How To Ask Your Students For The Moon . . . And Get It

Smart Classroom Management: How to Ask Your Students For The Moon And Get ItRecently, a former student contacted me through the SCM Facebook page.

He was in my sixth-grade class almost 20 years ago.

I remembered him well.

In fact, although I didn’t use his real name, I mentioned him in Dream Class.

He was the tough but highly respected boy who escorted a blind student to the playground.

It was a special moment, one I’ll never forget.

While alluding to his sometimes difficult past, he talked about how happy he is and how his wife and young family mean everything to him.

I’m thrilled, of course, and proud of how well he’s doing.

After catching up with our current lives, it wasn’t long before he began telling stories of his year in my class.

He talked about how when each sixth-grade class was tasked with creating a presentation on ancient Greece, we did a musical spoof of the movie Grease (with leather-jacketed Danny Zuko as Socrates).

He talked about vanquishing other classrooms in capture-the-flag and math-game battles, and then celebrating back in the classroom like we’d won the World Cup.

He talked about the silly things I did in class—spilling water down my shirt, tripping over chairs, using this or that funny accent for a day.

He recalled that when the class was working independently on their math, I’d whistle the opening bars from the movie, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, and they would answer back in unison with a sing-songy “Dooooo youuuuur maaaaath.”

My recollections were that we worked extremely hard.

It was a large class in a difficult school, and I pushed them and pushed them. I challenged them on their behavior, their work habits, and their responsibilities—to their family, their classmates, and their future selves.

At the time, I remember thinking that I was asking too much of them. I remember thinking that if I wasn’t careful, I would lose them and their deep connection to the class.

I’ve since learned that as long as you create a classroom your students look forward to, you can’t ask for too much. You can’t have expectations that are too high.

Your students will rise to meet your high bar as long as they know you care enough to make it worth their while.

As long as you make your classroom an experience they enjoy being part of—better yet, love being part of—they will follow you to the ends of the earth.

And teaching will be the way you always imagined it could be.

My former student told story after story. He reminisced about friends and laughter and the closeness of that particular group in that moment in time. As if it were yesterday.

He never mentioned the lengthy independent work periods, the demand for flawless routines, or my neverending calls for excellence.

Because when a spirit of fun and humor are part of the fabric of your classroom, you can ask for more and for better every day of the week.

You can ask for the moon.

And they’ll give it to you.

PS – How to create the classroom described above is a central theme of all of our books, but will be broken down in simple detail in the new book, The Happy Teacher Habits.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, please join us. It’s free! Click here and begin receiving new-article updates in your email box every week.


22 Responses to How To Ask Your Students For The Moon . . . And Get It

  1. kim January 2, 2016 at 10:15 am #

    So where do we find the new book?????

    • Michael Linsin January 2, 2016 at 11:47 am #

      Hi Kim,

      It will be available in May from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.


  2. Frances January 2, 2016 at 10:29 am #

    I really like getting all this information.
    I reminisce on all that is said about the students ad what the students say about us.

    This type of information was not around when I was around.
    I went through “hard knocks” .
    I taught ESL as an assistant, as a teacher I taught a bilingual 3rd grade class and
    after retiring I Substituted for 12 years.
    My subbing was the hardest. Students would call me names, and stupid because
    was in their minds not a teacher…I need not go on because you know all of this.
    “I am just saying.”
    Good luck to all those teachers out there and I hope they get your messages.

    • Michael Linsin January 2, 2016 at 11:48 am #

      Thanks Frances!


  3. Christine January 2, 2016 at 11:31 am #

    What a great story!

    • Michael Linsin January 2, 2016 at 11:48 am #

      Thank you Christine!


  4. Anthony Butler January 2, 2016 at 11:44 am #

    Thank you for sharing this. It is so true that when you have a spirit of fun and humor in your room, it opens the door to so much more! When classrooms are well managed, great things happen beyond our comprehension. I can relate to this touching article as a student, former teacher, parent, and someone who serves in our schools today to help prevent violence. Keep up the great work Michael!


    • Michael Linsin January 2, 2016 at 11:49 am #

      Thanks Anthony. You too!


  5. Penny Lancaster January 2, 2016 at 11:58 am #

    I have “Classroom Management”, “The Classroom Management Secret”, and “Dream Class”. I cannot wait until to get a copy of “How to Ask You Students for the Moon….And Get It”. I have just signed up to get the updates by email. I am going to go search for “The Happy Teacher Habits” and add it to my collection of reference materials after I finished reading it. I am 51 years old and only in my 2nd year of teaching, so I look and soak up all the information and guidance I can find. Thank you for all you guidance so far.

    • Michael Linsin January 2, 2016 at 3:55 pm #

      Awesome, Penny. Way to go! 🙂 The Happy Teacher Habits won’t be available until May.


  6. Mann January 2, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

    Thanks for sharing. I go all the way to make my class interesting, although I’m tagged as one of the toughest teachers. I believe my students listen because they know I care about them despite my standards. Making classroom fun is the best part of teaching.

    • Michael Linsin January 2, 2016 at 3:56 pm #

      It’s my pleasure, Mann. Thanks for reading.


  7. Karen January 2, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

    I have been reading your articles and working on managing a 6th grade math classroom with behavior problems, kids with IEPs and no support. While the ELA teacher had 2 extra teachers in classroom with her. UGH!
    Now at winter break I was removed from classroom because admin. Did not think my classroom mgt style was effective and replaced me with new teacher. What do I say to my former students since I will be finishing out the school year at same school???

    • Michael Linsin January 2, 2016 at 4:00 pm #

      Hi Karen,

      I’m sorry to hear of the troubles you’re having. I hope the SCM website can provide some help. I wouldn’t say anything to them except the obvious, “I moved to a new class.”


  8. Srinivas January 2, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

    Nice reading this mail Michael…just yesterday, my high school teach John S. returned my Christmas SMS greet to him with a call on my mobile. And I recounted to him about the nice vibes students like me got from him. New year wishes to you and all…


    • Michael Linsin January 2, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

      Thanks Srinivas. I’m glad to hear you have such a good teacher. Happy New Year to you!


  9. Barbara Johnson January 2, 2016 at 4:55 pm #

    Really good information.

  10. ALDE January 3, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

    I used to be known as a fun teacher, 20 years ago, but, after taking a number of years off to raise my kids, I’m back and things have changed so much! It seems that kids only want to be on their phones and in their seats. (I teach high school) If I ask them to stand up for a game or activity, I get moans and complaints. I just don’t know how to make it fun for this generation of kids!

  11. ebenezer January 4, 2016 at 7:08 am #

    nice image.
    Happy new year Mr. Linsin and to your entire family. i believe your book will be very great. looking forward to it.

    • Michael Linsin January 4, 2016 at 7:48 am #

      Thanks Ebenezer! Happy New Year to you as well. 🙂


  12. Rachel January 10, 2016 at 5:23 pm #

    Beautiful! Thank you for always being inspiring, Michael! 🙂

    • Michael Linsin January 11, 2016 at 7:41 am #

      You’re welcome, Rachel!


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