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Randy Sprick's Safe & Civil Schools Newsletter

August 2006

Coaching for Classroom Management     «»     Results from the Field     «»     Upcoming Events


Coaching Goes Beyond the Basketball Court...

Mark Twain once remarked that everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. The same can be said about the problem of classroom discipline. Everyone agrees it is a problem, but nobody knows what to do about it.

Recently, there have been some attempts. A quick survey of shows an outpouring of new books on classroom management, school climate and culture, teacher induction, positive behavior support, functional assessments, and the like. Over the last 30 years, research in psychology, behavior, and school and teacher effectiveness has identified much of what is required to skillfully manage behavior. But much of that same research demonstrates that consistency in implementation is problematic.

Consider coaching—the act of assisting teachers with classroom management—as an answer to this often spotty performance.

We consider coaching to be the keystone—the final stone placed at the peak of an arch that gives that arch its strength and stability. Without coaching, any training teachers receive is far less likely to be implemented in the classroom.

What makes someone a coach?

Anyone who has regular contact with a classroom teacher can potentially play a role in professional development regarding classroom management. By the nature of their jobs, administrators tend to function in an evaluative capacity. Teaching peers are typically non-evaluative.

We strongly advise a non-evaluative role for most coaches. The role should be geared entirely to help teachers; there should be no direct link to teacher evaluation. We call this type of non-evaluative coaching collaborative coaching.

To maximize the effectiveness of any effort to manage behavior, a schoolwide approach to classroom management is optimal. The important thing to keep in mind is that teachers, administrators, and coaches need to be on the same page regarding classroom management. They need to share the same understanding of what constitutes effective classroom management, and the same expectations for first steps to be taken or decisions to be made.

—Excerpt from Coaching Classroom Management: A Toolkit for Administrators and Coaches by Randy Sprick, Jim Knight, Wendy Reineke, and Trisha McKale    Available early 2007!


Results from the Field

We recently heard from several schools about the results they are having with START on Time! — and, those results are excellent!   Please, read on...

Monticello Independent Schools, Monticello, Kentucky

Monticello Principal, Johnny Chaplin says, "In the fall semester of the 04-05 school year, before Start on Time, we had over 2000 tardies. In the spring semester, using the Start on Time program we had reduced the tardies to around 500 for the semester. Many days we had as little as 1 tardy for the whole day, the results were unbelievable!"

H. Grady Spruce High School, Dallas, Texas

According to Israel Cordero, who last year served as the Assistant Principal at Spruce, staff and students at this large urban high school have been working to change the climate of their school. After two years with START on Time! and Foundations, they have:

  • reduced expellable offenses by more than 90%
  • reduced referrals 50%
  • reduced tardies by 50% or more
  • greatly reduced employee assaults
  • greatly increased staff and faculty morale
  • greatly increased teacher instructional time

Mr. Cordero goes on to say, "Administrators, teachers, students, and community members have all mentioned that school was better than they had ever seen it. One custodial staff member told me that in 16 years at Spruce, he had never seen the students so focused and well behaved. An administrator who has worked at Spruce for 20 years concurred. It has been a wonderful feeling to hear/see an entire community share a common feeling that has created such a positive momentum focused on teaching and learning."

Hill Classical Middle School, Long Beach, California

Principal Peter Davis told us, "Tardies have gone down tremendously. We average 20-25 tardies per week. At one point, we were as high as 100 per week."

He also mentioned other effects the START on Time! program has had at Hill Classical Middle:

  • The hallways are calmer. Adult presence makes a difference.
  • Language in the hallways is better.
  • Traffic flow in the hallways is safer—pushing, shoving, and running have been curtailed.
  • Expectations for student behavior are being met by students, which has a positive effect on the campus and helps raise student expectations in other areas.
  • Negative staff members cannot maintain their negativity because they can see that this is working.
  • It helps to shape the culture of the school for hallway and other expectations.
  • It is easier to implement other components of Safe & Civil Schools programs once staff and students see the success of START on Time! and realize how these other components are connected.

We'd like to extend our congratulations and and thanks to these school staffs—congratulations on the work you have done, and thanks for giving us the opportunity to work with you and for sharing your data with us! Keep up the good work!

Is it possible that half of our high school students may NOT believe that adults in school care about their learning and about them as individuals?
—Robert W. Blum

This is a question Dr. Blum poses in an article he wrote for Educational Leadership entitled, A Case for School Connectedness (April, 2005).

In the article, he states that adolescents who feel connected to school are less likely to engage in potentially harmful or dangerous activities, such as drug and alcohol abuse, agressive or violent behavior, and early sexual activity. Conversely, these students are more likely to succeed both socially and academically. Dr. Blum goes on to explain what schools can do to foster school connectedness among students.

For more information about the importance of connecting adolescents to their schools and what you can do to help foster school connectedness, visit these sites:

If you are a member of ASCD, you can read A Case for School Connectedness online at the ASCD website at

A monograph, Improving the Odds: The Untapped Power of Schools to Improve the Health of Teens prepared by Robert Blum, Clea McNeely, and Peggy Mann Rinehart of the Center for Adolescent Health and Development at the University of Minnesota, is available on the Web.

If you'd like to read the paper, Promoting School Connectedness: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, pick up a copy of the Journal of School Health, April 2002 (Vol. 72, No. 4).


This past July at its 32nd Annual Conference, the Association for Direct Instruction (ADI) inducted Randy Sprick into the ADI Hall of Fame. Congratulations, Randy!


We would like to thank all of you who came to the Principal's Leadership Institute and the Train the Trainer workshops this year! We enjoyed visiting with old friends and meeting new ones. Next summer, we will be meeting at the Benson from July 14-19. See you then!


Watch for the release of the new book, Coaching Classroom Management: A Toolkit for Administrators and Coaches by Randy Sprick, Jim Knight, Wendy Reineke, and Trisha McKale.


Randy Sprick's new book, Discipline in the Secondary Classroom is now available. Order online from Pacific Northwest Publishing.


Randy Sprick and Safe & Civil Schools consultants continue to provide presentations across the country. Some of these include open registration. Registration may be limited and/or may involve a fee. Contact information is provided for each on our website.



As fall approaches, the staff at Safe & Civil Schools wish you a productive and positive school year!

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