Post written by Rachel Syms, a native of Los Angeles who moved to Chicago to pursue a degree in journalism at Columbia College. She hopes to write for a magazine after graduation.
"How many of you, yourselves, were challenging, disruptive, or unmotivated back when you were in school?" That's the question Brian Mendler, adjunct professor at St. John Fisher College in New York, asked the room full of educators attending his 2013 ASCD Annual Conference session, "Motivate and Manage a Differentiated Classroom."
Mendler, author of The Taming of the Crew and coauthor of Strategies for Successful Classroom Management and Discipline with Dignity, admits that as a child he struggled with his disruptive behavior in the classroom and a severe learning disability that interfered with his reading capabilities. He says that he was able to get through school until the 4th grade, when faking it became a problem because of a difficult teacher he didn't get along with. Mendler says the teacher mocked him, called him lazy and unmotivated, and told him to try harder. After being labeled "emotionally disturbed" following a disagreement with the teacher, he was placed into self-contained special education for two years.