Discipline Survival Guide for the Secondary Teacher – by Julia Thompson


  • It’s hard to motivate students, but it is easy to demotivate if the work is too difficult and you don’t make an effort to engage student interests. Use extrinsic motivation sparingly so that students value the learning for its own sake. Thompson gives some ideas about this but devotes much more time on how to build intrinsic motivation and curiosity. She also discusses the kinds of questions that can stimulate critical thinking. (e. g. Ask students to give and support an opinion.) She also deals with the benefits and techniques for inductive learning and service projects that appeal to the students’ sense of altruism. The final technique deals with enlarging the learning environment.

Some Final Ideas Gleaned From Many

  • If you make a mistake, admit it and be an example for how students should behave.
  • If you must detain a student, you will accomplish more if you detain one at a time.
  • View difficult students as students with challenges rather than problems or bad kids. They can tell if you care about them even if they behave badly.
  • Non verbal behavior on your part and moving to the misbehaving student can often redirect misbehaving students.
  • Don’t make a bad situation worse by making private information about a misbehaving student available to the class.
  • If a student is out of control send for help.
  • Above all, stay calm when a student is defiant.

Julia G. Thompson

  • Julia has taught English, reading, special education, math, and other subjects for over thirty years. She has worked with students of all abilities and currently teaches in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is the author of The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide and The First-Year Teacher’s Checklist and offers ongoing information at Juliagthompson.com. You can follow her on Twitter as @TeacherAdvice.
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