July 19, 2024


Education, What Else?

What We’ll Be Talking About at Our Building Strong Behavior & Culture Workshop May 11 & 12

3 min read
What We’ll Be Talking About at Our Building Strong Behavior & Culture Workshop May 11 & 12

Positive Classroom Culture = Happy Kids + Happy Teacher + Maximum Learning

Vibrant, positive, productive classroom culture is a foundation of learning. Students do their best work when their time is honored and when they feel safe, successful and known.

But easier said than done. It’s hard work building pitch-perfect cultures that maximize learning.

On May 11 and 12 in Troy, NY (just outside Albany) we’ll spend two days studying how to make that happen.

We’ll look for example at how important it is for teachers to to look!

See for example how Arielle Hoo gives a clear and concise observable direction and then makes it clear by looking carefully for follow-through that the directions matter. Her students are on it!


Over and over her directions are crisp and clear and she takes a moment to make sure students see her looking at whether they’ve done it, as in this still shot, just after she’s asked for “books closed and eyes up here.”


Her students respond and she rewards them with dynamic teaching and a bit of appreciation: a thanks, a nod, a smile.  If students are not with her she makes an Anonymous Individual Correction such as, “waiting on one.” The result is time on learning and a dynamic learning environment that students appreciate.

We call this the What To Do Cycle.

The 4 key components are:

  • What To Do Directions: Give clear concrete observable directions for the task you want students to do.
  • Be Seen Looking: Look deliberately for follow through after you direction. Make sure that students see you looking so they know it matters to you and they know you’ll notice whether they do it.
  • Narrate the Positive: Acknowledge (but don’t praise) students as they begin to do it: “Thanks, Chris, for getting started right away. Thanks Jasmine.”
  • Correct When Necessary: Use the Least Invasive form of correction such as Positive Group Correction (Make sure your pencil is moving) or Anonymous Individual Correction (Still need two see two students writing).


Speaking of “narrating the positive” or describing positive behaviors in a way that shows appreciation and makes positive norms more visible to fellow students, watch how Janelle Austin uses that idea masterfully here:

The highlight of this clip is the moment when Janelle says, “I see hands up that are ready to read,” and suddenly everyone’s hand goes up. Once students recognize that positive behavior is the norm, they are usually all-in.

We’ll also talk quite a bit about having strong routines for core academic behaviors such as Turn and Talk.  Watch this clip of Christine Torres. Those silly kids. They seem to think vocabulary is about as much fun as a class can have. In part it’s because the routines for Turning and Talking and other behaviors are so crisp there’s no a second of down time. In pat it’s because when they know how to participate and be successful students feel a part of something.


A happy productive positive learning environment is a gift to young people- and, we think, they deserve as much every day.

If you’d like to invest in your or your school’s capacity to build make sure the 23-24 school year starts off with maximum positivity and productivity, please join us at the workshop. Seats are open to everyone.  Details here:

Building Strong Classroom Cultures

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