Read what you love, the skills will follow

I used to tell kids all the time, “You need to read every day because it makes you smarter.”  Kids would share related reasons for reading that were perhaps more connected to the markers they understood as indicating smartness: “reading makes your fluency go up;” “you need to read so you can get to Level P,” “you have to read so you can do well on the state test.”  The newcomers I work with now talk about how reading will help them learn English.  Of course, I had defined my goals for students, for myself and for them, in reference to these scoring systems.  They knew we were trying to grow our fluency by 50 words per minute, or grow two grade levels in one year, or move up one band on the CST.  That’s what I wanted for them, and because of my enthusiasm, they wanted it too.

But why?  Why do they need to read faster, or read more challenging books, or do well on state tests?  I know that that’s not the end goal for literacy: those are simply measures of skills that usually go along with what we really want for kids: to love language, and to love reading and writing, and to use these powerful tools to achieve their personal goals.  I want kids to read every night not because they’re obedient, but because they can’t even begin to put the book down.

Will a reading habit help students with long-term economic and career success?  Yes, of course, and a crucial part of our jobs as educators is to prepare children with the skills and knowledge that will give them freedom as adults.  But a reading habit will just not happen if reading is treated solely as an instrument to achieve good grades or a good salary.  Ironically, kids will develop the reading they need for life success only if they read for love, not for reward.

Deci and Flaste (1996) wrote about their experiments with reward and motivation.  They found that, contradicting the traditional behaviorist view of motivation (think: give the dog a cookie for rolling over; Pavlov’s dogs; etc.), promising a reward actually undermines humans’ interest in doing things that they otherwise find inherently enjoyable and would do on their own, like drawing.  When we talk to kids about the extrinsic rewards of reading, we might be undermining the very thing we most want to promote.

Maybe from my own perspective, I’m still thinking of reading as a means to an end: I know that my kids will need to be strong readers to have the kinds of options and freedoms that I want for them in life.  I also know that they’ll only get that good at reading through mountains of practice.  But since I also know that they’ll never get that practice unless they love it, I’ve stopped talking to my kids about reading in terms of extrinsic goals.  Instead I ask, “What are you reading?  Do you like it?  Why?  If you don’t, you can switch books!”  If they’re not reading, I ask, “Do you have books you like?  What kinds of books do you want me to get from the library for you?”

Of course, wanting children to love what they read does not mean we never challenge them with difficult literature or with genres outside of their current preferences.  Part of our job is to help kids expand their knowledge of the written world so they can find new things they love.  But you know what?  They don’t have to mostly read what we want them to.  They should mostly read what they like to.  I’m grateful that teachers exposed me to historical fiction, as I continue to be a huge fan of the genre; but despite my teachers’ best efforts, I just don’t like reading poetry.  But I don’t have to read it, because I’m an adult, and I get to make my own choices, and the lack of poetry in my life is not holding me back or making me unhappy.  Let’s allow our students the same freedom of choice, right now.  The first focus of reading should be love.


Why I Hate the Marshmallow Test

Maybe you’ve heard of the marshmallow test.  It’s a perennial favorite of people who write about how things that happen in childhood can predict everything that matters about your future. You can read about it in the Atlantic, in the New Yorker, in the Times, or at CNN, or listen to a podcast on it at Radiolab.  The Wall Street Journal uses it as a metaphor for Obama’s budget in 2012.  KQED recently wrote about “A ‘Marshmallow Test for the Digital Age.”

Basically, a researcher puts a marshmallow down in front of a kid and says, “I’m going out of the room now.  You can eat this right now or you can wait.  If you can wait until I come back, then you can have TWO marshmallows.”  Here’s an adorable video of some kids trying to resist temptation:

The first experiments (paywall) were conducted in the 1960s and 70s by Walter Mischel at Stanford.  Researchers followed up with participants years later, and found that their ability to “delay gratification” (wait for the marshmallow) predicted higher SAT scores, lower body mass index, less crack cocaine use, higher sense of self worth, and just better coping ability (all summarized in this article, which also has a paywall).  Basically, waiting for the marshmallow at 4 meant you were winning at life at 34.

What frustrates me about the buzz around the marshmallows is that it gets treated, in a shorthand way, as though kids either “pass” or “fail” the marshmallow test, and that presages whether they will pass or fail all kinds of future tests.  Mischel himself does not conflate behavior in the experiment with passing/failing, but others seem to hold it up as proof that waiting is a virtue and some kids don’t have it as young as preschool.

But as my favorite professor likes to say, kids make sense.  We can’t treat the kids who reach for that marshmallow as though they are unable to delay gratification.  What if they are just using a sensible strategy to achieve gratification based on what they have experienced in life?  Sure, if all the grown-ups I have ever met tend to follow through on their promises to me–the dentist really does give me a prize after a cleaning, my mom really does read me a story after I brush my teeth–then I totally believe this random adult who has come into my preschool to offer me treats.  But what if the adults in my life typically don’t, or can’t, despite their best efforts, come through for me?  What if my mom promised we wouldn’t change schools again but then unexpectedly got laid off so we had to move?  What if my dad always says he’ll play catch with me after dinner but then seems to have urgent emails every night?  Or even if I know I can trust my parents, maybe I’ve learned not to depend on people outside the family for my happiness.  All I know now is, there is a marshmallow right in front of me.  Who knows if this guy is really going to come back in with another one?  What if he even takes this one away?  Isn’t a bird in hand worth two in the bush?

Then, on through life, so it goes.  The instability continues, and so does the logic that it’s better to have something good now than to plan for something that may never materialize.  I’m just imagining examples here: As a kid, Jamal was frequently suspended from preschool, teaching him that his routine could be disrupted at any time.  As he grew up, he was told that if he worked hard, he could get a good job, yet employers never seem to respond to his resume.  He has a lower sense of self-worth.  Leila and her mom kept having to move from apartment to apartment to follow the jobs.  This made her mistrust the future in preschool, and made her miss the SAT prep course offered at one high school she briefly attended.  Lee developed a sweet tooth as a kid when food was in short supply at his house.  He learned to eat whatever was in front of him as soon as it was available, and to down sweets in particular before his brothers got them.  Now as an adult, he wants to exercise and be healthy, but his neighborhood has no parks, grocery stores, or safe areas to work out.  He has a high BMI.  In all these (totally fictional) examples, the instability causes both the marshmallow eating and the later worse life outcomes.  Not delaying gratification is what makes sense in these contexts.

Mischel talks about this in the New Yorker piece.  He points out that what happens outside the home definitely affects kids’ ability to delay gratification.  My favorite line is this, about parents: “do they make waiting worthwhile?”  Exactly.  If your parents, or your life circumstances, mean waiting makes no difference, or even makes you worse off, then waiting is not a reasonable behavior.

This great Slate piece talks about a more recent experiment that attempts to test this idea.  They placed kids in either “reliable” or “unreliable” scenarios, where adults either came through for them or didn’t, and then gave them the marshmallow test.  Guess who didn’t wait very long?  Those kids weren’t unable to delay gratification–they were sharp kids who had learned how the world around them worked.  Kids make sense!

Schrodinger’s Kid, or, Why Formative Assessment Matters

Shrodinger’s cat is a paradox that I cannot claim to totally understand, but for the purposes of this post, it’s a thought experiment/paradox that says that a cat in a box with poison, which could be either alive or dead, is simultaneously both alive and dead until you check, when it becomes one or the other.  Something like that.  It involves quantum mechanics.  And you can go ahead and try to explain it better in the comments if you like!

No, I do not want you to put any of your students in a box with a flask of poison.  But I do want you to look in the box.  As I explained in Nobody’s Teaching if Nobody’s Learning, you can’t stand up in front of your students talking, or give them things to do that keep them occupied, and claim it’s teaching.  It doesn’t count if being in your class that day didn’t somehow change their skills or knowledge or academic dispositions.  But how do you know if they’re learning?  Until you check, it’s Shrodinger’s kid: you have to assume they’re all learning and not learning until you check.  And you don’t want to wait too long to look in the box, or you might find out they haven’t been learning at all.

This is the essence of formative assessment.  People often contrast summative and formative assessment by saying one is assessment of learning while the other is assessment for learning.  Honestly, it’s kind of misleading to even call them the same noun.  Summative assessment is basically testing; formative assessment might be more transparently called checking for understanding, and it should be completely woven in with the daily work of teaching and learning.

In her classic article “Formative Assessment: An Enabler of Learning,” Margaret Heritage explains the key traits of formative assessment:

  • It’s related to a learning objective.  You’re checking kids’ understanding of what they’re supposed to be learning, and trying to uncover the root of any problems you see.
  • It’s on-going.  You should be doing it all the time.  That doesn’t mean you’re giving quizzes–it means you’re trying to listen to your kids and understand their thinking at least as much as you’re making them listen to you.
  • It informs instruction.  You need to take the information about your kids’ learning and use it to change your instruction–to reteach a point (to everyone or just a few people), to find a new way to explain, to cut out something that’s too easy, to know when to move on.

Formative instruction should also involve the kids.  Ideally, they’re self-assessing along the way.  Kids need to learn how to notice when they do or do not understand, and when to ask questions.  Kids can also give feedback to their peers, though they have to be trained on how to do it tactfully and usefully (a topic for another post).  Finally, and this is most important: as you are checking kids’ understanding, you need to give them feedback that includes guidance about what and how to improve.  Just as you need to know how your kids are doing, they need to know how they’re doing, so they can be involved in making sure they master the learning goals.

How do you formatively assess students?  Here are just a handful of ways:

  • Have one kid read to you and think about if the book is a good match for the kid.  If there’s a problem, what is it?
  • Ask a kid to show you where in his writing he applied a lesson you taught–e.g. “Show me where you used transition words to help your reader follow your argument.  How did you know to put one there?”
  • Give kids a discussion topic–ideally, something without a fixed answer, or at least not a clear one–and then listen in to who says what.  Take notes on any misunderstandings you’re seeing.
  • For short-answer kinds of questions (e.g. “What’s an antonym for ‘clever’?”, “Who was the main character of this book?”), have all your kids write their answers on personal white boards and hold them up at once.  Then you can quickly see who knows what antonym or main character mean, and who still needs help.

Here’s one example: A first-grade teacher is working with a small group on the a_e spelling.  After giving a blending lesson, where all the students read a set of words chorally, the teacher has each student come up to the board and choose two words to read and erase.  Before they can erase, they must look at their peers for approval of their reading.  Karina comes up and reads “name” correctly, eliciting thumbs-up from all her peers.  She then reads “cap” for “cape.”  Three students give the sign for disagreement, but Keonte shows a thumbs up.  Ms. March can see that three of the students seem (so far) to be solid on a_e, but that both Karina and Keonte need a reminder.  “Karina, you said cap.  You made the short a sound.  Who can give a letter hint?”  Michael offers, “a_e says ay” and Luz says, “the e makes the a say its name.”  Karina then reads “cape” and everyone, including Keonte, gives a thumbs up.

The point is, your checks for understanding should relate to your learning goals, inform your instruction, and give information to kids on how they’re doing and how to improve.  Open that box and see what they know!

P.S. Check out this great video of Margaret Heritage talking about the importance of getting to know your ELLs in order to teach them properly.  It’s just 2 minutes!

Nobody’s Teaching if Nobody’s Learning

Man #1: I taught my dog to whistle.

Man #2: Really!?  Can I hear her?

Man #1: Well, I taught it, but she didn’t learn it.

Of course, Man #1 in that joke is very silly.  If his dog can’t whistle, then he didn’t teach her to whistle.  But sometimes we forget this simple truth in our own classrooms.  If nobody’s learning anything, then you didn’t really teach anything (just like in the picture at the top, if no one’s in the room you can’t really claim you taught a lesson.)

Scenario #1: “I taught it, they just didn’t learn it.”

Sometimes you’ve explained an objective every way you can think of, and your kids are still totally confused.  This can be incredibly frustrating, because it can cause you to start to question your own competence or your kids’ capabilities, both of which are dangerous paths to go down.  They can learn, and you can learn how to teach them.  If something isn’t sticking or making sense, you might need to take a step back so you can think it over, study the curriculum materials, or talk about it with a colleague, but don’t give up.  You haven’t taught it until your kids have learned it.

Scenario #2: “We’re drawing Pilgrims”

As elementary teachers (heck, this is probably true of all teachers), we need to incorporate some FUN into our day.  We have to make sure kids get to do things, talk to each other, and move around.  We have to make sure that what we offer kids is engaging, or they will direct their boundless energy elsewhere.  Plus, with huge number of minutes we must put toward literacy and math each day, we have to find ways to sneak social studies, science, art, music and P.E. in during the day.  However, we have to avoid scheduling activities just for the sake of activities.  Activities must be in service to learning objectives that are aligned to standards.  Maybe instead of having kids “just draw Pilgrims,” you’re having them practice an art standard about color and shading.  Maybe it’s a social studies standard related to learning about life long ago vs. life today.  Maybe they have to read for details and then draw to show they’ve understood the text.  In any case, whatever you’re doing has to have a learning verb attached to it.

Scenario #3: “We’re doing worksheets”

Just as teachers can go a little too carried away with “creative” activities, we can sometimes lose sight of our real goals for kids as we focus on covering the material.  Our job is not simply to finish the math workbook before June, or to have kids fill out the cause-and-effect graphic organizer correctly (“It’s EFFECT because CAUSE, not CAUSE because EFFECT!!”–me).  Our job is to ensure they master the core concepts of the grade-level curriculum, that they advance significantly in their reading and writing.  They need to use cause-and-effect understanding to make sense of text; filling out a worksheet correctly may or may not mean they have the fundamental understanding.  That’s why we need to step out of our comfort zones as educators and become more adept with practices that promote critical thinking: open-ended questions, peer-to-peer discussions to build knowledge, having kids speak and write to argue from evidence, giving kids real books to read and write about.

Next time I’ll talk about how to tell if your kids are learning anything.  For now, remember: talking to kids, giving kids fun things to do, or giving kids worksheets are not the same thing as learning.  Your teaching is successful when your kids understand or are able to do something that they could not before your teaching.

Near Year: It really is new (even for teachers!) (Part 3)

In Part 1 of this January-is-back-to-school series, I talked about checking your kids’ progress against your year-long goals and laying out the plans for dramatic academic success.  In Part 2, I talked about resetting your overall classroom norms, expectations, and consequences.  In Part 3, I’ll address those daily moments that can, taken together, make or break your year: routines and procedures.

As I’ve mentioned before, kids are like aliens: they are new to the planet, and they don’t really know how anything works yet.  They don’t know how to do anything you haven’t taught them how to do.  If you want them to line up, sharpen pencils, take out their folders, answer questions, read a book, or have a discussion, you have to show them how to do it and help them practice.  When your kids understand your expectations for day-to-day routines, everything runs smoothly.  When they are not on the same page as you, every event, from sitting on the rug to turning in papers, is going to be a constant, frustrating battle.

First, identify 1-3 times of day that things seem to fall apart–when do your kids get off task?  Do they just stop listening to you after recess?  When does all productivity seem to grind to a halt?  Name these events, and define their beginning and end: this is the event for which you will be developing a procedure.

Second, imagine exactly how you’d like this time of day to unfold.  What would kids be doing?  Where would they physically be standing?  What materials would they need?  Where should they be looking?  How loud would they be?  It’s helpful to write this down for at least one procedure, using the mnemonic: bodies, hands, eyes, mouths.  Remember that this is in service to your academic and social goals for your kids.  I once went on a power trip where I wanted my kids to be silent basically ALL THE TIME.  Mistake.  They hated it, and even though I could get them to do it, we were all miserable.  Letting your kids talk quietly as they come into the room might make it easier for them to be quiet during your math lesson.  Allow them as much freedom as they can handle, but clearly define what the correct behavior looks like.

Third, teach the routine to your kids and practice it!  Name the procedure, demonstrate it and describe what you’re doing, and coach kids to perform it.  (A poster helps too–see the featured image for this post.)  You might have a small group model how to transition back to their desks, while others check their performance against the procedure as explained.  Then have everyone try.  Narrate what you are seeing, making explicit reference to the criteria.  If kids don’t do it correctly, have them repeat it.  Make sure you keep it very positive!  You don’t want to fall into fuming, “WE WON’T GO TO LUNCH UNTIL WE LEARN HOW TO CONTROL OURSELVES IN LINE!!!”  This makes everyone unhappy.  Instead, make it a positive challenge.  They’ll buy it if you sell it!  “Wow, scholars, that was great!  You followed step 1, stand up and step 2, push in your chair perfectly.  We need to work on step 3: walk right to the line.  Let’s try one more time!  Who can remind us how to do it the right way?”

Fourth, follow through!  Sometimes it can seem silly to spend this much time working on these bits and pieces of classroom life, but it pays off.  If you focus on the purpose of the routines–to create the environment for learning and growth to occur productively–you’ll see that they buy you so much time in the long run.  Be careful with consequences: kids who are outright defying your expectations are breaking the class norms and need to have a conversation with you and a parent.  But mostly, kids are either unsure of the correct routine or unsure whether you really mean it.  They need practice, consistency, and positivity from you.  I’ve seen wonderful things happen by using a timer to keep track of how quickly kids accomplish transitions, and celebrating their progress!

Remember, to eliminate headaches around daily classroom events: define trouble spots, describe the ideal, teach & practice the new routine, and follow through.  You don’t have to wait for September to start over–you can start tomorrow!

Book Review: Improbable Scholars

Union City, where failure is no longer an option

In Improbable Scholars, David L. Kirp addresses a popular and pressing question: How can our nation raise achievement for impoverished and minority students? Kirp aims to unearth the answer by studying the case of an outlier district: Union City, New Jersey. Union City has the familiar list of statistics (93% are poor, 98% are students of color, and more than 75% speak a language other than English at home) (; Kirp, 2013, p. 16) that seem to doom similar students around the country to poor test scores and high dropout rates. But Union City is bucking these trends, and Kirp wants to show us why. He paints a wide-ranging portrait of the district, moving from the classroom to the district headquarters, from the preschools to the mayor’s office, from the distant past to the present, and converges on a few key assertions: Union City has done so well because cultivates internal expertise and leadership that then focuses on long-term, incremental change, using a cycle of “plan, do, review” at every level. Ultimately, he points out that the vast majority of America’s children will continue to be educated in traditional public schools, and urges leaders and policymakers to study Union City for lessons they can apply to other districts.

According to Kirp, Union City’s success rests on a solid foundation of mostly consistent, home-grown, hard working educators. Many of the teachers and administrators he profiles grew up in New Jersey, attended regional colleges, and have spent their entire careers in Union City schools. Kirp spent months observing and interacting with the third graders of Alina Bossbaly, a teacher with nearly 30 years’ experience in Union City. He describes her energetic, nuanced teaching that is targeted toward the academic, emotional, and linguistic needs of each child in her classroom. Alina has also been a leader among her grade-level team, guiding collaborative planning, modeling lessons, and coaching her colleagues. Alina’s sort of teaching, experienced and skilled, is not universal in the district, but is increasingly common because of strong leaders like Alina’s principal, Les Hannah, who has also spent her life in the district. Les Hannah knows how to win over parents and how to coach teachers, but also know how to strategically deploy her strongest staff to help others grow. In turn, principals like Les are both pushed and supported by the central district office staff. Sandy Sanger, the superintendent, collaborates with a dream team of curricular and language experts like Fred Carrigg, who revamped the district’s literacy curriculum starting in the 1990s.

Clear, high expectations, accompanied by appropriate support, are a common theme from the classroom to the district office in Union City. The district leaders hold their principals to “The Blueprint for Sustained Academic Achievement,” a checklist that collects best practices of the most successful principals from around the district; principals require teachers to have their daily planbooks organized and at the ready for any visitors; and teachers require their students to read, to write, and to think critically. At every level, instructional leaders are also examining assessment data for evidence of student learning and to find weak spots to target for improvement. Decisions in Union City are driven by data; all leaders operate on a cycle of trying, reviewing the outcomes, and adjusting. This district-wide focus on data and best practices are a big part of Union City’s success, according to Kirp: since Union City began to implement these practices in the 1990s, they have gone from the second-worst performing district in the state (“Thank God for Camden”) to about the state average, performing similarly to suburban middle-class districts in the state.

Kirp profiles few specific initiatives that have also contributed to Union City’s achievements. The city has invested heavily in early education, and all 3- and 4-year-olds living in the district may attend full-time preschool (and most do). Yet another internal expert, Adriana Birne, is charged with ensuring that pre-school students all receive high-quality education, and spends a great deal of her time coaching site leaders and helping align the pre-K curriculum across the district. At the other end of the age spectrum, Union City has invested in a modern, fully equipped campus for all its high school students. Another strong instructional leader, John Bennetti, was tapped to coordinate the goals and teaching methods of the huge, diverse staff there. Unsurprisingly, both the pre-schools and the high school are seeing the sort of difficult, incremental, yet consistent progress that Kirp says characterizes Union City as a whole.

Kirp acknowledges some circumstances that set Union City apart from other districts striving to improve. For example, a decades-old New Jersey Supreme Court decision mandates much higher funding levels for the districts with most at-risk students than most similar districts in other states get. This money has made the universal pre-school program possible in Union City. Union City also has a particular brand of insider politics that have allowed reform-minded district leaders to select their staff, and an incredibly popular mayor who is also a state representative and who has made improving the schools his top priority. Still, Kirp maintains that this does not mean that Union City’s achievements cannot be replicated. He devotes a chapter to describing three other districts, all with similarities and differences to Union City, that are also defying statistical trends and successfully educating their low-income students by focusing on incremental, data-driven change.

Kirp’s message is that there is no silver bullet, or even a solid blueprint that other districts can imitate. He rejects the calls of the school-reform mainstream for more charters, more testing, more high-stakes teacher evaluations, no excuses, showing that these are flashy, flash-in-the-pan ideas that do not lead to sustainable change. Rather, improvement like that seen in Union City grows out of consistent leaders dedicating themselves to reliable, proven strategies, and adjusting (not abandoning) course according to information about students. He emphasizes that Union City’s ability to buck the statistics comes out of hard, unglamorous work by normal, persistent (and not necessarily charismatic) people. While some of Union City’s circumstances are unique, Kirp’s message is that this is a model for success that any district can follow.

References (2013). “Test Scores for Union City.” Retrieved on 11/1/13 from <;.

Kirp, D. L. (2013). Improbable scholars: The rebirth of a great American school system and a strategy for America’s schools. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

New Year: It really is new (even for teachers!) – Part 2

In my last post, I focused on readdressing your goals for the year and tightening your plans to make sure your kids are on track to make great academic progress before June.  In this post, I’m going to talk about resetting your classroom management and culture.  January is not too late to build a great social world for you and your kids!

You can treat the first day back from break like it’s the first day of school.  In fact, you probably have to.  Remember that elementary kiddos are kind of like aliens: they are pretty new to this planet, and they’re still learning the ropes.  They’ve probably forgotten a lot about what you expect from them.  So here’s what you do:

First: Set class norms.  These can be done somewhat in collaboration with your kids, depending on their age.  Most people will recommend that you have kids generate lots of rules and then group them together under a few (3-5) overall norms.  I’ve found the kids under third grade have a hard time arriving at these “main idea rules.”  Sometimes I just tell kids flat-out that there are three rules: work hard, be nice, follow directions.  This covers all manner of sins!  Write down the norms, and explicitly talk about what they mean.  Here’s a picture of the norms my kids and I set, with everyone’s signatures:

It says: Rules of Room 10: 1. Work hard 2. Be nice 3. Keep everything beautiful 4. Have fun generated with kids, circa 2009

Second: Develop predictable consequences.  For the vast majority of minor misbehaviors in my class, I give kids a reminder of what I expect.  Most of the time, they just forget, and forgetfulness should not be punished.  But my kids know that if they violate our core norms–that is, if they play around during work time, if they are deliberately mean to or hurt someone, or if they deliberately disobey a clearly understood direction–there will be fallout.  Try to make the consequence fit the misbehavior.  Skipping work means skipping something fun later; deliberately disobeying means a serious discussion with me.  Being mean is even more serious: you must have a one-on-one conversation with any child who has tried to hurt another, to get at the root of what’s going on and try to prevent this behavior from ever reoccurring.  An apology cannot be a punishment (“You must say you’re sorry or you can’t go to recess!!”), but your goal is that through conversation about the hurt done, you will be able to coach the student to apology.  All of these violations mean a phone call home later.

Third: Follow Through.  At least 90% of your kids do not actively wish to misbehave or defy you (and that other 10% are usually special cases who really need love and support).  When they push back against your rules, they’re just trying to figure out if the rules are real.  Remember, they’re new humans, and if you’ve slacked off on enforcing your class norms before, they’re just trying to figure out if you’ll do so again.  Stay above the fray: remain neutral (never angry–give yourself a minute if you’re upset!) and 100% predictable when it comes to enforcing classroom norms.

Now you’ve got the foundation for a positive classroom environment.  In my next post, I’ll address how to set routines and procedures that will help eliminate some of your daily struggle to just make things run smoothly!  In the meantime, remember: set & explain clear norms, create predictable consequences, and follow through (calmly).