Running the Room

20th September 2022

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Greetings from Dublin, Ireland! 

Book of the Month

Running the Room: The Teacher’s Guide to Behaviour, by Tom Bennett. This book is a masterpiece of specific advice about how to handle a classroom, written by a former nightclub manager turned teacher who has become one of the world’s leading experts on classroom management. It’s virtually impossible to summarize the many pithy insights of this extraordinary book, but this snippet gives a sense of the approach:

 “I once saw behaviour deteriorate from excellent to terrible in a matter of a few weeks. The school had a challenging demographic, but the behaviour was good because the senior staff led a team of motivated teachers in a rigorous way. Then along came a new head, whose first words to the students were, ‘I want you to see me as a friend,’ and ‘I will always give you another chance.’ Within a week, the most ambitious of students had tested his word and found that he would indeed permit anything as long as they thought he was a nice guy. Within a second week, the change in behaviour was palpable. A month later, with little support, teachers started to give up. The school went into a terminal nose spin. But it was OK: the school head moved on after a few years to another school, and no one was hurt apart from thousands of children who had their futures shredded by naivety, incompetence and the fairy tales we tell ourselves to feel good.”

Tom’s book, along with his company’s training, provides critical information that should be taught in every pedagogical program:

  • How to deal with students who are late
  • What are the best ways to work with parents?
  • Managing cover lessons successfully
  • How to tame smartphones
  • The best way to design a seating plan
  • How to start the lesson for the first time
  • Dealing with low-level disruption
  • Getting the class quiet when you – and they – need it most

Whatever your approach to teaching (or parenting), you will almost certainly benefit from this book. A bonus is that Tom is a funny, insightful writeryou’ll enjoy even as you are learning.

Barb’s ‘round the world travels (face-to-face unless otherwise noted) 

Barb will be in Europe and Asia speaking for a variety of private and public institutions over these next two monthstake a look and see if she will be travelling or speaking near you!

  • September 24, Dublin, Ireland, opening keynote for the ResearchEd conference. (Sorry, this one’s already packed, with a waitlist to get in.)
  • September 27, Svalbard (Spitzbergen) Norway, Longyearbyen Skole (the world’s northernmost school); if you’re in Svalbard, Kirkenes, or Oslo, contact Barb at
  • October 2, Kirkenes, Norway
  • October 3-8 Oslo
  • October 9-11 Amsterdam
  • October 15 Tokyo Books Kinokuniya Tokyo, Japan 
  • October 18-25 Bangkok (speaking on behalf of Siam Commercial Bank; for more information, please contact Nisha Nipasuwan,
  • October 19 Ministry of Finance Learning Week of the Republic of Indonesia (webinar); (for more information, contact Okto Sulaeman of the Ministry of Finance).
  • October 26-November 2 Kathmandu, Nepal (hosted by Tergar Oseling Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal. Translation into Tibetan will be provided; for more information please contact
  • November 3-5 Delhi, India (speaking on behalf of Coursera, for more information contact Manisha Vasdev, )
  • November 7 Singapore (extended workshop at NTU, for more information contact Dr Sally Siew Hiang Ng,
  • November 9 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (speaking on behalf of ETS Data Publishing and Coursera at leading Vietnamese universities and companies, for more information contact Albus D Hoang 
  • November 11-14 Hanoi, Vietnam (speaking on behalf of ETS Data Publishing and Coursera at leading Vietnamese universities and companies, for more information contact Albus D Hoang 
  • November 15 Mankassar University, Indonesia (webinar); (for more information, contact Sulfikar Sulfikar,
  • December 20, Defense Language Institute, Monterey, California (webinar); (for more information, contact Jon Phillips,  R FAC (CIV)
  • In-person talks to come next spring at Karolinska Institutet and Dalarna University in Sweden and in universities in Finland (for more information, contact Ann Rudman; Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (headlining again for the indomitable ResearchEd; for more information, contact Paul W Bennett,; Reedley, California  for more information, contact Deb Borofka; and more!

Creating a Revolutionary Academic Program

Here is a terrific article by Umakishore Ramachandran and Zvi Galil about how the extraordinary low-cost, high value Georgia Tech Online Master’s in Computer Science (OMSCS) program was created relying on massive open online course (MOOC) technology. By relating their experiences—discussing the creative solutions they found as well as describing how they overcame challenges, Umakishore and Zvi hope to help colleagues and peers embarking on similar endeavors.

The 4 things it takes to be an expert

This is a wonderful analysis of what it takes to acquire expertiseand why so many experts perform in an unexpectedly poor way. This is one of the coolest videos we’ve seen on the vital importance of deliberate practice! [Hat tip, Adam Trybus.]

Better learning is today’s competitive advantage

This podcast interview with host Bill Ringle and Barb explores how the Pomodoro Technique can be usedand misused.  Enjoy!

A first blog post

Here’s a wonderful perspective by Elizabeth Templeman on Uncommon Sense Teaching, the book.  Key graf: “I should mention that learning about learning is central to my role, coordinating Supplemental Learning, and to guiding my amazing team of student leaders so that they can, in turn, guide hundreds of students, through their SL sessions, to learn more strategically and effectively. I only wish I’d known even a fraction of this when I was a student myself, many years ago, but it’s never too late to learn more about ourselves and how we perceive and process the world around us.

Next 3 years, I will be…

This is a wonderful blog post by an aspiring young man, Si Thu Khant, in Myanmar.   ‘…during the past few years, I’ve aimed to become a highly productive person. I created all the guidelines for an effective productive person and watched all the channels on YouTube that focused on productivity. I set up my daily life using all of the productivity applications. NONE OF IT WORKED FOR ME. I don’t know why, but I believe it is because my soul doesn’t desire the ordered things.” 

The world needs more such creative, independent thinkers. If you like Si Thu’s writing, feel free to reach out and let him know.  You could end up changing a life.

Lengthy Podcast for Parents with Lydia El Khouri and Barb

This extended interview contains some of the best questions Barb has ever been asked related to learning. Lydia El Khouri’s perceptive questioning brings out great insights related to learning that can be extraordinarily helpful for you as a parent.

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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