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Classroom Dynamics

Practical Strategies for Addressing Off-Task Behavior and Creating Positive Classrooms

Explore practical techniques for confronting a range of issues, from addressing low-level off-task behavior in a positive way to the more serious challenge of pivoting around arguments and de-escalating conflict. Learn how to identify the driving factors behind off-task behavior and tailor your response to each student.


  • Benefit from numerous strategies for dealing with and even avoiding off-task behavior
  • Receive concrete tips to try immediately in classrooms
  • Survey the best research about student behavior and engagement
  • Learn how to quickly get to the heart of issues that might be affecting student learning
  • Understand the reasons behind disruptive behavior to better differentiate strategies for individual students

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Part 1: Dealing With Off-Task Behavior: Practical Strategies
Chapter 1: Using Low-Key Interventions
Chapter 2: Giving Explicit Instructions
Chapter 3: Pivoting
Chapter 4: Talking It Out
Chapter 5: Seeking Support
Part 2: Understanding Entrenched Off-Task Behavior
Chapter 6: Discerning the Purpose of Off-Task Behavior
Chapter 7: Tailoring Interventions for Individual Student Needs
Part 3: Avoiding Off-Task Behavior
Chapter 8: Setting Up Transitions and Procedures
Chapter 9: Establishing Student Engagement
Chapter 10: Enhancing Student Engagement
Appendix: Break Glass in Case of Emergency Learning Games




  • Saunders, E. (2023). Stick the learning: Brain-based teaching techniques to increase retention, application, and transfer. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.