Spencer Kagan

Win-Win Discipline and Collaborative Learning

Theory on Classroom Management

Spencer Kagan is a former clinical psychologist. He has done extensive research on cooperation. He believes that behavior changes as a result of the current situation.

He co-authored a book called Win-WIn Discipline. This theory of discipline says student misbehavior stems from an unmet need. The role of teacher is to determine the position the student is coming from and respond according to the position of the student. The ultimate goal is to meet the need and change the behavior to result in a win for the teacher and the class.

He has over 200 "structures" for collaboration and classroom management.



Same Side- the teacher is on the Same Side as the student

Shared Responsibility- Arriving at an understanding with the student

Learned Responsibility- the student learns alternative ways of meeting his/her own needs without disruption

Procedures serve as the prevention of disruptions. Teachers should create and practice procedures as well as have positive interactions with the students to minimize the need to cause distractions.

This is the mindset or need of the student. Teachers must accept the student's position, but not the behavior. The proper behavior must be taught while meeting the students need.

This deals with the response to misbehavior. The teacher identifies the behavior and it's reason and responds appropriately with the matching strategy.

These are ongoing happenings that encourage the appropriate behavior. Kagan suggests cooperative learning activities and engaging lessons to reduce misbehavior.


Kagan has developed collaborative thinking activities or "structures" that work across all content areas. Students are first taught the expectations of collaborative learning and they are held accountable for their participation. The teacher is able to circulate through the groups. Since the students are actively engaged in their learning, there is less desire to be disengaged and misbehave.

  • Numbered Heads Together - The teacher poses a questions to the class. In mixed ability groups of 4, students make sure all group members know the answer. When the teacher calls a name, or number, the students answers.
  • Rally Coach - In pairs, one student solves a problem , while the other coaches. Then they switch roles.
  • Timed Pair Share - In pairs, one student talks for a set amount of time while the other listens. When the signal is given, they switch roles