Friday, July 15, 2016

Book Interview

Teacher Writes Book about Classroom Management
by Jim Vail

My colleague and good friend Lazerrick Franklin has been a computer teacher, dean of discipline, technology consultant among many other roles while teaching in the Chicago Public Schools. He grew up on the West Side of the city and attended Crane High School. He recently wrote a book about classroom management called Franklin Classroom Management that can be found at His words as a parent, an instructor, a CPS graduate and more are inspiring and we are happy he got a moment to share this with our readers.

Teacher and Author Lazerrick Franklin

Can you tell us about your background. Where did you grow up and go to school?

I grew up in the projects on the Westside of Chicago in a single family home. I attended Chicago Public Schools, but I dropped out in my junior year.  By the age of 17, I had my first child. By the age of 21, I had a total of 4 children. After hitting many economic brick walls, I decided to go back to school where I later earned my G.E.D. By the age of 28, I got married and had 2 more children. Shortly after that, my wife and I both decided to go back to school and attain our bachelor degrees at the same. In fact, we graduated in the same month and year.

What was your experience with school?

I am entering my fifth school year as a Chicago Public School employee. Although I have worked at only one school, I have been in many different roles.

Below are the titles/positions I have been in or am currently a part of: 
·         Dean of Discipline (500+ students)
·         Special Education classroom assistant
·         Technology Coordinator / Computer Teacher (500+ students)

Below is a list of roles I have had or am currently a part of: 
·         Member of the new hiring team
·         Member of the administration team
·         Consultant for the culture and climate team
·         Provider of computer classes to students in grades K-8
·         Technical support to staff and administers the school website
·         Creator of a recess program
·         Member of the Incentive Program Club
·         After-school program supervisor (sports & clubs)
·         After-school program academic coordinator
·         School marketing coordinator
·         Student tech team supervisor
·         Dance D

What inspired you to write this book?

I was inspired to write this book for two reasons. One is because of the alarming fact that 50% of teachers quit teaching after the first couple of years due to students’ behavior issues and the lack of support from administrators. Second, although I was not in the dean of discipline role any more, teachers still sought my expertise when it came to student behavior and classroom management.

What was it like not growing up with a father?

Growing up without a father was bittersweet. It was bitter for many reasons, but the two I will mention is the fact that my siblings’ father was around and that I felt unprotected and afraid in my environment. Although my siblings’ father was not living with us, he was around often. He would always treat me like his own, but deep inside, it wasn’t the same because I knew he wasn’t my father. As I got older, I started to build a relationship with my father via phone. When it was time for us to start meeting in person, he died weeks before the meeting actually took place.

The sweet part is that sometimes having a father in the house can do more harm than good. In most cases just because a father is physically in the house does not mean he is spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and wholeheartedly in the house. By my father not being there, and me being the oldest son, I had to grow up quick. In doing so, I ran into a lot of dead ends, but I am a better man and father because of it.

What do you hope to accomplish as a father?

I hope to be a great father not only to my kids, but to my grand kids. Meaning, I hope to break generational curses in my family. I want to set a foundation so strong and powerful that it becomes tradition from here on out. At this point I have 5 teens and 2 toddlers and they are all on-track in school and are well behaved. Most importantly, they are all under my protection, spiritual leadership, and are mentally and emotionally secure in me.

What is the most important thing teachers should know about classroom management?

To read my book! LOLOLOL! Just kidding, but there so many things I believe teachers should know, but I will give you my top ten according to my book:

1.       If you can’t teach discipline, you can’t teach anything
2.       Teach kids how to be students first
3.       Students respond to rewards and/or consequences
4.       Although a school is a business, dealing with students is personal
5.       Know each student
6.       Learn how student talk
7.       Speak the language of the student
8.       Show students different emotions
9.       Learn your students’ background / living situation
10.   Always do what works best for students based on experience and data.

How should one deal with the really difficult student who doesn't want to listen?

There are many ways to deal with a difficult student. The goal is for a teacher to see which way will work for that student. I have learned that 50% of students with behavior issues behavior will stop and/or improve if one the parents is notified. Below is a 5 step system you can use:

1.       First get the parents involved
2.       Teach students the desired expectations
3.       Be firm with the consequences if students don’t meet the desired expectations
4.       Be consistent with the consequences if students don’t meet the desire expectations
5.       Reward students consistently who consistently meet expectations
6.       Build a relationship with the student so that student will think before he/she misbehaves because of the relationship you built with the student.

What are your future plans?

I am current writing a follow-up book called Franklin Classroom Management System: The Marriage of Punitive and Restorative. Unlike the first book, which focused on just the teacher’s classroom, this book focuses on school-wide behavior issues. I currently have speaking engagements at various universities to talk about my book. I hope to get my books into university bookstores as a required textbook for teachers’ classroom management class. I am also hoping to implement my classroom management system throughout the Chicago Public Schools District and hopefully in other urban school districts.

How difficult was it to write your book? How did you get it published? Did it cost a lot of money? If so, how much?

It is always difficult to do something for the first time that you have never done before. The key is to find someone who has done what you are trying to do. I had a total of 4 editors help with my book. I used a self-publishing company to help get my book out. A lot of new authors are self-published, so this is not rare if you are thinking of publishing a book. Because I am self-publish, I had to pay about $2,500 to the publishing company and about $1,500 to the editors.

Have there been many books written by CPS teachers about teaching classroom management?

This a great question that I do not know the answer to. However, I will do some research on the topic.

How are you promoting the book?

Because the book is fairly new, I am taking a slow approach to promoting it. My plan to promote the book to schools in the Chicagoland area this summer while the students are out of the building. I understand how hard it is to start a new classroom management system right in the middle or at the end of the school year. So my goal is to promote during the summer so schools can use the system at the beginning of next school year.

I am also promoting it through my speaking engagements to students who are enrolled in the college of education at different universities.

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