Here are a few stories taken from Gib’s book, “Disrupting the Disruptor” published in 2003.


Any contact will do. Young People would rather be beaten than ignored!

• Hi Fives
• Handshake
• Don’t wake the baby
• Mark the bottom of each shoe
• Touch the elbow, the foot, not the shoulder
• Glad you could make it


Corral the Coyotes

Woofing is much harder than it sounds. I realized you can’t woof and do the last minute things that I usually do right before school starts.  You really need to just woof period.  Woofing didn’t seem to have as much effect if l tried to do it while writing something on the board.  It gives me a real incentive to be organized for the day before the first kid walks in the front door of the school. I’m working on that.

I started woofing the first day. It seemed to have an effect on all the students. The “good kids” seemed more calm, ready to start the next activity or be generally more on task. It didn’t take that much time or effort with them, especially considering the benefits it paid.  The others took a little more time.  I had to consciously take the effort to woof, figure out how to woof them more than the one for everybody, and to realize that one or even three woofs just does not cut it.

The easiest change I made was to put all the disruptors in one area. For years I had spread them out, putting them next to my desk, etc. The first day with them all in one area was the quietest, most on task day we have had in ages. One of them came back from being absent (hallelujah) for two days and kept asking, ‘Why are those four all together?”  For some reason he chose not to realize that he was next to the mysterious four. He seemed to be genuinely puzzled.

I’ve been teaching the majority of the lessons from that particular comer of the world for two weeks. It makes it easier to woof them since I am always right there, able to touch or say something only they can hear.

It was a wonderful release to say, “I don’t know” whenever I didn’t want to get caught into one of those conversations that go round and round with never an end in sight other than interrupting the flow of the lesson.  “Oh” seems to be a real conversation stopper, too.

With Career Day and conferences coming next week, it is hard to tell if I have more energy at the end of the day.  Compared to how I might be feeling, maybe I do. I have put up little “woof ‘ signs around in spots that I have a tendency to look at often (clock, plan book, coffee cup, etc.) These remind me it is time to woof someone again in case I have stopped.

Comment:  Conventional wisdom has it that you separate the disruptors, one in each corner.  Then you have a crisscross of coyote-like yapping.  She has them close at hand for extra bumping.  The time span is two weeks.  It’s too soon for them to be asking to join the community.  They will!

Nasty Person Rents Space in My Mind

I am hosting a student teacher this semester and she has the classroom 100 percent of the time. I have not had an opportunity to spoof/woof my students since I don’t see them. However, there is a teacher in my building who zaps the energy right out of me. She is overbearing, obnoxious and terribly pessimistic. Whenever I see her, my heart starts racing anticipating a confrontation or a stab in the back and I can’t look her in the eye. I am awake at night thinking of how she has made my life (and that of my husband, because I am constantly complaining about her behavior toward the students and staff) miserable. I dread seeing her in the hall and at meetings. Do you get the picture?
After the first weekend of class when I realized that I couldn’t woof/spoof students, I decided to woof her. I wanted to keep her from taking my precious energy. Every time I saw her in the hall, I forced myself to look her in the eye, smile and wish her a great day. It was very difficult at first because I always felt inferior to her, but now it is easier and when she rips one of my ideas apart, I calmly tell her, “Thank you for your suggestion. I will consider it. Have a wonderful day.” Of course, I don’t consider it at all, but now she doesn’t suck me dry of my energy. Nasty people should not rent space in our minds and thanks to you; I have found a way to always keep the space “occupied” and unavailable to her.

Comment:  She woofed the first strike by “looking her in the eye.”

Adult disruptors sometimes can make life more miserable than kid disruptors. I love the phrase, “should not rent space in our minds.”



Utter Nonsense Makes Perfect Sense





Woof Before You Spoof!



Closing the Distance

Closing the Distance is so like the sheep dog behavior. The sheep dog circles the flock, nipping at, but never biting the straying sheep.

Spent a day sitting on a Major Drainer’s (MD) desk, tapping, strumming, humming, bumping, etc. MD has never worked in class. Other students beg not to have to work with him. By the end of the day other students were pulling him into the group. And he: “Mrs. T, I’m really having a hard time getting my work done. Could you please go play on the computer or something?” And … he worked. MD also said he planned on getting all of his makeup done so he could go to recess (something he dislikes) just so he could “get a break from (me).” MD added, “I don’t mean that in a bad way, Mrs. T, I just need to get away from you for a while.”

At the end of the day a Y.P. approached me: “Mrs. T, what’s wrong with you this week? I mean, you seem happier or something.
“Thanks for the shot, Doctor! I’m looking forward to your next Spokane session.

Comment: By sitting on MD ‘s desk MD can save face. His buddies might say, “You quit making noise huh? Sucking up huh? MD can save face by saying, “Just try having her sit on your desk making a racket and see how it feels.”
This teacher could not have closed the distance any closer!

Write me a Letter

I teach sixth grade in a Middle School. I have been mildly woofing my classes. As the students come in and out of my classroom, I greet each student by name and barely touch their elbow or shoulder. After several days of this I have noticed the students, in general, are friendlier towards me.
About half of them now make a point of saying good-bye and saying my name either on the way in or out of class. Several greet me in the hallway by name also. Greeting adults is not the norm here, and I have found this to be a refreshing change.
Another change concerns THE BATHROOM. The afternoon block class would be a steady stream to the bathroom if I allowed it. The constant requests were disruptive and truly worried me. I have tried several systems and none seemed to fit this particular group. (I understood their need, because the class is about thirty minutes after lunch, but on the other hand, most of them admit to never using the bathroom during snack break or lunch.) I tried sending them early just before they asked but there were too many for that to work effectively.
One day, when the first student asked to go to the bathroom, I heard myself saying, “Write me a letter”. That person did so and was excused to the bathroom. There was a flurry of letters after that. There was confusion. Why did some get excused and some did not? Word got out. It must be in correct letter form, with my name spelled correctly. (My first name is Mrs. believe ME I earned it!!)
I now have a bathroom letter file, living proof that some students who never write, actually can. The requests started dribbling off after a few days.
In a society where children are not only sleep deprived, nutritionally deprived, outdoor activity deprived but also touch deprived, this poem means a lot to me.

Comment: “Write me a letter, send it by mail. Send it in care of Binningham jail” (a couple of lines from a country western). Some of the kids revealed their hand – they could write after all. She enclosed this beautiful poem for all to read.

The Human Touch

Tis the human touch in this world that counts,
The touch of your hand or mine,
Which means far more to the fainting heart
Than shelter and bread and wine;
For shelter is gone when the night is o’er,
And bread lasts only a day,
But the touch of the hand and the sound of the voice
Sing on in the soul alway.

                                          Spencer Michael Free