Carrot or Stick?

September 29, 2006 1 min read

As back-to-school enthusiasm wanes, maintaining order in the classroom can be a challenge. But there’s more than one effective way to keep kids focused. We asked two veteran teachers with very different styles how they would handle the following scenario:

It’s the last day of school before a long weekend and, unfortunately, you have a lot to cover if you’re going to stay on schedule. The students are already in vacation mode, and 10 minutes into your lesson, you’ve lost them: They’re either staring out the window or having their own noisy conversations. What do you do?

“I have an animated pig that’s in my closet. It’s called Petunia Pig. She dances. She does the funky chicken. [My students] absolutely die for the pig to come out—even the boys. Usually I work a deal with them: ‘We’re going to do this for 10 minutes, and then we’ll do Petunia Pig.’ ”

Juli Weatherly, 3rd grade teacher at Great Bridge Intermediate School in Chesapeake, Virginia

“I don’t consider myself loud, but I’m firm. I’d look at them with no smile, and tell them I mean what I say and I say what I mean. I always talk about the future with my classes, even though they’re only 4th graders, and I tell them, ‘Either you’ll get this now or you’ll pay for this later.’ ”

Brenda Wilson, 4th grade teacher at W.R. James Sr. Elementary School in Willingboro, New Jersey

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A version of this article appeared in the October 01, 2006 edition of Teacher


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