Book Review: Encouragement in the Classroom by Joan Young

I read Joan Young\’s excellent new book Encouragement in the Classroom: How do I help students stay positive and focused?  on the airplane to ISTE2014.

At first, I groaned at the title, thinking “not another feel good, impractical, hyperbole filled book of new age crap that I can read on #edchat!”


Nuance, research, and practical thoughts and advice permeate through-out this book. This book is an automatic gift to all my future student teachers!

Wait, stop…

I am going to try something different here. Instead of a typical  book review where I write three paragraphs of irrelevant background information about setting and context, I am just going to offer up some of the passages I highlighted on my Kindle. I am hoping these give you a glimpse into my mind and perhaps patterns will emerge.

The highlights listed below have caused me to think and wonder…I wish I could further elaborate on each quote, but I am finding the thoughts incomplete as I am still processing how I will integrate these concepts/thoughts into my own daily experience once summer is over.

I hope you will further provoke my thinking in the comments and we can dialogue back and forth…

Encouragement in the Classroom: How do I help students stay positive and focused? (ASCD Arias) by Joan Young Last annotated on June 26, 2014

If students did not have a particularly successful day, give them the opportunity to reflect further and decide on some action to take. Students can choose from a class-generated list of tips, available as a Google Drive document or a Padlet, for example, that usually help them concentrate or learn better. Read more at location 186

Challenge students to assess their focus skills by showing them the Invisible Gorilla video (Chabris &      Simons, 2010) on selective. Read more at location 194

Take a mindful walk. Read more at location 252

Teach the art of intention. Read more at location 258

Encourage students to write down their daily intentions and set alerts or reminders using timers or applications such as PhotoMind, Intend, or HiFutureSelf. Read more at location 263.

Consider designating a different theme for each day of the week. On Monday, students could engage in a “caption this” do-now that has them come up with a caption to an outrageous photo. Evoking awe is a great way to wake up the brain. Tuesday’s do-now could be a critical thinking and writing exercise in which students must evaluate whether a story is truth or fiction. Be creative. Observe which activities generate the most energy and engagement, and adjust the do-nows accordingly. Read more at location 293

Create a wonder wall. Wonder is a valuable asset to learning. When we wonder, we become. Read more at location 408.

f you need a boost to begin infusing your own classroom with wonder, visit Wonderopolis ( with your class and check out the site’s “wonder of the day.” Read more at location 417.

Maintain a “good news” folder and post the contents on a gratitude board.    Read more at location 443

I highly suggest you purchase  and support the wonderful work Joan Young has done with Encouragement in the Classroom: How do I help students stay positive and focused?