Element 33

Demonstrating Withitness

Introduction to Element

Strategy 1: being proactive

Teachers need to set up the classroom and its students for success by making sure that adequate preparation is put into the design of lessons and how they will be taught to the students. By differentiating and meeting the needs of students, teachers will lesson the gap of negative behavior occurring in the classroom since students' engagement levels will be higher so there will be less time for disengagement. Spencer Kagan (1989) once stated in an interview regarding research on structure in a classroom that, "our behaviors are determined to a large extent by the situations we're in" (Educational Leadership, p. 9).

Check out the video below on Proactive Instruction by differentiating guru, Carol Tomlinson:

Carol Tomlinson on Differentiation: Proactive Instruction
A teacher can be proactive through:

  • watching recordings of his/herself in interacting with students in the classroom
  • acknowledging the positive behavior before the negative; use class points, individual tickets, or the app Class Dojo to help you keep track of behaviors and to reward in the future.
  • Use noise monitors to assist in keeping voices low so chaos is minimized. Great resources to try out include the following:

Bouncy Balls

sound level is indicated by the movement and size of the bounce balls

Traffic Light for Noise

set the amount of noise to be in the red, yellow, or green zone

Strategy 2: Noticing Potential Problems

Take a look at this second video involving characters from The Lion King. As you watch, think about how Timon and Pumba could have avoided being chased by hyenas through the negative situation they placed themselves in.
The Lion King : Timon & Pumba - The Hula [+ with Lyrics] [HD]
As educators, we must be aware of situations that may cause challenges and/or negative behavior and be prepared with a plan. We must know how we will handle potential problems that could be a disaster and know how to look for warning signs where disruption or negative behavior will occur. According to Harry Wong (1998), "The reason effective teachers are effective is that they have far fewer student problems and hence are able to get their students to work and to achieve. As such, effective teachers incur far less stress in having to deal with behavior problems and are able to leave each day feeling happy, accomplished, and proud" (The First Days of School, p. 92).

Harry Wong focuses on teachers needing to "manage, not discipline" in averting problems

Harry Wong: Discipline and Procedures
When students' attention seems to be drifting elsewhere, options to consider trying before negative behavior set in are:

  • offering a quick brain break to allow for movement; try Go Noodle for some quick songs and videos
  • offer stations and a rotation plan in lessons to change the pace but perhaps not the subject/theme (Padlet and Symbaloo are great resources to help direct students' attention to educational sites and discussions)
  • Allow students reflection time to document their thoughts and ideas. Google docs and Evernote are resources for academic notebooks)


Brandt, Ron (1989). On Cooperative Learning: A Conversation with Spencer Kagan. Educational Leadership, vol. 47, no. 4, 8-11.

Marzano, Robert (2014). Enhancing the Art and Science of Teaching with Technology. Bloomington, IN; Marzano Research Laboratory.

Wong, Harry (1998). The First Days of School. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publishing.