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Dr. Fred Jones's
Tools for Teaching

Positive Discipline Management:
Tips for Successful Implementation



In the previous three columns, we have described the perfect alignment between Tools for Teaching and PBIS. In a nutshell, Tools for Teaching describes an advanced generation of discipline management procedures that are both positive and extremely cost-effective. Rather than increasing the teachers workload with program management, they reduce the teachers workload due to their efficiency and their focus on prevention.

*Tools for Teaching Implements PBIS

Primary Prevention
Secondary Prevention
Tertiary Prevention
In this segment we will help you make the transition from my book, Tools for Teaching, to your classroom. Decades of teacher training have produced a clear understanding of how to succeed in implementation. This segment will serve as a guide to teachers, trainers, and administrators.


Effective professional development produces personal growth and lasting change. Yet, personal growth is challenging -- particularly when it involves changing old and familiar patterns of behavior. It requires continuing effort and support over time. When beginning a program of professional growth and change, it is helpful to view the process through the trainee's eyes.

  • Professional Growth is Intimate and Personal: Most people will not risk change unless someone they know and trust is already succeeding and will help them as they try to master new skills.
  • Change is Risk: You cannot trust some innovation that you have not yet mastered. Old and familiar ways of doing things are safe. The willingness to risk trying something new will rest largely upon a persons trust in the network of support that accompanies his or her attempts to change.
  • Change is Difficult: Learning any new skill requires effort. It happens neither quickly nor easily. Nor does it always go right the first time.
  • Change is Disruptive: Things usually get worse before they get better. As old ways of doing things are altered, there is predictable awkwardness and loss of both comfort and confidence.
  • Change Must Survive the Critical Period: If, with help from a support network, a colleague persists in using a new skill, integration and comfort will be achieved at a higher level of functioning. Without adequate support, however, that teacher might well attribute the loss of comfort to the new skill and conclude that, It doesn't work for me.
To put it simply, training is the easy part of effective professional development, even though it takes more time than we have traditionally given it. The hard part of professional development is follow-through. Follow-through requires organizational change to support personal change.


The principal is the key decision maker for training and follow-through at the school site. Tactical decisions that are made before training begins often determine its ultimate success or failure. Here are some key tactical decisions:

  • Principal Participation: The principal determines whether professional development will be on the front burner or the back burner. If professional development is not on the principal's front burner, it will not happen. Principals, therefore, must be advocates. Giving permission is not enough. They must provide time for training, protect it from being cross-scheduled, and participate so they are as knowledgeable as their teachers.
  • School Site Focus: Training is best done by a team of mentor quality teachers at each school site. Not only will they draw colleagues into training by word-of-mouth as they use the program in their classrooms, but they also will be close at hand to problem solve with trainees. If trainees have difficulty with a new procedure, they either get help quickly from a friend, or they are likely to dump the procedure. Consequently, school site training teams serve one of their most important functions during follow-through.
  • Build on Strength: The most willing and able teachers should be trained first. Often they become co-trainers, thereby expanding the school site training team. In addition, their success should be shared with the faculty, so more hesitant colleagues say, "Well, if it can help them, I guess it can help me too." Although well intentioned, the decision to train the most needy teachers first can reduce faculty buy-in by stigmatizing the program as remedial.
  • Make Training Voluntary: Changing habits is never easy. Teachers must want to change. They must focus on new ways of doing things every day, and that requires a high degree of motivation. Mandating that teachers participate usually backfires. It is better to create a critical mass of success with strong teachers, and then wait for colleagues to be drawn to the program. Occasionally, however, especially at a fairly small school site, the faculty as a whole might vote to do the program which sweeps nay sayers along with little resistance.
  • Start Slow, Go Slow: One of the hardest things for administrators and school board members to do once an effective program demonstrates its merit is to slow down. "Let's train everyone in the district" is usually a call to disaster with volunteerism being the first casualty. Successful training requires patience. Haste preempts the systematic process of training and team building that allows a program to gain strength as teachers achieve genuine mastery.
  • Train and Retrain: Our tradition in professional development is to train teachers in one program and then move on to the next program, never looking back. Yet, we know that skills are built slowly and incrementally. Teachers pass through predictable stages on the road to mastery, which might be characterized as: 1.) What is it? 2.) How does it work? and 3.) How do the pieces fit together? Genuine mastery requires that teachers be trained repeatedly.
  • Focus on Follow-Through: Think of successful professional development at a school site as being a 3-5 year process. Although some teachers will succeed beautifully from the beginning, most will need more time to internalize new skills, break old habits, and iron out wrinkles in classroom application. Build a process of growth and change, and let that process provide integration of new learning over time. Structure for that process is described below.


    In this age of cyberspace, a book can be much more than the pages between a cover. As soon as the manuscript for Tools for Teaching second edition was completed, we started to write a study guide that would allow teachers to conduct training of the highest quality at their school sites. The resulting Study Group Activity Guide is provided free at our Web site (

    The Study Group Activity Guide structures both training and follow-through. Initial training is organized into twelve 45-minute after school meetings during which teachers master the skills contained in Tools for Teaching. Each meeting includes:

    • reading assignments with focus questions
    • sharing and problem solving
    • performance checklists
    • skill building activities
    Thorough protocols are provided for each skill building exercise. Those protocols contain every prompt and clarifying remark used by me during workshops. In addition to the protocols, coaching skills are described in detail, so participants can help one another learn by doing in a safe and comfortable manner.

    During follow-through, the focus of the professional learning community (PLC) formed during training shifts from simple skill building to the adaptation of those skills to more complex classroom management situations. The Study Group Activity Guide provides detailed protocols to structure role-playing of current classroom problems, so participants feel safe. Finally, a Group Problem Solving Process helps participants solve unique classroom management dilemmas as they arise.

    The focus of the PLC evolves over time in a predictable fashion. During the first six months, the focus is on discipline management. But, after that becomes second nature, the focus shifts to instruction, as teachers attempt to implement Say, See, Do Teaching. Say, See, Do Teaching requires that learning be experiential and interactive, and collaborating on new ways of achieving that goal drives innovation and sharing. That focus on instruction can keep study groups vital for well over a decade given proper leadership.

    While study group meetings include sharing, the Web site also provides opportunities for teachers to share their ideas and experiences with colleagues worldwide. Sections of the Web site devoted to sharing include a Preferred Activity Bank, applications of Bell Work, tips for substitute teachers, a message board, and a college report page. We hope youll visit our Web site to learn more about training methods, teacher services and upcoming workshops.

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