Author: Robert J. MacKenzie, Ed.D.
Publisher: Three Rivers Press, 1996, 2003
Genre: Non-fiction, Teaching
Rating: **** ½
Setting Limits in the Classroom is a straightforward guide to effective behavior management skills for the classroom. MacKenzie describes easy techniques for dealing with students in a firm, but calm and friendly, manner using: clear verbal messages, encouraging messages, logical consequences, two-stage time-out procedures, “try-it again” approaches, and more.
He uses examples of real teachers in classrooms, pointing out the difference between permissive, punitive, and democratic methods of managing behavior. He then charts out the teacher’s actions with the students – what he calls a “dance” – noting which actions stopped a behavior and which were merely fancy language that did nothing to change the situation for the better.
The book outlines daily regular management skills, how to start off the year and teach kids the rules, methods beyond bribes and material prizes to reward students for good behavior, how to help parents with homework issues, how to deal with extreme behavior, and how to design a school wide discipline program that works effectively.
The techniques in this book are techniques that probably everyone’s heard of, what makes the book special is how clearly these techniques are explained, and the full description of how a teacher might use the technique to solve a classroom behavior problem. MacKenzie is thorough in going through all the possible actions a student might have and how an effective teacher could respond, using a carefully sequenced string of techniques.
****Setting Limits– This is MacKenzie’s book for parents. It covers almost the same skills, using examples and details geared for parents at home rather than teachers. There’s an especially good section on using these skills with teens. An indispensable book, one teachers could recommend to parents who need a good reference for home use.