A student who says they don't like art and who constantly disrupts could be "saying" any number of things that have nothing to do with art:

1. "It doesn't matter if you are mad at me or are laughing at me, I love to be the center of attention." 
....Find as many ways to give positive attention to the child as possible. Also, it will help to take away the child's audience: use a buddy room or let them sit in the hall with a written assignment until they decide to behave in your class. Attention seeking is the most common reason for upper elementary or middle school students to misbehave. 

2. "I am really, really bad at drawing/painting/etc. and I don't want anyone to know just how stupid I am at anything related to art." 

.... A student who is convinced they are bad at art can be dealt with in any number of ways. Give the class non-objective assignments (see below) or keep changing up the medium to find what the kid might excel in. Teach the students (all of them, not just this one student) the Growth Mindset (here are a few resources). The only difference between a master and a beginner is the number of times the master has failed. DO NOT allow the child to complain or say negative things. This habit is toxic and can infect the atmosphere fast! Rule Number One in my class is, "Be Respectful." That includes being respectful to yourself. No negative self-talk. 

F.A.I.L. =

3. "I like to complain and I will complain about anything and everything. The world sucks. You suck. Everyone sucks." 
.... Have this student practice positive thinking and speech patterns. Even better, have the entire class practice so the student isn't singled out. Again, DO NOT allow complaining. It is toxic. There is a chance this child needs to be referred to the counselor, but more often than not this kid is just suffering from a negative mindset. One magical activity to do (OFTEN) is to have students write an encouragement on a Post-It note and place it on a neighbor's artwork. Middle school students especially are desperate for encouragement!

4. "My home life is pure chaos and I don't understand how to handle anything right now. Everything is so confusing and I am furious about it!" 
....A heart to heart talk with this student will hopefully begin to uncover anything under the surface that the student needs help with. Consider referring this child to the counselor.

5. "My parents hate me; I am told every day what an awful/stupid/worthless/etc. person I am. There's no point in even trying to do right because everything I do is messed up anyways." 
....Refer this child to the counselor. Constantly seek to build this child up with encouragement, attention, or anything else you can do to help.

If you teach students from 4th - 9th grade and you are hearing a lot of complaining, remember that many kids this age are SUPER insecure about their skills relating to art. To boost their confidence, break your lessons down to a basic level with very simple objectives. What can they do that is easy while they are still meeting the goals for the class? 

If it is realism you are after, have the kids do a before-instruction drawing to compare the after-instruction drawing to. If they can see growth, you've won. 

One lesson that I continue to see benefit all my students is a non-objective drawing with markers. My goal was to get them to appreciate non-objective art/artists, to choose a style (geometric or organic), and to improve their craftsmanship. 

We also talked about how "line" can actually communicate in a work of art! Vertical lines can symbolize strength and dignity, diagonal or zig-zag lines carry a lot of energy and movement, while horizontal lines are very restful (but can be boring). In addition, zig-zag lines can mean anger or danger (they remind us of lightning) while curving lines sometimes symbolize happiness and joy. 

We compared and contrasted Picasso's "Weeping Woman" with Matisse' "Woman In a Purple Robe" to see how their use of line carried emotion! A few other artists we discussed were Kandinsky, Mondrian, Pollack, and Stella.

When the students were asked to draw with black line, I instructed them to choose a style and type of line that matched their own personalities. It was amazing to see the different pieces they created! I also asked them to use no more than three colors, repeating them throughout the design. 

The students had 100% success rate and their confidence in themselves as artists grew exponentially after this lesson.

article by Mrs. Anna Nichols



"Is this good enough?"
Every art teacher dreads this question.
What is the most diplomatic way to answer it? Consider possible motives behind the question:
1. Seeking approval....
You want to protect the child's sense of self: you understand that the child needs your acceptance. Any hint of your disapproval could mean damaging their self-esteem. Artwork = extension of self.... this is tricky! Oprah Winfrey says that she hears the exact same question at the end of every interview she's ever done: "Was that okay?" It is human nature to seek approval, no matter how old we are! One of the best ways to respond is to say, "What do YOU think? What is something you like about it? What is something you think needs more work?"
2. Apathy.....
The child just doesn't feel like working on the art any more. You want to teach the child to strive for excellence, to not ever be satisfied with mediocrity! How can you motivate children to work on improving their art without sending the unintended message that you don't like it, and by extension, that you don't like them? 99% of success is hard work - kids need to be taught how to work hard even when they don't feel like it. Sometimes, students have such a low opinion about their artistic ability that everything they create seems shoddy and they don't see the point of doing any more. Always look for something in the piece that they did well and complement that. Many times, kids have a hard time seeing the good and they need us to believe in them until they can believe in themselves.
3. Striving for excellence.....
The child really wants to know your opinion about how to make the piece better but doesn't know how to ask. They usually know whether or not they've tried their best, but they don't always know exactly what you expect from them. Ask yourself, "Were the lesson objectives clear enough so the children can see for themselves whether or not they succeeded?" Rubrics help with this; they spell out exactly what characteristics describe a mediocre work vs. an exceptional one. There are many kids who really do want to create the most excellent art they possibly can, and they respect your expertise! The ultimate goal is to teach students that the only opinion that really and truly matters is their own, and to teach them to constantly try to improve. There is also a time to be satisfied with the work you've done and to call it finished!
4. Attention seeking.....
Is this a ploy to get extra attention from the art teacher? Many students constantly seek attention, no matter if it is negative or positive. If asking the teacher's advice gets them extra attention, they will do it over and over! Saying to these students, "Ask 3 before me!" and encouraging them to get feedback from peers can help with the constant attention seeking. There is also nothing wrong with saying to the child, "I need to help everyone else, too. I've already spent a lot of time with you and I need to be fair."
5. A test....
Some kids want to know if you will indeed hold them to high standards or if you will let them slack off. At other times, if upper elementary or middle school kids know that this question irritates you, they will ask you just to see what happens next! Just smile, direct them to the rubric, and move on. 

For more information about motivating students at any age level, check out this article: Motivation.

"Is It Good Enough?" Is the Wrong Question, by Ralph Ammer, medium.com

article by Mrs. Anna Nichols


One of our assistant principals had this special ability to walk into the gym before school, raise his hand, and get 800+ middle school kids QUIET. No, I'm not kidding! How did he do it? Why do kids behave so much better for some people than others? It is a mystery. There is no classroom management author I've found who can truly explain this enigma. When you walk into one of these classrooms, the kids are quiet and on task and the teacher is ... doing .... what? No one knows. Even the teachers themselves have a hard time putting it into words. What are the "secrets" to commanding that magical attention, to creating order out of chaos?
........body language, mindset, character and self-discipline, energy, consistency, and with-it-ness.........

Nobody taught me about accountability in education training, and I have heard lots of other teachers state the same thing. Of course, discipline strategies are cultural and many times are used in highly negative ways - a lot of teachers use intimidation tactics to get kids to behave and we know this is a mistake. However, neglecting to hold kids accountable for their behavior is just as big a mistake. “When I let go of my authority ….., I am abdicating my responsibility to protect the environment in which the rest of the students live and learn - and thus their right to a quality education.” Doug Lemov, Teach Like a Champion
1. Non-verbal Expressions or Gestures
2. Verbal Correction or Warning 
3. Consequence
4. Parent Contact
5. Referral

When does a teacher need to use Command Presence? The space of time between observing disruptive behavior and the teacher's response is where Command Presence comes in handy. The first two discipline strategies a teacher uses in response to misbehavior, "non-verbal" and "quiet-verbal," are dependent on the ability to have command Presence. You are much more likely to handle small disruptions effectively if you mean business. If you are projecting an attitude of authority, you will be able to cut down misbehaviors simply by making eye contact with students, moving in close (using proximity), gesturing, or by quietly correcting behavior.

In all honesty, my own natural state is down in the "No Power" zone described in the chart below. I have had to work really hard to overcome my weaknesses and get to a place where students take me seriously! From day to day, I may find myself back down in that zone if I'm not careful. 





I have a confession to make.... I am terrible at classroom management! At least, that is how it feels sometimes.

There are certain things I am good at, like planning ahead and organization. I am also a highly trained educator with two degrees - one bachelor's degree in visual art with a concentration in ceramics and one master's degree in education. 

I really care about students and their success and I ALSO care deeply about teaching them to be creative people who appreciate visual art. 

However, my personality is just not suited to be a leader. 

I am an extreme introvert (INFJ according to Myers-Briggs). I also suffer from anxiety AND I've recently learned that I am what is known as an HSP; a highly sensitive person. I get overwhelmed easily and I pick up on other people's emotions like a sponge soaks up water. Around 20% of people are HSP's, but only 1% are INFJ's. I used to think there was something seriously wrong with me, but now I know I am just, well, really different. It makes me feel a little better that Martin Luther King Jr. is said to have also been an INFJ! 

Teachers need to be tough!

I am not even close. But, I am learning. I have a sneaking suspicion that we are all much tougher than we believe ourselves to be!

Teachers need to know how to command their students' attention; I hate attention of any kind. My "comfortable/safe place" is reading a book, alone in a cozy room with my dog by the fire. Whenever I am called upon to speak at end of year events, I turn into a giant ball of jello at even the thought of all those parents and teachers looking at me! I do it anyways, but it is pretty uncomfortable. 

Now, how did I find myself writing a blog about classroom management? I am literally the last person anyone would expect to become an expert on the subject! 

This whole project started simply because I saw a need and I wanted to help. 

That's it. I began to read everything I could possibly get my hands on about classroom management so that I could share information and build up other art teachers. 

I have had some unlikely successes in the process and I've learned a lot! It was through researching and applying strategies that I was able to establish order in some of the wildest situations at my last school. 

Information is power. 

That is what this blog is all about; empowering art teachers with the information needed to successfully manage their classrooms, thus enabling them to provide the best art education possible. We can't teach in the middle of chaos and students can't learn. 

You DO have the power to manage your students and have the classroom you've always wanted. I am not a powerful person at all; I have so many weaknesses it is laughable. 

However, if I can do it, anyone can do it. 

To be great at classroom management, you need to find a place of strength and stability within yourself. Since I started this project, I've used a picture of a tree to represent the idea of classroom management, where the trunk of the tree is the teacher's attitude. A tree trunk doesn't move! It remains in place no matter what. The branches overhead may sway a bit during a storm, but the tree trunk stays still. 

Every piece of advice I've ever read about classroom management doesn't mean a thing unless the teacher remains strong and resolute on the inside. 

Without the ability to maintain authority, all of the teacher's attempts to create order fly out the window. It is actually funny, honestly, the idea that teachers can maintain order by making sure there are routines and procedures and engaging lessons and lots of positive reinforcement. Sometimes I just want to slap these classroom management experts and say, "Have you EVER taught middle school?!" 

Now, the latest direction this project has taken is looking closely at the idea of "Command Presence." I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am the least likely person to embody this quality. I don't feel like a leader - sometimes I feel like an absolute mess!

Any time I have experienced ANY success in classroom management it has been because at some level I understood and was able to apply the concept of Command Presence (even if it was only for a short time.) 

Master teachers do this unconsciously - many are so secure with themselves as an authority figure that having Command Presence is effortless. When Dr. Fred Jones began to unravel this mystery 30 years ago, he found that the master teachers were unable to describe what they were doing. All they could say was, "You better mean business!" 

In all honesty, my own natural state is down in the "No Power" zone described in the chart below. I have had to work really hard to overcome my weaknesses and get to a place where students take me seriously! From day to day, I may find myself back down in that zone if I'm not careful. 
I believe that every one of us shifts from mode to mode depending on our energy level and the time we invest in ourselves personally and professionally. 

It takes a lot of energy to be in Influence Mode or in Command Presence Mode, and you simply can't get there unless you are taking care of yourself! 

Influence Mode is where every teacher strives to be, in that place of inspirational, charismatic power. Command Presence Mode is where we need to be on occasion when dealing with student behaviors; it is our responsibility to protect the kids and their right to learn. This enigma is what I have been trying to understand for the last few months - I believe that to explain Command Presence is to explain the core of having authority

When you begin to feel like things are swirling out of control and the emotions of helplessness start to sneak in, remember that you DO have the power to overcome. There are lots of things you can still do to calm yourself and the kids down, to motivate them to behave and to achieve. 

My former supervisor who was there to mentor me for the first few years I taught middle school says that I was terrific at classroom management back then - I'm glad she saw my successes because I sure didn't feel much confidence in what I was doing! She says that I commanded respect and that the kids were always "under control" whenever she would stop by for a visit. This still surprises me when I think about it because in my memory, I was always fighting to keep myself under control. It was a battle to focus my energy on addressing behaviors without getting angry, annoyed, or discouraged! 

This year, my former principal asked me to help out a couple of new teachers who were struggling with classroom management. Now, as bad as I am at this, I must have learned something! 

Knowledge is power! 

This time of year, it is easy to fall into the trap of being pushed around by student behavior. They are tired, we are tired, and they are DETERMINED to have fun regardless of the teacher's expectations for hard work and learning. 

You can do this! Where do you find your strength and energy? For me, it is having time alone to gather my thoughts and re-energize. I am truly blessed to have a husband who understands that! My husband and son are both extroverts, but they love me and will let me have my seclusion! 

Get lots of rest; refresh your mind, body and spirit before you get back in the classroom this week. 

Having Command Presence starts with having the energy necessary to be the one in authority. 

article by Mrs. Anna Nichols

Note: There is so much to write about in relation to this concept that I actually got overwhelmed with it over the last few weeks! I intended for this article, #4 in the series, to be about the mindset of Command Presence. Instead, I thought it might be better to explain where I am coming from on a personal level, first. Our next article will feature stories from teachers who CAN actually explain their method to capture Command Presence. 



I don't know anyone who got explicit training in their teacher education programs in enforcing consequences, in knowing HOW to show kids that you truly do mean business. Most of us just spend a year or two as new teachers, floundering in the arena of discipline and struggling to find what works.

I believe that studying the phenomenon known as "Command Presence" will help new and struggling teachers learn to have authentic, compassionate authority in their classrooms! 
Teaching is the only performance profession where we are sent out to perform without getting in a lot of practice, first. Lawyers, dancers, actors, and musicians are all required to practice their performance skills before ever going out on "stage." Teachers need practice too.  

One thing that changed my life as a middle school art teacher years ago was learning about the body language of a leader; the "Power Stance." Since then, I've also learned that the most powerful reinforcer in the classroom is the teacher's attention. Holding disruptive students accountable while simultaneously FOCUSING on good behavior will work wonders. I've seen this happen again and again in my classroom. Where is my attention? Am I thinking about the bad behavior or the good behavior? The teacher's attitude is the invisible pillar of classroom management.

This article is the third in our series about "Command Presence;" we will attempt to provide a definition, reasons that it is important, non-examples, and explain its role, "Teacher as Protector," in the classroom. Next week we will discuss the Command Presence mindset in depth.

What is Command Presence? Usually this phenomenon is associated with law enforcement or the military; these men and women are trained to project authority, using their body language and tone of voice to gain compliance. Master teachers also know how to use authority. Having Command Presence means fulfilling the teacher's role of protector... are you willing to do what it takes to protect your students and their right to the best education possible?

What works with some students will not with others. Many kids will respond immediately to a teacher who "means business," and will settle down just because they were told to. Others need a reason to settle down.... why should they? Kids who see that a teacher will consistently and kindly hold them accountable, time after time, eventually WILL settle down. Teach them that you love them too much to allow them to behave badly. Holding kids accountable, using discipline in the form of consequences, is one way of loving them. You are there to protect them and their right to learn.

My dad retired a few years ago from serving as a civil service employee for the "Troops To Teachers Program" at the navy base in Pensacola. He tells stories of school administrators being amazed at the powerful influence a former military person was able to command in the classroom! How did they do it? 

Here is a definition of Command Presence from Westside Toastmasters: "Command Presence is an elusive quality, but you know it when you see it. Command Presence takes place when you walk into a room, office, or any situation and you realize that there is someone who is in charge, even when he or she is not formally in charge. Command Presence is communicated both verbally and nonverbally." Thank you to high school art teacher Pete Bothwell for providing this link! 

Apparently, Command Presence as it relates to the military involves ethics, professionalism, pride, and self-discipline: "Soldiers will always choose a leader to follow and that leader will either be good or bad. A leader's ability to maintain a strong sense of military bearing, though not always an easy task will have an immeasurable impact on Soldiers. A strong military bearing in a leader will instill pride in Soldiers. A strong military bearing among leaders will create a sense in the Soldiers that their leader is technically and tactically proficient and a true professional leader, a leader whom they can trust, respect and place their confidence in, a leader who will take care of them. They will want to follow and be like that leader." Military Bearing - Projecting Confidence and Command Presence, by Command Sgt. Maj. Naamon Grimmett, Army University Press

In law enforcement, Command Presence involves projecting strength, self-discipline, good posture, confident body language, professionalism, ethics, and close observation of people at all times: "The cop who looks and acts weak—the meekest of the herd—often finds himself the target of all sorts of grief, from verbal abuse all the way to physical assault..... Command presence is all about being at the top of the game. Taking a few minutes to be sure your shoes, badge, and brass are polished goes a long way toward projecting a positive image." Cops and Command Presence: What's Up With That Look?, Lee Lofland, veteran police investigator 

Why should a teacher even study command presence?

It's about leverage. Weight. Powerful influence. Trust. Respect.

It is ALSO about maintaining strong relationships.

Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees & Wannabes as well as Masterminds & Wingmen, outlines the importance of authority to maintaining relationships in this excerpt from the September 20, 2013 Masterminds and Wingmen, Family Action Network presentation. She says that many times women will back down for fear of damaging relationships, that we don't "hold our own" when enforcing the rules. She also states that this is a sure fire way to create distance in our relationships with our children due to lack of respect.

How can you increase your power and "hold your own" when enforcing consequences?

What is the secret?

First, let's take a look at what command presence in the classroom is NOT:

Henry Rollins discusses the use of Command Presence as it relates to law enforcement in this funny YouTube video. Mr. Rollins demonstrates exactly why Command Presence is not usually associated with teaching; this form of intimidation is the OPPOSITE of being influential and relational. 

The following characteristics exemplify "Intimidation Mode," which is NOT Command Presence as it should be used in the classroom: 
1. Using authority to intimidate students into compliance
2. Yelling out of frustration or anger (HOWEVER, raising your voice when student safety is a concern is acceptable)
3. Using any other fear tactics to force students to comply
4. Failing to preserve the dignity of students; being disrespectful through the use of name-calling or otherwise degrading a student. (I have seen successful examples of teachers playfully using nick-names or using humor when name-calling in a friendly banter sort of way. I would be very careful with this; it is more appropriate with older students as they tend to understand irony and sarcasm.)
5. Domineering and authoritarian

This YouTube video demonstrates several more "Non-Examples" and below is a comparision of Command Presence with Intimidation Mode:

When does a teacher need to use Command Presence? The space of time between observing disruptive behavior and the teacher's response is where Command Presence comes in handy. The first two discipline strategies a teacher uses in response to misbehavior; "nonverbal" and "quiet-verbal," are dependent on the ability to have Command Presence. 

You are much more likely to handle small disruptions effectively if you mean business. If you are projecting an attitude of authority, you will be able to cut down misbehaviors simply by making eye contact with students, moving in close (using proximity), gesturing, or by quietly correcting behavior.

Below are a couple of good examples of "nonverbal" and "quiet verbal" interventions from the Teach Like a Champion organization. In these video clips, we see a variety of teachers who know how to project confidence and authority while being respectful of students! Most of the time in these clips, we are witnessing "Influence Mode" (to be explained more in depth in our next articles) interspersed with glimpses of Command Presence. The teachers are moving more energetically, not as slowly as would be necessary when dealing with more severe misbehavior. What these teachers are doing are "nipping in the bud" disruptive or off task behaviors. These small things, where a novice teacher would either ignore them or not even see them, are what WILL snowball into much bigger things later on down the line. 

I believe this list of descriptors could certainly fit these teachers: 
.......powerful servant leader, role as protector, dominant (not “nice”), authoritative, unemotional and calm, in complete control of self, has high energy, altruistic, self disciplined, self assured, comfortable with power, confident, relaxed, unapologetic, authentic, assertive, direct, sure, determined, decisive, respected, internal steeliness, selfless, respectful, efficient, professional, uses power and energy to help others, clear/concise communicator, composed, serious, speaks with lowered voice.....


Family psychologist Dr. John Rosemond points out that the actual discipline strategy we use is not nearly as important as our mindset:

"In dealing with a discipline problem, more important than what you do is the act of doing. For every specific problem there are myriad effective solutions. It doesn't matter which one you select - you can even invent a new one - because for any and all discipline problems the real solution has nothing to do with technique or method. It's called commitment. It's the sense of purpose, the determination, the resolve you invest in the method of your choice (or invention). Commitment is the backbone of discipline." Dr. John Rosemond, family psychologist, author, discipline expert, speaker

.....next week we will take a closer look at the mindset of Command Presence. Stay tuned!

Editor's note: Many thanks to high school art teacher Pete Bothwell for sharing this term with me: I had never heard of Command Presence before starting this research project into that mysterious Enigma of profound influence... Pete mentioned that, "It’s called command presence. It’s about determining where the eye of the hurricane is, and knowing how to read your crowd." He further provided the definition from Westside ToastmastersThanks, Pete!

Article by Mrs. Anna Nichols



Clint Eastwood as the Man With No Name in "Fistful of Dollars," 1965
photo source: Wikimedia Commons
“When I let go of my authority ….., I am abdicating my responsibility to protect the environment in which the rest of the students live and learn - and thus their right to a quality education.” Doug Lemov, Teach Like a Champion

This article is about discipline and the teacher's role of "protector." Are you willing to do what it takes to protect your students and their right to the best art education possible? 

In all honesty, when I was a new teacher I really needed someone to make the invisible visible - to help me with specific ways to hold kids accountable with consequences. Like, what do you DO when the kid refuses to do what you ask? Really? I had no idea! 

Where can you go to learn about effective, compassionate, and fair discipline strategies? How do you hold kids accountable without ruining relationships and making the classroom feel like a boot camp? Unfortunately, the idea most of us associate with "discipline" has a lot to do with punitive strategies and threats... "You better straighten up OR ELSE!"

Recently, I was called in to help a first year teacher at a local middle school. This teacher was experiencing some classroom management problems, so I observed one of the classes and then sat down to talk a few days later. 

Whenever I try to help a teacher solve problems, I think about the four main areas of classroom management; Discipline, Instruction, Motivation, and Teacher Attitude. What strategies can I suggest within these areas that will pack the most "punch" for this unique situation? What can the teacher do a little bit differently that will help their students achieve more? 

Classroom management is about creating an environment that maximizes student achievement - this is the end goal, every time.

Well, after hearing this teacher out and asking a few questions, I was very surprised that the biggest problem in the classroom dynamic seemed to be a simple lack of follow through in discipline. I was shocked - usually classroom management issues stem from inconsistency, disorganization, a lack of teacher confidence, or even a negative attitude. This teacher had a great attitude, was calm and caring, and had clear, understandable lessons. 

Why was discipline such a problem? The reason was that holding kids accountable carried a ton of anxiety for this particular teacher. What if a child got hurt? What if the teacher called a parent and then the child got a beating at home later that day? Apparently, the very idea of giving any type of consequence was really scary to this first year teacher! 

Now, nobody taught me about accountability in education training, and I have heard lots of other teachers state the same thing. Of course, discipline strategies are cultural and many times are used in highly negative ways - a lot of teachers use intimidation tactics to get kids to behave and we know this is a mistake. 

However, neglecting to hold kids accountable for their behavior is just as big a mistake. Michael Linsin demonstrates this truth: I Stopped Holding Students Accountable and Here Is What Happened.

There is a balance we all seek; to be taken seriously and respected but at the same time to be likable and maintain the trust of our students. We want them to know that everything we do is for THEM; we truly do have their best interests at heart. How do we get the kids to take us seriously... how do we communicate to them that we really do "mean business?"

The answer is leverage - the words we use need to have weight behind them. Otherwise they are just "hot air!" 

Having a discipline plan is one aspect of that leverage, that weight - it is like a ship's ballast. This is extra weight at the bottom of the ship that acts as a stabilizer when the wind and waves try to push it around. The ship will not capsize if there is a counter-weight in the form of a ballast! Many years ago, ships used large rocks as a ballast. Nowadays, there is a complex system of water pumps and tanks in the bottom of the ship. This is adjustable, and can be changed according to the movement of the water. 

The classroom discipline plan should also be adjustable; what works with some students will not with others. Many kids will respond immediately to a teacher who "means business," and will settle down just because they were told to. Others need a reason to settle down.... why should they? Having a plan of action decided ahead of time helps with this. Kids who see that a teacher will consistently and kindly hold them accountable, time after time, eventually WILL settle down. Teach them that you love them too much to allow them to behave badly. Holding kids accountable, using discipline in the form of consequences, is one way of loving them. You are there to protect them and their right to learn.

One final note before getting into specific discipline strategies: use as many proactive POSITIVE strategies from the beginning as you can. Dr. Fred Jones says to do anything and everything you can do to avoid using this "backup system!" For example, teach your classroom rules and procedures from day one. Get students to practice little things like entering the classroom calmly and quietly! Also, make sure you are constantly working to earn your students' trust by treating them with respect and compassion at all times. In addition, it doesn't hurt to have some kind of system in place for rewards! Finally, make sure you are offering engaging lessons that are both fun and challenging.  

1. Non-verbal Expressions or Gestures
2. Verbal Correction or Warning 
3. Consequence
4. Parent Contact
5. Referral

Here is a step by step outline of strategies you could follow the next time one of the students crosses that line (after you have been absolutely clear about your expectations and you are consciously looking for positive behavior). This guide is for normal, everyday classroom disruptions and should not be used if the behavior is severe. If this is the case, ask for help

Step One: 
Non-Verbal Expressions or Gestures 
 Give the student your "Teacher Look" then use "Teacher Proximity" if the student doesn't respond. This YouTube video illustrates one way to give the "Teacher Look:" 
Many times just going over to stand beside kids who are starting to get off-task will serve to deter the misbehavior with no formal warning being necessary. You can also "Camp Out" beside the student. Stand there as long as it takes for the student to get back on task! Don't stop your lesson to deal with disruptions unless they are so severe you cannot teach. Most disruptions can and should be handled non-verbally, or so quickly that the flow of the lesson is not interrupted. Think about Clint Eastwood's famous glare in those old spaghetti westerns - he could make those bad guys squirm just by looking at them!

screenshot of the famous glare in "Fistful of Dollars," 1965

Dr. Fred Jones, author of Tools For Teaching, has a pretty good step by step strategy for the body language of "meaning business." It involves a slow, regal turn, maintaining eye contact with the misbehaving student, and walking over to stand in that student's space. Check it out in this YouTube video: 

Here is a screen shot of an online poll I ran last October. At the top of the list is the "Teacher Look!" 
Art Teachers Facebook Group, October 23, 2018

Step Two:
Verbal Correction or Warning 
It is preferred that a correction or warning be given quietly and privately, but that is not always possible. It is necessary to communicate to the student that s/he is about to earn a consequence. Michael Linsin (author of Dream Class) refers to this as a "courtesy" to the student. A great strategy from Doug Lemov's Teach Like a Champion is to say, "I need two people....," or, "I have Margaret and Olivia, but not Tim and Braden..." 
Teach Like a Champion: 100%

Another way to provide a warning without stopping the flow of instruction is to write names on the board or on a Post-It note/clipboard. When students know you are documenting behavior, they will magically fall in line! Follow up with something positive; acknowledge the kids who are doing right! Then, as soon as possible after the misbehaving student starts to behave, acknowledge that as well. Thank them. Note: I do not think warnings are always effective, especially with middle school students. Sometimes, skipping the warning is necessary with repeat offenders or with defiant, argumentative students. (Doug Lemov, author of Teach Like a Champion, does not recommend giving warnings at all.)

Step Three 
Below is a list of possible consequences for students who continue to act up past the initial warning... the best consequences are designed to TEACH the child appropriate behavior and to get the child to THINK about his/her actions. Michael Linsin of smartclassroommanagement.com is famous for saying, "Less talk, more action!" when it comes to consequences. Many teachers make the mistake of lecturing to students, ineffectively fussing at them instead of giving them an effective consequence. Don't talk too much! 90% of my  middle school students who got in trouble in my class never needed to go past Step 3. The vast majority of the other 10% were effectively handled via a parent contact. The last 1 or 2% of students who could not be reached in any other way eventually came to their senses (given lots of time) either because they liked me and my class and knew I wouldn't put up with their nonsense, or they couldn't be reached. You will have a few that seem to be unreachable - you never know. These might be the kids who visit you in 10 years and thank you for being the best teacher they ever had! 
    • Revoke Privileges: if they are talking and playing instead of working, they have to sit in assigned seats. Or, if students are playing around with art supplies instead of using them appropriately, they don't get to use them for a day or two. They can read and write about the medium instead. 
    • Silent Art or Silent Focus Time in case of loud or off task students. 
    • Relocation/change seats: Kids hate to have to get up and move their seat, especially if they have to sit all by themselves. This can be effective for any grade level, even high school. I have even had 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students sit with me at the teacher table in the lunch room because they could not behave after being warned. It worked! It gets them out of their comfort zone and puts them on the spot a bit. 
    • Time-out or isolation table: Separate the child from the group for a short time. For elementary students, the time-out lasts as many minutes as their age (five minutes for kindergarten, six minutes for first grade, etc.). For middle school students, let them sit at a separate table from the group or even right in front of the door in the hallway. Remove their audience! 
    • Heart to heart talk: For older students, have a conversation in the hallway after class. Try to figure out what is going on with the child. Don't judge, just listen. This is a mild consequence for the student (who wants to stand there talking to the teacher when you could be socializing in front of the lockers?) and is an opportunity for the teacher to connect OR to give a private, formal warning if the behavior continues. 
    • Do-It-Over; if a kid throws wadded paper across the room toward the trash can, the child must do it again (repeatedly 2 or 3 times if necessary) in the right way. This is a handy strategy for such things as throwing a pencil to a friend, boisterous or somewhat rude behavior, etc. Practice, practice, practice.
    • Student must leave last (middle school or high school) due to failure to clean up or other problem... this is an effective deterrent for older students because they are highly motivated to hang out with their friends between classes! 
    • Fix or repair the problem via the natural consequence (or apologize/write a letter of apology) Examples: a student who throws objects (food/trash/etc.) in the lunch room stays to help clean up the mess or even the entire lunch room. 
    • Broken Record: If the student talks back or argues, the teacher repeats the initial command or just looks at the student. This is called the "Broken Record" strategy from Dr. Fred Jones. The teacher does not engage in an argument. 
    • Think Sheet for upper elementary/middle school or Extra work for high school (double a homework assignment, assign a one page research paper about an author/artist/etc.)
    • Essay about etiquette (for middle or high school)... "Formal paper on the procedures and etiquette for working in an art community, covering everything from behavior, to care of materials, clean up, interactions, etc. I assign my students supplies like brush sets, pencil kits, etc. If they do not return them in usable condition, they are fined. Big improvement in the use and care of supplies since I started." Rosie Venezia Singalewitch, high school art teacher
    • Research the cost of art supplies and create a class budget (middle or high school): "Last year I had my students log onto art supply stores and create orders for a class of 25 students. I assigned them different classes. (drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, printmaking, crafts, basic art supplies) It wasn't as a punishment, but they were all amazed at how expensive everything was. They really got into it." Beth Hartley Borelli, high school art teacher
    • Discipline essay  for upper elementary or middle school - write an essay about comparing/contrasting respectful, responsible student behaviors with disrespectful and irresponsible behaviors. What does a respectful student do and say?
    • Big Gun: (6th-8th) Copy a discipline essay about respect and require a parent signature - I have a lengthy discipline assignment that I get out for kids who repeatedly show they will not behave in my class (I consider this one the "big gun"). 
    • Buddy Room: send the student to another teacher's room to finish his/her work if s/he has successively broken rules throughout class. Dr. Fred Jones says this is even more effective if the other classroom is several grades above or below the offending student's. If you are sending students to a Buddy Room for their behavior, a Parent Contact is most definitely warranted. 
    • Ignore Misbehavior: (last resort!) If all of your attempts to correct behavior have fallen flat and you suspect that student antics are attention seeking, try putting all these kids together at a table and ignoring them. Eventually, they will seek to gain your positive attention instead of your negative attention and begin to behave. Here is a story from a former colleague of mine who tried this. She had written students up, called parents, separated them, and finally just put them all at the same table and ignored them for a few days. It worked. 
*Document it when students fail to heed corrections or warnings - this is absolutely necessary information to share with counselors, parents, or administrators who are trying to intervene on behalf of the child. This can be a formal "write-up" or just a note in the grade book. Document, document, document!*

Step Four 
Parent Contact 
Contact parents via a note, email, or phone call if students are repeat offenders. A powerful deterrent for misbehavior is to call parents DURING class or right at the end of a class and have the child tell mom or dad what s/he has been up to in your class. The first time I did this, I warned the kid ahead of time that if his behavior continued I would stop the lesson and call his mother. I did, the next day, and he literally cried. He never acted up in my class again.) BTW, if your first parent contact is a positive one, they are MUCH more likely to want to support you when their kid gets in trouble. Even when the kid is in trouble, phrase your communication in as positive a manner as possible so the parent knows you genuinely like the child and are not simply trying to make their lives miserable! 

Step Five 
After your school's required number of parent contacts (two?) then the child needs to be referred to administration. If you have done everything in your power to help the student behave, and there are still many problems due to this child's lack of discipline, ask for help! 

Fistful of Dollars, 1965

Clint Eastwood goes through all these steps: "Nonverbal Communication/Warning/Consequence" after being bullied by the bad guys: 
"I wanted to talk to you about my mule - he's feeling real bad. You see he got all riled up when you went and fired those shots at his feet. You see, I understand you men were just playin' around, but the mule, he just doesn't get it! Of course, if you were to all apologize...."

The Man With No Name stays calm, relaxed, speaks softly, communicates in a respectful manner and is very friendly (at first). However, he means what he says and has every intention of following through with power. He knows exactly who he is and that he will not allow these men to continue their intimidation tactics and bullying in the town. This is a wonderful example of "command presence." 

I used to think that disciplining students was equivalent to being harsh and intimidating and loud. My own middle school teachers in the mid 1980's yelled a lot and kicked trash cans - one social studies teacher used to throw his whistle at students on a daily basis and even once picked up a desk and threw it! None of these teachers were fired; they were all allowed to treat students harshly. 

Nowadays, teachers are told to be nice: be respectful, have good relationships, engaging lessons, etc., and if we do this then our discipline problems will disappear. 

I know this is simply not true. It takes a balance of discipline, motivation, great instruction, and a strong attitude of leadership for discipline problems to decrease. You have to be tough. You have to be firm. You have to mean business. Sometimes, you even need to channel a bit of Clint Eastwood. 

Our next articles will continue focusing on the teacher's role as protector, specifically the phenomenon known as "command presence." Stay tuned! 

From: Teach Like a Champion, by Doug Lemov (Ch. 6, Setting and Maintaining High Behavioral Expectations): (bold, italics, underlining mine).
     You should "....distinguish between incompetence and defiance by making your commands specific enough that they can't be deliberately misinterpreted and helpful enough that they explain away any gray areas. However, it's worth considering a bit more the capacity to distinguish between incompetence and defiance. If I ask John to pay attention or sit up or get on task and he doesn't, knowing whether he will not or cannot matters deeply. .....If the issue is incompetence, my obligation is to teach John. If I punish him for not complying when he is unable to do so, the consequence will seem unjust: I will punish him for what he doesn't understand or can't do. This will erode my relationship with John and teach him that consequences are disconnected from his actions......Psychological studies suggest that learned helplessness - the process of giving up because you believe your own choices and actions are irrelevant - generally results from a perception that consequences are random.
       But if John will not do what I ask, the issue is defiance, and my obligation is to provide a consequence. Unless I act clearly and decisively in the face of a challenge to my authority, John will establish a precedent of impunity. He and his classmates will now know that John, and arguably anyone else who's willing to, can successfully challenge me for the rest of the year. When I let go of my authority in this way, I am abdicating my responsibility to protect the environment in which the rest of the students live and learn - and thus their right to a quality education. If I respond to defiance with teaching, I am just as bad off as if I respond to incompetence with punishment. "

article by Mrs. Anna Nichols