Classroom Management Day-long Training: Coming Soon


I am happy to tell you that I will be attending Time-to-Teach training in Atlanta on Classroom Management. Like the training I got in Orlando in July, this training will enable me to work with teachers on reclaiming TIME in their classroom sessions. Where the Differentiated Instruction training shows us how to more effectively engage and motivate students, Classroom Management training will enable us to effectively address low-level behaviors that rob us of time to teach and prevent these behaviors from growing into larger issues that disrupt the classroom culture.

I will be flying to Atlanta on October 14 and return on the 19th. I look forward to seeing friends I made in Orlando and make acquaintance with new professionals who seek to carry the Classroom Management content to more professionals in school districts where teachers are struggling with CM issues in their classrooms.

Upon my return I will bring more information about what I am sure will have been another wonderful experience. I look forward to sharing what I learn with you.


Don’t be afraid to continue learning, even about subjects you are confident you already know a great deal. You may discover new techniques to address challenges you face everyday, techniques that will provide you with degrees of success never imagined. Explore the opportunities that might exist for you to get out of your comfort zone and expand you base of knowledge.

Fighting Technology

No posts since August 21. So, what’s up with Les and his Stevens Educational Consulting website?

I’ve been trying to modify the website, with little success over the past month. Of course, I haven’t exactly been working at it 27/7/365. But I have been attempting to add “ecommerce” scripts to the sight and to no avail. Who knew that you can’t have “two scripts on the same root,” that my purchased (cheap) “theme” that I really kinda liked was not playing well with WordPress (one of those scripts) or that adding a certain widget, which I have now deleted, “causes problems” or that I haven’t a clear idea what much, if anything, that all means? Who knew?

Well – me, now! After great frustration and a password that somehow no longer works after the good folks at Arvixe (my web host) “fixed” my mistakes, I have made it back to the dashboard where I can start anew: with a WordPress theme, ONE script in ONE ROOT and ANOTHER SCRIPT (Open Cart) on ANOTHER ROOT, the aforementioned widget long gone and a somewhat better understanding of what the hell I’m doing (I HOPE!).

What, pray tell, does any of this have to do with education, student engagement, motivation or helping kids learn?

It reminds me that engagement, plus a little more information about building websites, will get one further along the road to success than just engagement, especially frustrated engagement. I was cursing more than I was thinking, quite frankly. And I was wishing the the support desk at Arvixe explained things better – along with fixing my mistakes. They did not engage me. They just delivered CONTENT.


Demand engagement with the content, especially from non-educators who do not understand its importance or its necessity.

Give me some time to update the existing website, making critical additions and then choosing what I hope will be some nice additions and mixes of color and we’ll be back to blogging more frequently – and cursing to a much lesser degree.

Thanks for hanging with me.

Thanks, Educational Researchers

I stayed up way too late last night, watching the Dave Grohl-directed Sonic Highways documentary series on HBO. Grohl has a well-earned reputation as a music preservationist and I highly recommended the Emmy-nominated series. Last night I viewed episodes on his visits to the desert outside Palm Springs, New Orleans and Seattle, where Grohl made his name as the drummer for Nirvana. I watched these episodes and vowed to watch more with a profound thanks for people like Grohl who clearly loves music and what he does.

That got me thinking about some of the very impressive people who have dedicated their careers to learning more about teaching and learning. From Eric Jensen and his work about the human brain and its workings to Robert Marzano and his work on what works in the classroom, I have had the opportunity to see them, hear them speak and read their work. Other names come to mind: Tomlinson, Hayes-Jacobs, Darling-Hammond, Ravitch, McTighe & Wiggens. The list goes on and on.

Marzano’s work on student engagement, as well as the work of Phil Schlechty, have influenced my thinking. Willard Daggett and his Rigor & Relevance Framework, too, provided me with a means of leading my teachers toward more engaging lesson plans. Jerry Valentine and his Instructional Practices Inventory, too, got us thinking more about the levels of engagement in our classrooms while I was a superintendent.

Daniel Pink’s books on motivation have been enlightening, as has the work on Donald A. Schon on reflective practice.


Read or re-read a book by your favorite author or on the educational practice that trips your trigger and be thankful that we have expert researchers who pass along great threads of thinking on what we do. Like Dave Grohl, they love what they do, contribute greatly to the body of knowledge on teaching and learning and offer us opportunities to tap into our passions about teaching and learning.

Reflecting on Student Engagement & Motivation

In reflecting on a definition for Differentiated Instruction, I contemplate the relationship between student engagement and motivation. Are they the same? How are they dissimilar? Is one an antecedent to the other? Can a teacher motivate a student? Or is motivation entirely intrinsic? If they are not the same, what actor in the teaching-learning dynamic is “responsible” for engagement and whose job is motivation? Interesting questions all and teachers would be wise to give them some consideration. Following the reader will find my thoughts which I hope are worthy of his consideration.

Picture the legendary football coach, moments before the team takes the field for the biggest game of the year. He pounds his rolled-up program into his hand as he marches the length of the locker room, his voice rising and lowering in volume and intensity. He’s motivating his charges as they prepare for battle against an opponent for whom the team has been preparing for weeks. It is, as athletes tend to say, “Go-Time.”

Are this coaches words engaging or motivating? Are they both? I suggest that what the coach is attempting to do is to tap into the intrinsic motivation within each player – willing his players to take the field with a desire for peak performance, a willingness to do whatever-it-takes to win, a commitment to sustain the effort to win until the final buzzer sounds. I submit to you that a coach can do that. He can push the right buttons, pull the right strings, appeal to each player’s individual values (love of the game, love of the school he represents, love of his teammates, lust for a chance to play at the next level, fear of letting down the boosters, whatever it might be) to get the player to take the field fully motivated. What motivates No. 14 may not do the trick for No. 44. It’s often an individual response. Then, there’s this…

This motivation, however, is ephemeral and can not be sustained on most occasions.

The coach would be smart to have his assistant coaches, or even veteran players, also seeking to engage players by tapping into the preparations they have been making all week-long, refocusing their attention and interest on what they each, as individuals, must do in order for the team to function as a unit on each play. “Remember to hold that block on the sweep, Teddy.” “Don’t allow number 88 to use that swim move when he takes the inside path to our pocket, Ben.” “First guy tackles; second guy punches the ball loose, D-line. Remember that!”

It is the job of the teacher, I posit, to engage. Allow the student to motivate himself for the long-term.

Motivation, without the engagement, will only take the performer so far, I suggest. Let’s look at another example. Sorry, it’s another athletic one; but, it serves my purpose here, I think.

My buddy, Jeff, is about to play his weekly round of golf with Jerry. They are friends; but the competition is palpable with these two. They want to beat the other guy in the worst way. The motivation, then, is there for Jeff. He wants to win. He’s ready for Go-Time. And yet, he just got a text message from his daughter who’s getting married next month. She let’s him know that the wedding planner needs a deposit on some big ticket item for the reception. Jeff is worried about money.

How far will his motivation take him today? He’s also heard from his brother out in Tulsa within the past week. The brother’s been laid off. Thirty-four years he worked for this company and they just showed him the door. Jeff’s worried about his brother and he’s worried about the possibility that he could be laid off some day. I suggest to you that Jeff is not going to play his best, lessening his chances of besting Jerry today. He’s motivated. He can articulate to himself and to Jerry how badly he wants to win this round of golf. But he is not engaged.

He’s not thinking about his approach to the game, course management, keeping his head down, or following through – all those things he’ll need to do to beat his friend. Jeff’s level of engagement is a real impactor on whether his motivation will carry the day – or the water hazard on No. 8.

So, why must a teacher be so concerned with knowing about engagement and motivation? Two reasons:

First, the teacher knows that he/she can, on occasion, tap into those things he knows about his student(s) to motivate the student(s). But motivation is largely up to the student. The teacher’s real job is engaging the student(s).

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the teacher can teach his students that “motivation without engagement lessens their chances to achieve.” What a valuable lesson for the performer. He must be motivated AND engaged!


Engage a colleague (or two) in a conversation about engagement v. motivation. It might be interesting to have such a conversation with a coach, the band director or the teacher who directs the class play each year. They probably have some interesting insights into the engagement-motivation dynamic. Reflect on their efforts, and yours, to motivate, to engage, to allow engagement to assist intrinsic motivation to achieve.


Exciting to Get Started…

I am indeed excited to begin this blog and to get the Stevens Educational Consulting website up and running. I am passionate about all things teaching and learning. This blog will be dedicated to bringing you my thoughts, for what they’re worth, to interested readers on what I see as important for teachers and administrators to know.

Each blog post will be my sometimes-filtered views on the topic-of-the-day, as well as a call-to-action. I hope you’ll review the blog’s content, engage in some reflective practice, and give some thought to the action I hope you’ll take – even if it’s just to give my thoughts some of your thought.

I hope to blog often and promise to tell you the truth as I see it.

I recently retired from a career in education that lasted forty-one years. But I’m not done yet, not by any means. I have a lot to say about a wide range of topics. And, of course, I hope to drive you to the Stevens Educational Consulting website from which this blog springs.

There you will find information about the presentations, break-out sessions, and keynotes I hope to deliver in the near future. Day-long presentations on Differentiated Instruction, including the delivery of content from the Center on Teacher Effectiveness/Time-to-Teach and come at a cost. I hope you and your school/district are interested enough to request a quote, once the website is “up and running.”

Break-out sessions, 30- to 45-minutes in length will take place at conferences that accept my proposals and come free-of-charge, unless you’ve had to pay for your conference registration. These break-out sessions will be aimed at providing you with valuable strategies you will find useful and can implement the very next day, assuming school is in session.

I’m preparing a number of these sessions in the hopes of getting out in front of an audience, providing a service to audience members who choose to join me, have fun, and hear more about strategies what will prove useful when they return to their schools/districts.

I’m also working on an initial keynote that I hope to deliver soon – at an institute, conference, or school-improvement-day near you.

I hope you’ll join me in this adventure, as I seek to make my retirement as fulfilling for me as I’d always hoped and as useful to you as you continue your career as an educator.

Note: Reflective practice is a core belief, about which I am passionate. You’ll be seeing a lot about it in coming blog posts.