and reasoning is based on the physical consequences of actions.
Stage 1. Obedience and Punishment Orientation. The child/individual is good in order to avoid being punished. If a person
is punished they must have done wrong.
Stage 2. Individualism and Exchange. At this stage children recognize that there is not just one right view that is handed
down by the authorities. Different individuals have different viewpoints.

Level 2 - Conventional morality

At the conventional level (most adolescents and adults), we begin to internalize the moral standards of valued adult role
Authority is internalized but not questioned and reasoning is based on the norms of the group to which the person belongs.
Stage 3. Good Interpersonal Relationships. The child/individual is good in order to be seen as being a good person by
others. Therefore, answers are related to the approval of others.
Stage 4. Maintaining the Social Order. The child/individual becomes aware of the wider rules of society so judgments
concern obeying rules in order to uphold the law and to avoid guilt.

Level 3 - Post-conventional morality

Individual judgment is based on self-chosen principles, and moral reasoning is based on individual rights and justice (1015%
of adults, not before mid-30s).
Stage 5. Social Contract and Individual Rights. The child/individual becomes aware that while rules/laws might exist for the
good of the greatest number, there are times when they will work against the interest of particular individuals. The issues are
not always clear cut. For example, in Heinzs dilemma the protection of life is more important than breaking the law against
Stage 6. Universal Principles. People at this stage have developed their own set of moral guidelines which may or may not
fit the law. The principles apply to everyone. E.g. human rights, justice and equality. The person will be prepared to act to
defend these principles even if it means going against the rest of society in the process and having to pay the consequences of
disapproval and or imprisonment. Kohlberg doubted few people reached this stage.

Critical Evaluation Problems with Kohlberg's Methods

1. The dilemmas are artificial (i.e. they lack ecological validity)
Most of the dilemmas are unfamiliar to most people (Rosen, 1980). For example it is all very well in the Heinz dilemma asking
subjects whether Heinz should steal the drug to save his wife.

However Kohlbergs subjects were aged between 7 and 16. They have never been married, and never been placed in a
situation remotely like the one in the story. How should they know whether Heinz should steal the drug?
2. The sample is biased
According to Gilligan (1977), because Kohlbergs theory was based on an all-male sample, the stages reflect a male definition
of morality (its androcentric). Mens' morality is based on abstract principles of law and justice, while womens' is based on
principles of compassion and care.
Further, the gender bias issue raised by Gilligan is a reminded of the significant gender debate still present in psychology, which
when ignored, can have a large impact on results obtained through psychological research.
2. The dilemmas are hypothetical (i.e. they are not real)
In a real situation what course of action a person takes will have real consequences and sometimes very unpleasant ones for
themselves. Would subjects reason in the same way if they were placed in a real situation? We just dont know.
The fact that Kohlbergs theory is heavily dependent on an individuals response to an artificial dilemma brings question to
the validity of the results obtained through this research. People may respond very differently to real life situations that they
find themselves in than they do to an artificial dilemma presented to them in the comfort of a research environment.
3. Poor research design
The way in which Kohlberg carried out his research when constructing this theory may not have been the best way to test
whether all children follow the same sequence of stage progression. His research was cross-sectional , meaning that he
interviewed children of different ages to see what level of moral development they were at.
A better way to see if all children follow the same order through the stages would have been to carry out longitudinal research
on the same children.
However, longitudinal research on Kohlbergs theory has since been carried out by Colby et al. (1983) who tested 58 male
participants of Kohlbergs original study. She tested them 6 times in the span of 27 years and found support for Kohlbergs
original conclusion, that we all pass through the stages of moral development in the same order.

Problems with Kohlberg's Theory

1. Are there distinct stages to moral development?
Kohlberg claims that there are but the evidence does not always support this conclusion. For example a person who justified a
decision on the basis of principled reasoning in one situation (post conventional morality stage 5 or 6) would frequently fall back
on conventional reasoning (stage 3 or 4) in another story. In practice it seems that reasoning about right and wrong depends
more upon the situation than upon general rules.
What is more individuals do not always progress through the stages and Rest (1979) found that one in fourteen actually slipped
backwards. The evidence for distinct stages to moral development looks very weak and some would argue that behind the
theory is a culturally biased belief in the superiority of American values over those of other cultures and societies.
2. Does moral judgement match moral behavior?
Kohlberg never claimed that there would be a one to one correspondence between thinking and acting (what we say and what
we do) but he does suggest that the two are linked. However Bee (1994) suggest that we also need to take account of:
a) habits that people have developed over time.
b) whether people see situations as demanding their participation.

c) the costs and benefits of behaving in a particular way.

d) competing motive such as peer pressure self interest and so on.
Overall Bee points out that moral behavior is only partly a question of moral reasoning. It is also to do with social factors.
3. Is justice the most fundamental moral principle?
This is Kohlbergs view. However Gilligan (1977) suggests that the principle of caring for others is equally important.
Furthermore Kohlberg claims that the moral reasoning of males is often in advance of that of females.
Girls are often found to be at stage 3 in Kohlbergs system (good boy-nice girl orientation) whereas boys are more often found
to be at stage 4 (Law and Order orientation). Gilligan replies:
the very traits that have traditionally defined the goodness of women, their care for and sensitivity to the needs of others, are
those that mark them out as deficient in moral development.
In other words Gilligan is claiming that there is a sex bias in Kohlbergs theory. He neglects the feminine voice of compassion,
love and non-violence, which is associated with the socialization of girls.
Gilligan reached the conclusion that Kohlbergs theory did not account for the fact that women approach moral problems from
an ethics of care, rather than an ethics of justice perspective, which challenges some of the fundamental assumptions of
Kohlbergs theory.