Classroom management strategies: Getting through to the ‘tough kids’

Guest post contributed by Classcraft Ambassador Roy R. Rodriguez

My favorite unit to teach is Interpersonal Communication. Why? Simply put, I know that by teaching my students the importance of working well with others and creating meaningful relationships, they will always advance in life. In fact, research proves that employers are more likely to hire and even promote those individuals with great interpersonal communication skills. These are important skills for our students to learn!

What if you don’t teach a communication class, you say? Not a problem. By using Classcraft in your classroom, you are working to instill these interpersonal communication skills to your students. Classcraft’s unique teamwork and collaboration dynamic enables students to work with new people and create new interpersonal relationships through working with their teams. Teams are so important as they help to meet the third level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: belongingness.

My hypothesis is that Classcraft creates a “family” for these students.

This idea of working with new people and meeting needs for belongingness fits into a hypothesis of mine. Could Classcraft be the answer to reaching our “toughest students”? Can Classcraft work well with students of different socio-economic status or even race? While integrating Classcraft in my own classroom of students of all races and socio-economic statuses, I noticed a complete change. When traditional forms of classroom management would not work, Classcraft did. Why? What makes Classcraft work with these students?

My hypothesis is that Classcraft creates a “family” for these students. This “family” not only brings the students closer interpersonally but also fills voids in a student’s life or feeds into their natural instinct to protect their family. Research in African-American and Hispanic students tends to reflect a trend that these students are very family-oriented. One can conclude that by creating a “team” or “family” dynamic in the classroom, a teacher could see transformation in African-American and Hispanic populations.

When I used Classcraft last spring, I had students who hated me. These students were your average “tough kids,” but after selling the class on Classcraft, the students who hated me saw the game as a chance to help their “families” and to gain privileges and freedoms that they typically do not get in other classes. Class became a game of who can best help their “family,” the students began to bond, and my “toughest” class became my favorite class.

That is why I love Classcraft (and interpersonal communication)!

Share your ideas: How do you foster positive relationships in your classroom?

Roy R. Rodriguez is the Director of Forensics at A&M Consolidated High School in College Station, Texas. Roy is currently a Classcraft Ambassador and has been privileged to work with the Classcraft team since the initial 10-teacher beta. When he is not teaching public speaking, theatre, and debate, he enjoys playing “tackle” with his 3-year-old boy, Nate, and loving on his new baby girl, Dorothy.

Photo credit: Piotr Marcinski /

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