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Pamela Whyte Releases New Book to Improve Classroom Management and Engagement

Posted on October 8th, 2014 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Author takes years of educational experience into account for helpful new handbook

Kenosha, WI. – Sit-Down vs. Drive-Through Classroom Management and Engagement: The Handbook, a brand new book by Pamela Whyte, is now available for purchase on and

The book was written by Whyte to be the ultimate resource for teachers that are looking for new, effective ways to increase student achievement, build rapport and strengthen the overall culture at their school. Whyte developed the strategies in the book based on 20 years of experience in the educational world and offers a new, outside-the-box perspective for teachers of all age levels.

“I’m extremely excited to be able to reach out and help teachers across the nation with this book,” said Whyte. “Throughout my career I’ve worked with so many amazing educators and even the best teachers continue to need support with classroom management and engagement. This book will help them breathe life into their classrooms and their profession and truly change the lives of students.”

The book contains a variety of quizzes, self-reflection exercises and a place to record a brand new plan of action. The book takes a straight-to-the-point approach, offering simple and practical advice for classroom management that any teacher will be able to appreciate.

It is a particularly beneficial book for finding new ways to analyze the behaviors of students. Its methods enable teachers to look at behavioral problems in a completely new and preventative way so that they can restore order to the classroom and create a better learning environment for all students.

“This book has something for every teacher,” Whyte says. “No matter what age or subject you teach, you’ll be able to pick up this book, page through it and come away with strategies that you can put to use in your classroom. The result is a better learning experience for children and respect for teachers.”

Pamela Whyte, M.Ed., was a classroom teacher for more than nine years, as well as a building administrator for 13 years. With experience educating struggling and disengaged students, Pamela understands how to truly engage students and increase achievement. The staff and students at one school were state award winners, raising test scores for at-risk students. Pamela is an educator, presenter, consultant, and co-author of Behavioral Strategies That Work (JulianJohn Publishing, 2013).


The Three Secrets to Starting the School Year!

Posted on August 7th, 2014 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Thank you for joining us again, this week!  It is a good sign that you are so connected to helping disengaged students that you continue to read this blog even during the summer!  These tips will be essential to engagement from day one of the school year.

Welcome Back Hype: 

There will be many students who have been struggling throughout the summer.  Some students may be struggling with money issues, abuse, boredom, sibling rivalry, unstructured time, violence and friend conflict.  Subconsciously (or consciously), students are yearning to come back to school, come back to time schedules, lunch at a certain time, adults who ensure safety, people who like them and their own space even if it is a desk or a locker.  Children believe everything that went wrong last year will not happen this year.  They start the year with high hopes and big dreams of getting good grades and not having behavioral issues.  They want, so badly, to do well and change the wrongs they have made.  The exception to this are students who have given-up or feel helpless.  We can help them all!

We have a decision to make, will we focus on getting school started and laying down the rules?  OR will we focus on the impact those first few days will have on our disengaged students?  Let’s pick the later, if we compare it to going to a friend’s house for vacation think of it this way.  How do we feel when our friend gives us a tour of their house, shows us where all the necessities are for our visit, maybe has a small gift in our room and prepares our favorite meal for dinner?   We feel invited, welcomed and we want to return.

Here is how that would look in a school:

Read It

Signs “Welcome Back”, “We Missed You!”, “Excited!”, “2014-2015 Is A Great Year!” “Dream Big, Try Hard!”  Desk and Locker signs with the students name and the school motto listed in bright colors.

See It

Back to school assembly, create excitement around learning.  This assembly can outline the schools goals for the year, invite students to upcoming events and create a sense of belonging.

Hear It

Smiles and greetings – Each staff member makes a concerted effort to smile throughout the day, a smile is very powerful.  Students perceive a smile as a message “I like you” and a flat face with “You do not matter.”  Include a greeting with the smile such as “Welcome Back!” of “It’s great to see you” or “This is going to be an exciting year!”

Now, the disengaged student is feeling accepted, loved and most importantly, hopeful!

Next week, “Reaching out to disengaged students prior to the first day of school.”  Please, email me what you do and I will include them in next week’s newsletter.

Here’s to a great year!!!


What is Wrong With You???

Posted on May 23rd, 2014 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Just Ask Them!

Do you always feel valued and important in your job?  In your relationships with a significant other and friends?  Does it seem like you are standing with your arms waving over your head and no one seems to notice?

There are students sitting in front of you right now that feel that same way, and maybe even about you.  Do you have any students who do this:

  • Yell out when they are angry
  • Walk out of the classroom
  • Hit other students
  • Bully
  • Refuse to work
  • Work at a level below their ability

Try this…

  1. Talk to the student privately
  2. Smile at them and sit a little to the side of them (this is not an authoritative stance)
  3. Tell them what you have noticed
  4. Ask them what you can do to help
  5. Listen, Listen, (Don’t talk too much)
  6. If no response try to prompt them
  7. Listen and be helpful but don’t be authoritative and solve it for them.
  8. Focus on their ability to solve it and believe in their effort.

Example: (Contains only the teacher’s words)

Hi Dan, thanks for coming in today (sit down next to him but angle out a little.)  I’ve noticed that you seem to have conflicts with some of the girls in the class.  Is there anything I can do to help?  So, they are always just messing with you?  Do you do anything that upsets them?  Sometimes, hmmmm.  So, what do you think might help in our class?  Well, I can’t remove them Dan, what might be another solution?  Ok, I can move your seat.  That is a great idea.   Thanks for trying to solve this Dan.  Let’s see how it works out.

Keep doing this over and over, with student after student in many different situations and students will learn to begin solving their own learning challenges.

Enjoy your week!!!


P.S.  If you haven’t purchased Behavioral Strategies That Work we only have about 10 left.

P.S.S.  Registration for Five Keys to Ensure the Common Core is open!

Reaching Even the Most Difficult Students!

Posted on May 1st, 2014 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Key Classroom teachers worry about their students more often than eight hours a day, five days a week, nine months a year.  We worry about them all the time.  We lay in bed thinking about how we are going to reach them, help them understand, change a behavior, ensure their learning and our lists goes on and on.  The reason we worry is because we believe in our personal efficacy.  We believe that our effort WILL make a difference.  If we didn’t believe that the extra effort we put into each child would work we wouldn’t worry.  Let me provide you with two ways to reach the hard-to-reach students, so you can sleep a little better.

1)  Believe the student can make the change.  Student efficacy is just as important as your own efficacy.  Does the student believe that if they put more effort into their learning they will improve?  Or does the child believe that you either are “smart” or you are not “smart”?  Students must be taught that their success is contingent on their effort not their “smartness”.  Provide timely and specific feedback on student work that includes their effort.  Such as “I can tell you really worked hard on this paragraph because you used all of the spelling words, that was difficult but you did it!”  If you truly believe in your own efficacy and the student believes in their own efficacy then change and learning will occur.

2)  Behaviors can be taught just like a math skill.  Teach a behavior, provide examples, activities, and then re-teach to those students who don’t understand.  Practice the behavioral skill in many different settings, provide timely and specific feedback and report out to parents and students.  This can be done by sticker charts that show the mastery of a behavior or portfolios used for students to chart their own behaviors and report out to their teacher and parents what their success looks like.  Schools must teach school behavior and have high expectations for that behavior.

Please email us the best ways you reach hard-to-reach students at:


Why Does Poverty Matter?

Posted on April 14th, 2014 in Uncategorized | No Comments

This week I received the latest issue of Phi Delta Kappan, if you are not a member you truly are missing out on an amazing organization and research.  I always read each issue but this months is already worn out from page turning, highlighting and being rolled to pause and think.  The title of the issue is: Does income equality threaten American education?  Each article brings more clarity to the subject area but also made to think about what solutions there are to this galaxy sized problem. 

Let’s begin with a quick summary of the first article:  Growing income inequality threatens American education.  Authored by Greg J Duncan and Richard J. Murnane who also authored Restoring Opportunity:  The Crisis of Inequality and the Challenge for American Education.

First, the authors are stating the problem and how the problem can be seen in data such as looking at the income levels ranging from 1970 to 2010, the past forty years and then comparing that to the achievement of high-income students compared to low-income students.  The case is definitely made and supported that the average income (based on 2012 dollars) of the lowest 20th percent and the average income of the highest 95th percent has become increasing divergent and has created a growing gap. 

How does that impact families?  The amount of money spent on enrichment activities for their children is greatly divided.  These enrichment opportunities provide background knowledge for reading instruction in elementary and science and social studies in middle school.  High-income parents also spend more time in literacy activities than do low-income parents.

How does that impact schools?  This wide gap in income has created an income-based segregation of neighborhoods and schools.  This effects schools through student behavior, mental health, political clout of the wealthy, transient students, and poor teacher quality, immigrant language acquisition.  This outcome jeopardizes the positive effects of the benefits of mixed income schools.

What HAS helped?  Federal policies such as the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit have resulted in “improved educational outcomes for young children and health in adulthood.”  The second life preserver is the “quality and consistency of the instruction and experiences offered to students.”

Next month these same authors are going to “Describe ideas based on proven policy approaches that will enable the country to make progress on the enormous task of restoring the educational opportunities that children from low-income families need if they are to lead productive and fulfilling lives.”

Five Ways to Make Your Class Giggle!

Posted on April 7th, 2014 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Timing is the most important variable in this formula.  So remember, once you get your class to giggle they rarely stop.  These strategies could be used ten to fifteen minutes before they go to lunch, to recess or home. Never, think you will be able to bring them back from the laugh factory once you have taken them there.

Why would you want to make them giggle?  Because it’s fun and you are a fun teacher!!!  That’s why kids will do whatever you ask them to do, even if it is difficult, challenging and requires a lot of effort.  They like you and they learn from you.  Not only are you funny but you are also a top-notch teacher who understands all aspects of teaching, especially the aspect of building rapport.

So here they are Five Ways to Make Your Class Giggle!

1.  Dance Party!!!  Ten minutes before the end of class tell the kids you need their advice.  You have been practicing your dance moves for a party your family is going to and you want to know what they think.  Be very serious, set up the music, turn it on and begin but with little confidence.  Say “No wait, let me start again.”  Now they will think this time it is going to be really good.  Turn the music on and dance!!!  Dance like crazy!  If you are an amazing dancer then that is great you will impress them with your dance moves.  But if you dance like the rest of us, exaggerate every bad move you have ever seen and the kids will not be able to keep a straight face.  Go for a while, then turn the music off and ask them what they thought.  Hopefully, they understand you were joking but if not, or if you have a few literal thinkers, let them in on the secret.  Then let everyone dance.  Doing this infront of middle school and high school students might take a little more confidence but I will tell you they will laugh just as hard.

2.  Magic Show!  Everyone loves a magic show and you will earn high points in the “I got the best teacher” department by learning a few tricks.  If you haven’t been to a magic show lately or you haven’t been to a kid magic show, Google it and watch one.  They are funny!!!  Learn a few tricks and show them off.  Take time to learn a few each month and the laughs will keep coming.

3.  Most Embarrassing Moment!  Open yourself up, be a little vulnerable, can you do that?  Middle and high school students love to hear about embarrassing moments.  They are past the point of thinking you sleep under your desk at night and realize that there might be a little bit of human in every teacher.  Those that have been teaching middle and high school for a while probably do this often.  Why?  Because they inadvertently shared a story that started something like this “Guess what happened to me this morning.”  And they experienced  the door into the soul of the adolescent open just a smidge.  So, now they do it all the time.  If you haven’t done it, start writing down all your embarrassing moments from birth till now and start sharing….just make sure it isn’t TMI.

4.  American Idol!  Give the students independent work and let them know you will be sitting at your desk correcting papers.  If they should need help they may first ask a friend, quietly, then they should raise their hand hand and you will come help them.  Sit down, put on a pair of head phones, not ear buds (that’s not funny), plug into your favorite song and start a quiet hum.  Continue correcting papers and humming on and off (it would be really funny to video tape the class’ reaction to what is happening, but there might be some legal issues with that.)  Then add a few words quietly, then a little louder, move a little, do a little chair dance, pick up the volume and then look up.  They will be laughing so just join the crowd!!

5. Your Ideas….keep them coming!

Have a great week!



No Shhhhhhhh! How To Quiet Your Classroom.

Posted on April 2nd, 2014 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Quieting a classroom seems to be one of the most sought after skills of the teaching world.  Most think that if a teacher can quiet a classroom their teaching skills must be top-notch.  Well, that may not always be the case.  However,a teacher in command of her/his classroom is priceless when beginning a lesson, ending a lesson, moving through transitions, providing directions….ok, ok there are many situations when quieting a classroom is essential.  Here are ten highly used techniques.  Which ones work best for you?

1.  Place noise makers such as metal clappers, kazoos, maracas, or desk bell around the classroom.  Have students practice becoming silent when they hear one of the noise makers.

2.  Use the classroom lights.  Flash once to indicate silent time is coming soon.  Flash twice for silence.

3.  Recite a fill in the blank phrase that changes weekly.  The teacher says the first part of the phrase the students finish it and then remain silent.  An example might be “wwwdot” says the teacher, and students reply “com.” Another example is “Facebook and Insta” says the teacher, and students reply “gram.”

4.  Ask students to sit on their hands and be silent on the count of 1, then count backwards from 3 or 5.

5.  Clap out a pattern that students either repeat or finish.

6.  Raise your hand and have students who see your hand raise their hand.  This way if students are not facing the teacher they will see their peers.  Some teachers like to use a peace sign, but an open hand is fine too.

7.  Talking in a whisper will sometimes catch students off guard and they will become silent.  Notice how well they behave on days when you have lost your voice or aren’t feeling well.

8.  Young children like to “Put a bubble in your mouth” then they sit silently until you tell them to let the bubble out.

9.  “Close your eyes and count to five” this moves the focus to the teacher request and away from talking.  Once the students get to five continue on with your directions.

10.  Your best ideas!  Please share with everyone!

With-It -Ness

Posted on March 1st, 2014 in Uncategorized | No Comments

With-it-ness is the combination of teacher clarity in classroom management and command.  The razor sharp ability to anticipate students’ actions, react to students’ actions, and create an atmosphere that appears effortless yet requires a large dose of effort.  Some teachers have a strong personal characteristic of with-it-ness within their lives whether they are planning an outing for friends, running the church festival or raising their children.  These people will take naturally to teacher with-it-ness yet may need guidance on how to best apply their strengths to the classroom.  Other teachers will struggle greatly with with-it-ness and in that situation clear expectations, written plans, consistency and accountability will help to move this from an area of struggle to a strength.

Efficacy – The Change Agent

Posted on February 13th, 2014 in Uncategorized | No Comments

By:  Pamela Whyte, Key Classrooms

“People with high assurance in their capabilities approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided.”
–Albert Bandura


Do you remember the strong push to ensure students felt successful in the 90’s?  We made sure students felt like star students by praising them, providing unending incentives and using the term “You are so smart!” over and over till all kids felt they were “so smart” at everything.  Middle school basketball players were all going to be NBA stars, three year-old dancers were going to grow up to be Broadway dancers and everyone was so smart that they should all go on to college.  There was research coming out that told us if students felt successful in a small task they would feel confident on the next level, and that would lead to mastery.  Teachers across the country were encouraged to make students feel successful and we did that, very well! So why didn’t student achievement improve?  And why did student entitlement increase?  We missed a very important part of the research until Albert Bandura wrote Self Efficacy:  The exercise of control in 1997 then connected efficacy to educational settings in 2003.  Many other researches have worked on efficacy for many years, but it seems to be Bandura’s work from 1997 that is most prevalent in current discussions on efficacy.

This is what we now know:  The more effort you put into something the better you will become at that task.  Students need to understand the reason they do well at a task is because they worked hard at the task.  Refrain from saying “This is easy and you guys can get this” or “You can do this you are so smart.”  Move to feedback and praise like “Class, this is very difficult work, but I know if we work hard on this we will get it” or “I watched as you struggled on number four, and you got it right, what matters is your hard work.”  People want to know they accomplished the task because they worked hard not because it was easy or because they are “smart.”  We are programmed to believe we either ARE or ARE NOT “smart”.  We believe “smartness” is a trait that we HAVE or DON’T HAVE.  That is inaccurate.  What are the implications of a student with a learning disability who believes he is a “HAVE NOT?”

Efficacy does not end with students, teachers and staff need to have a high level of self-efficacy.  The teacher down the hall has the best classroom management you have ever seen in your grade level, it isn’t because she is “smarter” than you it is because she has worked harder on classroom management than you.  You have worked harder on another component of teaching, maybe you have the most incredible smart board lessons.  You are not “smarter” than other teachers, you have just worked harder on smart board lesson plans.  Efficacy applies to everyone in every position within a school.  As we increase efficacy and build a culture around efficacy, student achievement will increase.

Build efficacy in your classroom by focusing on effort and relevant practice.  Build efficacy in your classroom by using praise that focuses on the struggle students have gone through to accomplish a task.  Build efficacy in your school by focusing on coming through the struggle and all of the tasks that have been accomplished even through trials and tribulation.

We have more resources on efficacy on our “Resources” tab at



Celebrate Good Times, C’mon!

Posted on November 11th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments

The last component in the Key Classrooms’ Sit Down vs. Drive Through Classroom Management and Engagement Plan is to CELEBRATE!!!! Don’t we all love to celebrate, sometimes we just need an excuse.  It raises our spirit, causes creative juices to flow and usually puts a smile on everyone’s face.  Ensure celebrations in your classrooms by pre-planning and putting the focus on what you want to see improved.  Yes, it is nice to have a student of the week or celebrate birthdays.  However, there is more to celebrations than being “nice”.  Celebrations can improve student achievement!!  Yes, they can!!  Follow these guidelines:

1.  Choose one thing per month to celebrate to improve achievement.  This will vary from grade to grade.  A few example might be:  Kinder – Those students who recognize two new letters per week, will have their name put in lights (put names on bulletin board, turn off the lights and use a flash light to read the names).  Fourth grade – Those students who improve the amount of detail they put into their descriptive paragraphs each week, receive three extra minutes of recess.

2.  Do not use random picking, such as “I’m putting all of the names of the students who earned behavior stars in a bucket and the names chosen will get lunch with the principal”.  We believe this is the worst kind of reward or celebration.  What if we did this for adults?  “I’m putting the names of all the teachers in the bucket who showed up for work everyday and the names chosen will get paid”.  Doesn’t make sense does it?

3.  Do not reward of celebrate the behavior of parents, such as those students who return a permission slip, or those students who have parents attend conferences, or those students who sell fundraiser items.

4.  Only celebrate what improves achievement and what the student has control over.

5.  Celebrate often but don’t aim to include everyone, aim to celebrate improvement and achievement.



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