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I was very pleased to read about the emphasis being placed on reducing behavior problems and unwarranted suspensions in the San Diego Public Schools.

I am currently training and coaching teachers in the New York City public schools to recognize how their own behavior can effect the behavior of their students in a negative or positive way. I have found that most appropriate or inappropriate behavior is directly related to the teacher’s ability to “engage students” or “sustain engagement” of students in lessons. The second most common issue is the teacher’s ability to redirect inappropriate behavior once it occurs. The bottom line in my training is that engagement results in “prevention” of misbehavior.

After working in a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed boys, I will also add that the teacher’s ability to establish “trust” is of primary importance. This is particularly important if the teacher and student are of different races. The educational needs of boys is a small, yet growing area of research and one that deserves more attention in schools across the country.

Dr. Frances D. Meyer lives in Old Tappan, New Jersey, and is the teacher-trainer and coach for Ramapo for Children.

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