Friday, July 8, 2016

Book Study: You Can't Teach a Class You Can't Manage

We've all had those days. Days where there is no positivity left in your body when the day ends. You can barely hold in the tears. You tell your team this is your last day, yet they humor you because they know you'll be back tomorrow, dedicated to make the day a better one.

Yeah, those days. I discovered this book, You Can't Teach a Class You Can't Manage by Donna Whyte on one of those days. My partner handed me this book and said it was her saving grace on one of these days. And it became mine.

Over summer, I tend to read all the professional development books I can. Guided reading, math stations, reading strategies are all on the list...but I tend to leave out management books. Why? That's the part of my job that is hardest, shouldn't I be looking more into that?

So, for everyone who has had "one of those days," here are some big takeaways from the first third of Donna Whyte's book that {hopefully} you can use and make you consider your management before heading back to school. I'm going to talk about this book in three parts, and then about how it influenced my own plan for next year.

We spend so much time refining instruction- why not our discipline?
This really stuck out to me. I spend SO MUCH TIME assessing, differentiating, reflecting, reteaching when it comes to content. I do reflect and differentiate my management, but not nearly as much thought goes into it as instruction. I tend to tell myself "next year I'll try xyz." Why not now? I would NEVER keep teaching something that didn't work- why do I allow it when it comes to discipline?

Whyte suggests evaluating your standards for discipline and curriculum for teaching them. I tend to "forget" about teaching discipline after the fist few months of school, and I am going to do a better job of seeing discipline as a way to teach and refine life lessons rather than a punishment. I also need to look at what is working and what isn't, and make a plan to change it. 

Controlling kids is not the goal, teaching self-control is. 
I know on "those days" I've thought about not being able to control kid X. But... is that what we should focus on? No. I sure know that I don't want someone to control me. Our focus needs to be in guiding students (especially our littlest ones) to learning skills that lead to self-control. 

What kind of behavior, attitude and work do we want from our kids? Do I want them to blindly listen and go through motions to get on gold or go in the treasure box? No. Do I want them to yearn to be kind people, with a great work ethic? Yes. This has to be the goal, not control. I plan to build time to give my students the supports to fail and eventually succeed, and let them know that I see them trying and that success feels good. 

The first part of the book is setting up her cornerstones, and  I can't wait to get more into those. From reading her book, Donna Whyte has posed many questions and helped me focus lots of time towards figuring out what works and what doesn't, and how I will refine my discipline "curriculum" next year. 

What books have you read on management that are must- reads? I'd love to hear about them! 


  1. You are right we don't tend to read books on behavior management. I will put this one on my list. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for sharing about this book, I'll check it out! When you talk about teaching self control, I'm reminded of Responsive Classroom - this curriculum teaches about CARES - cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self control. Highly recommend anything that is from this line of curriculum. Our whole building uses it and the results are amazing - a positive, proactive management style!

    1. That's what I need, a more proactive approach. I have so many ideas in mind for next year. Thanks so much for suggesting this!

  3. Like Michelle, I suggest anything related to Responsive Classroom. I have been using it for the last three years and it is amazing!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion! I'm familiar with the "first Six weeks of School" but would love to learn more!