Monday, February 2, 2015

teach like a champion: warm/strict

My best friend sent me a great book - Teach Like a Champion. How I would have loved to have this resource my first few years of teaching! This book has tip after tip of strategies teachers can use to get a strong hold on their classroom management. I highly recommend this book to first year teachers!

One morning, my mentee and I were carpooling to work and she mentioned a strategy from the book: Warm/Strict. This really is a huge learning curve in your first few years - you want your students to like you, so you may be a little more lenient than you should be, but this technique talks about how you have to not only be warm (funny, caring, concerned, and nurturing) but also strict.

In my first few years, I always thought I was being so mean when I put expectations (boundaries) in place for my students. That, and I was also inconsistent, so they wouldn't always know my expectations because sometimes they were there and sometimes they weren't. (Looking back, this was kinda mean...even though it wasn't my intent!) It wasn't until a few years later that I realized consistency was key and that I had to be very consistent with my expectations. And that didn't make me mean, it made me strict.

Kids need boundaries. Kids need routines and high expectations. Kids also need to know that you love them and because of that, your expectations are mandatory.

Take for example my kiddo who I see each day. I get 15 minutes a day with him and so I really don't have much time to be waiting on him until he is ready to do what I'd like. We've been working on the silent e rule, and hard and soft c and g. One day last week he was just in his own little world, doing things on his time, and so we had to have a heart-to-heart.

I told him we had a lot of work to do, and that he had to get with it. He started in with an excuse - something about his sister - when I stopped him and told him, "Either way, we need to keep working on what we're doing here. (strict) I'm here because I want you to be the best reader you can be as soon as possible, (warm) and knowing about Silent e and hard and soft c and g will help you do that." He then countered with something about how it was a free country and that's when I lost it.

I can't exactly remember what I told him, but what I do remember is that even though I was upset with his choices that morning, it was all because I cared about him. I was being super strict with him because of the fact that I wanted what was best for him. During my spiel, a few tears fell, and then I asked him to go back to class.

I had every intention of leaving him a note on his desk that afternoon, but he went home early. The next morning, before we began, I asked him, "Do you understand why I was so upset with your choices yesterday? We have to work hard because we don't have much time together each day and what we're doing is important work. Are we good?" He said yes and on we went.

Warm/Strict is an important technique to remember. Kids thrive when expectations are consistent and clear, and even if they don't understand why we do what we do in the moment, I can guarantee that they will look back fondly on their time in a classroom where there are clear expectations and they know how much their teacher cares for them.

What do you think about Warm/Strict? What other techniques from Teach Like a Champion really speak to you? Leave a comment and let me know!

Have a great week!


  1. I love this book and I also wish that I had it early in my teaching career. I think that I use the "No Opt Out" strategy the most in my classroom! That one just resonated with me immediately when I read it. By the time students get to 5th grade, they're masters of getting out of things. They quit trying very early this year and they always offer an attempt now.

  2. I LOVE "Teach Like a Champion!" I agree with Myranda, I use "No Opt Out" a lot and it works great!

  3. OMG!!!! He has tried to use the "It's a free country!" on me too! I couldn't help but laugh when I read that!
    It's tough finding and maintaining that balance!

  4. I teach kindergarten and I've had kids tell me that they don't have to do it because they don't want to. It amazes me that they pick up on that so quickly! I like the warm/strict concept; I think I need to get this book!

    A Very Curious Class


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