School of Hard Knocks: Getting Behavioral Help for Teachers in the Classroom

by Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor
School of Hard Knocks: Getting Behavioral Help for Teachers in the Classroom

Brandi Franks
Second Grade Teacher

When one of  Brandi Frank’s second grade students was expelled for punching another teacher in the stomach, Brandi was ready for his return to her classroom six weeks later. “I sat down in community circle in the morning and talked with the other students and explained that this boy, *Kyle, was coming back to the classroom. The number one thing I established was, ‘There’s no excuse for abuse.’”

"It’s very frustrating, because teachers want help so badly. You spend the day putting out fires, and unfortunately, scores go down because the kids are not learning everything they need to learn.”
—Brandi Franks Second Grade Teacher

Kyle’s acting out behavior was a well-known fact at Brandi’s school in southeast Texas. He often threw things, pushed other kids, broke their personal items and called them names. But Brandi turned things around. “I told my class, ‘I can’t abuse you and you can’t abuse me, period. And that goes for *Kyle, too.’”

What happened to change everything in the six weeks before Kyle’s return? Brandi had started using the Total Transformation Program at home with her own son, Noah, and had seen results within a couple of weeks, so she decided to adapt it to her classroom. “I thought, if this works with my child, why won’t it work with second graders?”

The fact is, many teachers report that they are not taught how to manage classroom behavior while in college; rather, their education focuses solely on academics and teaching methods.  That means when you start teaching, “They say, ‘Here’s the class, you take care of them, and the less we see them up front, the better,’” says Brandi. “ It’s very frustrating, because teachers want help so badly. We’re having to teach kids how to behave in class, and that takes a long time. You spend the day putting out fires, and unfortunately, scores go down because the kids are not learning everything they need to learn.”

Brandi said she was so desperate for help with her class that she “went to every workshop you can imagine, but I couldn’t find anything that worked,” until she got the Total Transformation for her son.

And when Kyle got back into her classroom that first day, Brandi was ready for him to act out. “He didn’t want to do math, and started with the mouthy behavior. I said, ‘This is what we’re doing,’ and  I got him started on the assignment. I told him, ‘I’ll be back in 5 minutes to check on you.’  Then I turned around and walked away from him instead of responding to his backtalk. He was left without an audience, and he realized I wasn’t going to get caught up in his web.”

By using methods from the program, Brandi succeeded in turning around Kyle’s behavior that year. He ended up passing her class, “and became a totally different kid,” says Brandi with a smile. “His mom started getting the happy phone calls instead of the ‘you have to come get him because he just hit someone’ calls.”

Other teachers at Brandi’s school started asking how she maintained order in her classroom. “They noticed that my kids were very well-behaved in the halls—even the substitute teachers thanked me,” Brandi laughs. “The assistant principal came to talk to me and asked me what I was doing differently. He’d noticed that Kyle’s twin brother, who had similar behavior issues and was in a different classroom, had not changed at all that year, and wanted to know what my ‘secret’ was. I told him it was the Total Transformation. It’s the only thing that works that I’ve used,” says Brandi.

Jan Moore
Jan Moore
Middle School Teacher
Jan Moore was also having problems with some students in her middle school art class in northern Utah. Although Jan enforces rules and consequences when her students don’t follow directions, she still has students who push the limits from time to time. Like Brandi, Jan also ordered The Total Transformation for help within her own family—in her case,  for her two grandsons.

“It was working well with my grandsons, so I decided to try it with students in my class,” Jan said. “Before I would ask them, ‘Why aren’t you in your seat?’ Now I don’t ask ‘Why’ questions anymore. Instead, I say, ‘What are you supposed to be doing right now?’ Or ‘What is my rule about talking when I’m talking?’ And my students tell me. I can walk over and say ‘Where should you be?’ and my students go right back to their seats."

Things turned around in Jan's class as well. "When I started using The Total Transformation in the classroom, it was kind of like a miracle,” says Jan. “I also like it because it helps me come up with phrases that solve the problems with my students almost immediately.”

Using the program has also changed the way Jan observes parents and their children interacting during parent-teacher conferences. “One mother actually said to her child, ‘I’ve been told you’re just like me, and I wasn’t a good child… and you’re not a good child.’” Jan was stunned. “I realized that there are so many ineffective ways of parenting. I wanted to tell that mom to get the Total Transformation.”

Not only is Jan seeing changes in the classroom, she’s  also seeing changes in her grandsons when they come over to her house. “Now they’re going, ‘Wow, we get it. Grandma is going to spend time playing with us, and if we want to continue, we have to behave.’” The last time they came to visit, Jan says she didn’t have to discipline either of them at all. “Before my grandsons left, the older one gave me a hug, and said, ‘Thank you Grandma, for letting me come to your house.’ It was great! It’s working and I’m grateful.”

*Not his real name.

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Elisabeth Wilkins is the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of one son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.


I'm a 6th grade teacher with a really difficult class this year. Thanks for this advice. It's good to know there's something out there that might help!

Comment By : Marjorie

I have noticed over the years and in different parts of the country that the "Love and Logic" program is fairly accessible to parents and teachers. I think the program is worth while and gives great perspective and structure for parents or anyone else new (or new again) to parenting or raising/teaching young children and teenagers. However, my son never fit into the parameters of "normal" and it was very frustrating to me to see other parents having success and yet I did not get the same results from my child from the same action employed. That is why I love the Total Transformation program so gives me the tools I need that go beyond "normal discipline" when those "normal" tactics are ineffective. It is such a relief to have these skills! Our lives have changed dramatically! I can feel for the teachers who have no training for controling classroom behavior and are up against behaviors that really stump the general populace! It is disruptive as can be, I'm sure, and prevents them from really being able to teach the subject matter they were really hired to teach. Unfortunately I don't think the parents are given empowering tools of child rearing and are as confounded as the teachers as to how to handle these situations. What I'm getting at is that the Total Transformation tools are so effective and build on the Love and Logic skills that teachers receive, if any, and even empower them further, that it would be so wonderful to give all teachers exposure to the Total Transformation program so they know where to turn when things go south with the usual disciplinary techniques. Then they can share it with the parents, fellow teachers, etc. It would empower teachers to "become the change they want to see" because sometimes parents are tapped out of ideas and methods and do not know about the program. So many teachers seem to feel like their hands are tied when it comes to disciplining a student in their classroom, especially when that student can push a lot of buttons and seemingly create chaos out of calm, but I think the TT program gives teachers workable tools so they can stay calm, instill discipline and order, retrain the chaotic element and thrive. Really, the program is even better than sliced bread!

Comment By : Single mom of ADD/ODD 10 year old

It works as a parent dealing with faculty who are disrespectful also. In the past I ignored cras remarks, verbal abuse from school admin. Raised by a family who were generaltional educators, I believed that the school is right. Now, it is not about right, it is about respect. I can bring inappropriate behavior to the staff's attention without being disrespectful or letting it go entirely. Thank James Lehman.

Comment By : CB

It's too bad there is no "Total Classroom Transformation" program. Teachers are the ones in the trenches. We could really use the help!

Comment By : dgwilson

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how to manage classroom behavior, classroom management, discipline, school behavior, acting out in class, academics, teaching, middle school, high school, students, parenting, child, teens

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