Classroom Management Failure # 1 – The Empty Threat Syndrome



If you've read any of my posts on classroom management, you know that I was not gifted natural when it came to managing student behaviors. I struggled right along with the worst of them! But, I was lucky enough to have received some well-timed classroom management training right near the beginning of my teaching career, which has made all the difference ever since.

I want to take a moment to highlight some of the classic classroom management failures that plague many teachers. Heck, I've been guilty of some of these as well. And it's usually the source of frustration for me, those moments when I failed as an effective classroom manager. I end up going home thinking over that situation over and over and over, regretting a split decision or a comment made that can not be taken back.

The classic class management failure I first want to speak of is the "Empty Threat Syndrome." If you set up a consequence for your student dependent on their behavior, you better follow through with your threat. If you tell that student that you're going to call that student's parents if their behavior does not improve, you better call that mom or dad or whomever the next time that student does not meet your class behavior expectations.

If you habitually threaten your students with some sort of consequence and you do not deliver on your promise, what are you teaching your students about you as a teacher? What are you saying about your word, your promises, as a teacher? You're teaching the students that as long as they misbehave, you will only threaten them with consequences rather than enabling consequences.

Is that what you're trying to communicate to the students? It seems like common sense, but in the thick of a stressful class management moment, if you do not have a solid classroom management plan, many teachers fall back on the "old standby" – empty threats.

This just highlights the need for all teachers to have a simple and effective class management plan. When you have a plan in place, it's easy to avoid getting into the "Empty Threat Syndrome." With a solid class management system, you no longer need to threaten. At most, you would need to remind students of expectations and consequences. But once you've taught these class behavior expectations and consequences, you no longer need to threaten.

All you do then is consistently implementing your behavior management system. You do have an effective classroom management system, right?



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