Level 3: The Guff Counter

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Some students will not respond right away to the Scoreboard Game. They want to get into a power struggle with the teacher. They want to have the last word.

As a teacher you are between a rock and a hard place. You cannot let the rebel student win the struggle and allow the rest of the class to believe you will back down. You also cannot afford the battle of wills with the student. If you win, the student will be angry and hurt. If you lose your cool, it won’t matter whether you win or not, you will lose the respect of your class.

So, what do you do? You have a huge advantage over the trouble making student. You can remove his or her peer support

The disrespectful student is counting on the silent backing of the class.  In fact, without silent support, rebellious behavior cannot easily be sustained.

The answer is that you must eliminate silent peer support. The answer is the GUFF COUNTER.

Don't use the Guff Counter until the Scoreboard has been in place for at least a month.  You want students to become used to the Mighty Oh Yeah, the Mighty Groan and losing or gaining points one at a time.  This will make the Guff Counter powerfully effective because, as you will see, points can suddenly be lost by the handful!

Then, when you have a excellent outburst of back talk, look at the class with a puzzled expression. Thank the back talker with a smile.

“Thank you, Buford (or whatever the student’s name is),” you grin.

‘You reminded me of a really important part of the Scoreboard Game that I left out. Every so often someone will want to get in the last word, like you just did. But that isn't following our rules, especially Rule 5:  Keep your dear teacher happy!"

“On the Scoreboard Game that sort of thing gets scored differently.”

At this point, add a new level below the main scoreboard, and on the Teacher side, write in GUFF.

“See the thing is, Guff slows everything down.  Buford, I am going to use you as a a teaching partner, since you helped me remember this.”

Saying this, elevates the kid’s status from a violator, to someone helping the teacher with an important point. Now, the student will not be likely to have hurt feelings.

“Buford, when I say ‘Buford please stop talking,’ please answer ‘I wasn’t talking!’

Thank Buford after he follows your direction.

Next, explain what is going on. “Students, when a student talks back to a teacher, the student is expecting to receive silent support from the rest of the class. They want to be the center of attention, but we can’t allow that. It takes your focus away from learning and takes away from the time you have to beat me in the game!”

“So the way we score this works like this- Buford, give me that line again,”

Buford repeats. “I wasn’t talking!”

“When that happens I am going to say ‘You know, that sounded to me like GUFF!’ and I am going to do this ...”

You repeat Bufford's words, “I wasn’t talking," holding up one finger for each word. Then make three marks on your side of the Scoreboard under the words GUFF.  Your students will gasp in horror.  Three marks!

“Ladies and gentlemen, that would almost certainly lose the game for you.  You might say, you did not do anything to earn me those points, but I take your silence as support for the guffer. However, if you do not want those un-earned points I'll show you exactly what to do.”

Pause dramatically.

“When I pick up my marker and say ‘that sounds like GUFF to me!’hold your hand out, palm up toward the guffer and say loudly ‘Please stop!!”

“If you do that before I make a mark under the Guff counter, that will show me you do not support backtalk, and you will not be penalized with Guff points. Does that sound fair?”

Grin as your students nod their heads.

“Remember that saying 'Please, stop!' you are playing for the Student Team. You will have done a procedure correctly and you will win a point on the Scoreboard.”

Next, give Bufford two more chances to guff you on purpose.  The first time, your class may hesitantly hold their hands toward him and say, "Please, stop!"

You respond, "Oh, that wasn't fast and loud enough!  That would certainly earn you Guff points.  Let's try again."

When Bufford repeats his guff the second time, he will be greeted by a loud, emphatic cry of "Please, stop!"

PLEASE UNDERSTAND- you NEVER actually award Guff points!  When you hear back talk, say, "That sounds like guff to me ... where is my marker."  This will cue your class to vigorously show the guffer he or she is all alone ... and, you will have the deep pleasure of feeling your class united behind you.

Here is the magic.  When the Guff Counter is added to the Scoreboard, incidents of disrespectful behavior become opportunities to reinforce your leadership!

(In one wondrous case, the Guff Counter proved so powerful that a notorious guffer held his hand in front of his own face and exclaimed, "Please, stop!")

When you finish your introduction to the Guff Counter, give the class one point for learning a new procedure, and another in Buford's honor for his help.

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