How do you deal with a difficult student at the secondary level? We don't do cute behavior incentives in high school, and other behavior interventions haven't been effective. Therefore, I'm sharing the behavior contract I created that I used with a couple of particularly difficult students. Click through to read about the contract and download it!
If you think I have the answers here, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. I'm far from having any answers.

I'm not superhuman--none of us are (although it seems at times that everybody expects us to be). I've been in the classroom for 14 years, and I still have students I have no idea how to help.

I create engaging lessons, I get to know them, we play games, I call their parents, I (gasp) write referrals, but nothing works.

Case in point--"Thomas" is constantly out of his seat. He bothers everyone around him. He talks to other students all the way across the room. When you correct him, he argues. One second, he's on task and talking (always talking) about how much he loves your class. The next second (after you tell him to knock the volume down a couple of notches) he's talking about how much he hates the class--out of his seat again, texting (a scene when you take his phone--he insists it was his mom)--he stares at his phone in "phone jail" and points and shouts, "She has her phone out," "He's on his phone!"

"Man, stop bein' a snitch," the other kids say.

I am, of course, speaking from experience. This particular student is like a tidal wave of chaos everywhere he goes.

But he's not a bad kid. He's even quite lovable, really.

But I cannot let him be a force of disruption in my classroom. That's not fair to everybody else (and everybody else in this particular class has an enormous capacity for disruption, as well).

So, what do I do?

Well, here's what I've done:

1. Sent him to my quiet area. This is an opportunity for him to get away and reflect. You can download the poster and handout for free HERE to see what I'm talking about. He totally missed the point. Instead of completing a reflection sheet, he completed a page from one of my fourth grade son's math workbooks (I keep one on the shelf at the back of my room so he can practice on teacher workdays). I had to work really hard not to laugh when he handed that one to me because, really, that was funny.

2. Called home. (No change evident--his parents are doing their best--I truly believe this--I also believe that free will exists and that humans are not robots to be programmed--he has to decide to do the right thing. Yes, they can make it unpleasant for him, but that doesn't guarantee that he'll change.)

3. Told his coaches (apparently, running laps doesn't phase him).

4. Wrote an office referral. He really didn't care about this, and he complained that I was picking on him.

What do I do next? I teach high school, after all. I see a large number of students everyday. We don't do cute behavior incentives--we just don't. But maybe we should?

I also don't want to start the flurry of office referrals. I'd like to teach this student (but I can't at the expense of everybody else).

So, I'm going to try something that I've only done once before in 14 years--a behavior contract.

I've watched him, and I know what his issues are, so I'll fill out this baby I made five years ago, meet with his parents and an administrator, and have everybody sign so that we're all on the same page. The ball's in his court now (theoretically, anyway).

I'll put a tally mark in each category each time that the undesired behavior is displayed.
How do you deal with a difficult student at the secondary level? We don't do cute behavior incentives in high school, and other behavior interventions haven't been effective. Therefore, I'm sharing the behavior contract I created that I used with a couple of particularly difficult students. Click through to read about the contract and download it!
Download it Now!

The behavior is the responsibility of the student--not the parents and not the teacher. Here's an example of one filled out:
How do you deal with a difficult student at the secondary level? We don't do cute behavior incentives in high school, and other behavior interventions haven't been effective. Therefore, I'm sharing the behavior contract I created that I used with a couple of particularly difficult students. Click through to read about the contract and download it!

I'll make sure that there's a goal to work toward and a reward for achieving it. It could be an ice cream at lunch, or getting to leave with the seniors on Friday (they are dismissed five minutes early at my school [careful with something like that, though :)]). Homework passes, an extra restroom pass, etc....

How do you deal with difficult students? Leave a comment below to let me know.

Stick around and check out these posts!
Memorial Day: A Time to Reflect
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Helping Your Students Overcome Burnout
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The Top 10 Reasons I Choose to Teach
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It's time again for that back-to-school sale on Teachers Pay Teachers! Get all of the information about the latest sale on Teachers Pay Teachers, and learn more about the latest freebie I have available in my store. Happy back-to-school season!
Tonight I am taking a break from making a test and review game for my newest course to write this post. I wasn't going to do it initially. The school year is in full swing for me, and I'm crazy busy.

First of all, my son has started fourth grade and the homework and project load is like nothing that he's dealt with before.

Second, I'm teaching a course that I've never taught before (you know the work load of that).

Third, I have a particular class this semester in my wheelhouse subject of world history that is proving quite a challenge for several reasons that I won't go into but that any teacher can probably imagine.

So, I wasn't going to post on a Tuesday evening, but as I was working on a Kahoot review for my new subject at 7:30 on a Tuesday evening while my son was asking me questions about the parts of a sentence, I suddenly thought..."We all work so hard as teachers--little breaks are nice."

It's time again for that back-to-school sale on Teachers Pay Teachers! Get all of the information about the latest sale on Teachers Pay Teachers, and learn more about the latest freebie I have available in my store. Happy back-to-school season!I love stumbling across a great idea or ready-to-use resource on a blog that saves me unexpected time. I posted one such extra credit printable on my blog on Saturday, and was elated when a teacher left a comment that she had been looking for a fresh extra credit activity to use in her classes, and that this was it. It's great to help, and it's great to be helped--I believe that as teachers, that is how our professional community generally rolls.

Tomorrow is the bonus back to school sale at teacherspayteachers.com. Most sellers are setting their stores at 20% off, and we get an additional 8% off if we enter the code MORE15.

All of my products, including my bundles, will be 28% off, but for tomorrow only, I'm offering this useful vocabulary board game for FREE. It's in both color and black and white.

It's time again for that back-to-school sale on Teachers Pay Teachers! Get all of the information about the latest sale on Teachers Pay Teachers, and learn more about the latest freebie I have available in my store. Happy back-to-school season!I have a printed and laminated color version that I keep at my vocabulary anchor station, but I've also printed a set of nine for group reviews. I place the boards and directions in protective sleeves, and I print a set of cards off of quizlet.com for each group (I have each group cut them out before they play:)).

It's a part of a larger vocabulary bundle pack (all of which I use at my anchor stations).
Vocabulary Board Game
Get It FREE here for a limited time!
My World History Interactive Notebook Mega Bundle will also be 28% off. That's a huge savings considering that if you get it now, you get the last two units at no additional charge. It's currently Ancient Civilizations through Between the World Wars. I'm working on the WWII unit currently.
You can preview the bundle below and get it HERE.
Your students can use Pinterest in the classroom! Wait...come again? That's right! In this blog post, I explain an extra credit activity that I've created for my high school students where they can use Pinterest to further expand upon their learning on our in-class topics. Learn more about how I make this work for my students inside this post about how students use Pinterest in my classroom.
This week, I'm linking up with the Secondary Smorgasbord to talk about Pinterest in the classroom. Thanks to Darlene Anne Curren and Pamela Kranz for hosting!

There are so many uses for Pinterest out there. I have a board for each subject that I teach and use them to plan units. I also have a board for outfits that I like and intend to copy (great for hunting deals). I also use it to plan meals during the hectic school year so that my family doesn't fall down the take-out rabbit hole (by the time I get to the pizza section, I'm too big to fall any further, and I just get stuck). You can check out my boards here.

So, Pinterest is very useful. But I got the idea to use Pinterest as an extra credit opportunity for my students, and that works really well. I currently teach high school world history, sociology, and psychology. I have taught ELA and middle school in the past, and I know that this would work for each of those subjects and grade levels, but I'll use world history as an example.

Since not all of my students have equal internet access and rules in their home, I make this an extra credit opportunity. One requirement I do have in the course is for students to complete a current event paragraph for each unit. Students find a current event that relates geographically or topically to our current unit of study. They summarize the article, explain why it is important, and connect it to our unit. You can see it here.

I make Pinterest an extension of that. Students create a world history board and send me the link so that I can follow. They also go to blogger and set up a world history blog for free (but they have to be 13 to open one--I also get parents to sign for permission). They pin five current events or articles that they find about the topic we are studying (this was really great last year when we got to WWI as it was the 100th anniversary of the outbreak).

The sixth pin is a link to their blog post reflecting on the five pins. Here's the handout I use.
Your students can use Pinterest in the classroom! Wait...come again? That's right! In this blog post, I explain an extra credit activity that I've created for my high school students where they can use Pinterest to further expand upon their learning on our in-class topics. Learn more about how I make this work for my students inside this post about how students use Pinterest in my classroom.
Download it now!



Students are engaged and are creating actual social media about the class. My school doesn't block Pinterest, so I put the QR codes to their boards and blogs and create a station in my room where early finishers can check them out.

There are so many possibilities with this. In ELA, students can pin poems, short stories, young adult novels. They can use the blog to write reports and original poems and stories. In psychology, they can use it to consider new research (there's a ton out there). In sociology, they can consider various cultures and norms from around the world.

Would you use Pinterest like this in your classroom? If so, let me know how and for what subject. If not, how do you use Pinterest in your classroom? Leave a comment below to let me know.

Also, follow the links below to find out how many top-notch secondary teacher-bloggers are also benefiting from Pinterest.

See you next Monday!


Pin It in the Classroom: How Are Teachers Using Pinterest?


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Every teacher has his or her own reasons for teaching, and in this blog post, I'm sharing my top 10 reasons why I CHOOSE to teach. I've had other people recommend I do something else, but teaching has a special place in my heart, and I explain why in this post. I'd love for you to comment after you read it and share why you teach!

Once another teacher, who was getting ready to retire, asked me, "Why do you do this? You're a smart girl. You could do anything." She then recommended that I check into pharmaceutical sales.

It wasn't the first (or the last) time that some one has asked me why I would want to teach, but it stands out in my mind because it is the only time another teacher has asked me that.

It's a question I have mixed emotions about. On the one hand, I'm flattered that people think I could do better. On the other hand, I'm offended that people think I could do better.

Every teacher has his or her own reasons for teaching, and in this blog post, I'm sharing my top 10 reasons why I CHOOSE to teach. I've had other people recommend I do something else, but teaching has a special place in my heart, and I explain why in this post. I'd love for you to comment after you read it and share why you teach!The truth is--I'm proud to call myself a teacher. I take a lot of pride in my profession, and I have a lot of respect for my colleagues. I work with veteran teachers who have taught me more than I can ever repay. I work with brand new teachers, who are full of fresh ideas and ready to collaborate in a way that a large portion of the previous generation of secondary teachers weren't.

My students have been back for two days now, and the honeymoon is already over in my fourth block. I'm currently drained because they are the last class I see before heading home.

Even so, I don't want to be an administrator. I don't want to sell pharmaceuticals. I don't want to be a dental hygienist or a hand model. I don't want to leave the classroom.

Why not, you ask? I could do other things, but here are the top 10 reasons why I CHOOSE to teach:

10. Why lie? The holidays are sweet. Summer is a time for family and adventure. I can rest assured that I won't be called in to work on Christmas Eve.
9. I keep the same hours as my husband (also a teacher) and son. They're at school when I am. We're home together at the end of the day and on the weekends.
8. I get paid to talk about and learn history. How perfect is that?
7. My colleagues and I have similar values (family and education), which is nice.
6. It's a fun challenge to try to figure out creative and entertaining ways to teach the same old topics.
5. Stories. I have so many funny classroom stories that are worth 100xs their weight in ink.
4. Community. My school is an important part of the community, and it's nice to be a part of that. Whether it's participating in fund raisers for veterans or for the local group home, it's gratifying to contribute and to provide students with opportunities to do so.
3. It's truly NEVER boring. Time flies.
2. I have autonomy--really. The tests and paper work are a headache, but in practice, I get to close my door and teach.

And the NUMBER ONE reason I choose to teach...
1. The students. How amazing is it to make a difference in a student's life? To make them feel a part of something? To see them develop interests outside of their personal technological bubble and to maybe have some part in that?

As the Teacher New Year comes into full swing, I know I'll get frustrated. I know there will be days that I question my choices like other people have. But I just don't think I'd be as happy doing anything else.

Why do you teach? How do you answer that question? Leave a comment below to let me know!

Pre-planning for teachers at the beginning of the school year is often an overwhelming time. You not only have to start planning your units and lessons for the beginning of the school year, but you're also usually stuck in a lot of administrative meetings - and with a long administrative to-do list. So, I'm focusing on three tips to making pre-planning easier for every teacher!
I'm linking up with social studies teachers for a blog hop on back to school tips AND a giveaway of free resources. Be sure to check it out at the end of this post!

My family had a blast playing the hometown tourist this summer, but today my husband and I returned for pre-planning.

I'm overwhelmed to say the very least. There's so much to do, and I'm teaching a course this semester that I've never taught before. I feel like I have world history and sociology by the nose, what with my interactive notebooks, but the new course, psychology, well--that's another matter.

I will be reading and relying on the experience of others often this semester.

But there's still room to grow in the courses that I've taught over and over. The book study that the Tools for Teaching Teens group and I blogged about this summer reminded me of that. You can read all about it here. It really got me thinking about differentiation and ways to improve. My big leap in the Teacher New Year is Stations. Yes--stations--in high school. But I'll talk more about that in a couple of weeks.

Right now I want to discuss just how long my to do list is--impossible for the amount of time I have to get ready. And the administration--that omnipresent entity--has its own idea of what I should be doing. So, I made the executive decision to narrow my list down to three items. I'm going to write in the second person because I believe these three things are imperative for any overwhelmed teacher preparing for the students to return.

The 3 Things on My Pre-Planning List 

Pre-planning for teachers at the beginning of the school year is often an overwhelming time. You not only have to start planning your units and lessons for the beginning of the school year, but you're also usually stuck in a lot of administrative meetings - and with a long administrative to-do list. So, I'm focusing on three tips to making pre-planning easier for every teacher!

Pre-planning for teachers at the beginning of the school year is often an overwhelming time. You not only have to start planning your units and lessons for the beginning of the school year, but you're also usually stuck in a lot of administrative meetings - and with a long administrative to-do list. So, I'm focusing on three tips to making pre-planning easier for every teacher! Nothing sends the message to students on the first day of school that you mean business like having a seating chart ready to go.

The Ideal: The best thing to do is check all of their information (test scores, lexile levels, grades, and behavior) and seat them accordingly. Here's a great video blog explaining the process.

The Reality: You probably don't have time to do that by the first day. Don't worry. You can do that later. For the first day, print off a class roster, put a number next to each name, number each desk or seat (write on it with a sharpie paint pen--it wipes right off when you color over it with a dry erase marker). Students will sit at the seat with the same number that is next to their name. It's easy for you, and it sends the same message to the students.

Pre-planning for teachers at the beginning of the school year is often an overwhelming time. You not only have to start planning your units and lessons for the beginning of the school year, but you're also usually stuck in a lot of administrative meetings - and with a long administrative to-do list. So, I'm focusing on three tips to making pre-planning easier for every teacher! Knowing where you're going is important. It brings focus to the class and keeps everything moving.

The Ideal: You have all of your first units planned out, and copies of all handouts ready to go.

The Reality: You're stuck in meetings and dealing with administrative demands during pre-planning. Plan your first week. Make sure you've copied everything you need for the first day (syllabus...get to know you activity...etc...). Then take it a day at a time until you catch up.

Pre-planning for teachers at the beginning of the school year is often an overwhelming time. You not only have to start planning your units and lessons for the beginning of the school year, but you're also usually stuck in a lot of administrative meetings - and with a long administrative to-do list. So, I'm focusing on three tips to making pre-planning easier for every teacher! It's important to make your classroom inviting. Your students should feel comfortable, and they probably won't when the walls are bare.

The Ideal: You spend a small fortune at Ikea. You have framed pictures on the wall, lamps instead of those harsh florescent lights, and super cute bulletin boards (yes, even in high school).

The Reality: You're on a tight budget, and again, there's a boatload of administrative work to do. Have the students decorate your classroom on the first day. Whatever your get-to-know you activity is, make it an opportunity for decorating. Have students create a collage about their interests or an "I Am" poem....Then have THEM hang up their products.

Here's an ebook filled with printables (and opportunities for student decorating) to make your first day easier. Get it for free HERE.
Pre-planning for teachers at the beginning of the school year is often an overwhelming time. You not only have to start planning your units and lessons for the beginning of the school year, but you're also usually stuck in a lot of administrative meetings - and with a long administrative to-do list. So, I'm focusing on three tips to making pre-planning easier for every teacher!

Have an amazing school year, and remember, work smarter, not harder! Go to the movies or something this weekend :).

What shortcuts do you take to fit "everything" in? Leave a comment below to let me know.

And be sure to enter to win FREE teaching Resources Below, and check out the other Back To School Tips from the other social studies teacher-bloggers.


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