Classroom Management: The "Refocus Form" - EB Academics

Grab Your Free Writing Guide

Become an EB Insider Today

Classroom Management: The “Refocus Form”

October 22, 2016 3 min read

As much as I would love to take credit for this brilliant idea, it was first introduced to me by the 4th grade teacher at our school. And I have to say, it is one of my favorite behavior management strategies! It’s simple and it’s effective – what more can you ask for!

Here how it works:
  • A student begins to participate in off-task behavior (talking while they’re not supposed to, passing a note in class, messing around while in group work, etc.).
  • I walk over to said students and say in a nice, quiet voice, “You know, Max, you’re off task right now, and I think you need to go fill out a Refocus Form.” 
  • Max walks over to the back of the classroom where the Refocus Forms are located, he sits at the back table, completes the refocus form, and then resumes whatever class activity he was participating in. 
    • *Of course this whole process is explicitly taught at the beginning of the year when we review all of our classroom policies and procedures. So students know exactly what they are supposed to do. 
  • At the end of the day, I go through the Refocus Forms (which I have only given out 8 this entire school year), and I either email the parents to let them know what happened, or I share the information through Class Dojo

The Refocus Form asks the students to finish three sentence starters that help them reflect on their behavior and what they could do differently in the future:

I was asked to refocus because I …
Instead, I could have …
In the future, I will …

Allowing students the opportunity to reflect on their behavior is hugely helpful for them! I even know some adults who could benefit from the Refocus Form 😉 I also love that the Refocus Form provides you with a written version of the events in the classroom from the student’s perspective because you can use these when you have parent-teacher conferences to help both the parents and the students see what type of behavior is happening in class. This way, everyone can work together to create a positive learning experience for that specific child.

Another part of the Refocus Form that I love is that because students are writing and reflecting themselves, without any prompting from their teacher, it’s possible you might get some insight into what your student is really struggling with that may have lead to that behavior (i.e., maybe they didn’t get breakfast that morning, or they’re worried about where they’re going to sleep tonight). Now that you’re aware of some of the other struggles your students face, you’re much more equipped with knowledge to help them be successful in your classroom.

CLICK HERE to grab your free refocus forms and start using this strategy in your classroom right away!

What are some of the classroom management strategies you use? We’d love to know – send us an email at or leave a comment below!

Want to save this post for later? Just pin the image below!

All posts


  • Garden Full of Knowledge October 30, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    What a fabulous concept! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Laurie W July 24, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    Will your be using this in your new 8th grade classroom?

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



    Hi there! We're two middle school ELA teachers with a mission to share ideas, tips, and tricks for effectively teaching reading and writing in the secondary classroom. We're so happy you stopped by!

    Caitlin + Jessica

    Your 15 Free Resources Are Waiting!

    Immediately receive access to our
    Free Resource Library

    We promise we won't spam you.

    Let’s Connect

    Popular Posts

    Our Latest Posts



    • Let me know in the comments which camp you’re in?⁣
Holiday music right after Halloween!! 🎄 ⁣
Or ... You’re crazy, it’s WAY too early to start listening to holiday music! 😱⁣
Well, I used to be the latter, but the other day “White Christmas” came on, and I just decided to FULLY embrace the holidays early this year 😂 Oh well!⁣
With that being said, this Gingerbread House for Sale Descriptive Writing Activity is an AMAZING resource for your middle schoolers to dive into right before the break!⁣
Things are INSANE this time of year and kids need something that is engaging and fun, yet highly rigorous and academic 🎄 That’s exactly what this resource is! ✅ ⁣
Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to DM you the link! Or you can visit the link in our profile as well 😘⁣
And if you already have and have used this resource in the past, I would LOVE to know that as well!!⁣
Hope you all are having a restful Sunday ♥️
    • One of the biggest mistakes we can make as writing teachers is requiring our students to start their essays with a HOOK. 
With this strategy, students gets STUCK on that first sentence before they can even get a chance to get to the heart of their paper! They end up wasting tons of precious writing time trying to come up with an interesting hook that oftentimes is a stretch. 
Instead, we want to give our students a CLEAR roadmap to begin their essays. One that will give them confidence in their abilities from the get go. One that allows them to quickly move into the meat of their critical analysis, so they can truly show us what they've learned. 
If you've ever taught hook and are ready to try a new, counterintuitive approach that WORKS and gives your students RESULTS, this episode is a MUST listen. 
Head over here to give it a listen -->
    • Double tap if you agree ♥️♥️⁣
And if you need to call in sick to take a mental health day for yourself. DO IT. Take a day off and go get a pedicure, or go shopping, or go workout!⁣
Do whatever you need to do to get to the place of your best self. ⁣
I used to work with a teacher who took a mental health day every month. It was when I first started teaching, and I didn’t get it. Why was she doing that?⁣
Well, fast forward to a decade in the classroom later, and now I truly see the value and importance of doing that! ⁣
I know you hear it all the time, but let it sink in ...⁣
You need to do what’s best for YOU and take care of yourself first. If we aren’t operating from our best selves, then we’re not able to serve anyone the way that we’re capable of. ⁣
On another note, hope you all enjoyed that extra hour of sleep last night! And if you have young children, I can commiserate. My little guy woke up at 6:30 😂😭🤦🏼‍♀️📸 @dumbosteiner
    • Get a quick listen into this week’s podcast episode all about hooking your students into literary analysis writing! We have a free download for you to give you a quick WIN in the classroom. Listen to the rest of the episode and get the free download here ->
    • We get A LOT of questions about classroom management and what to do when your kids are out of control or just not listening. ⁣
This is worth a read. So keep scrolling down!⁣
I’ll briefly share some of my thoughts on this (although I would like to do a whole podcast episode about it) ...⁣
1. You need to clearly communicate your expectations. Always. (Just as this picture shows.)⁣
2. Have a system in place that you use CONSISTENTLY. Consistency is key with anything, but especially when it comes to your rules, policies, and procedures. ⁣
3. Never, ever yell at your students. Ever. Period. ⁣
4. Come from a place of understanding and compassion. ⁣
5. Take a moment to have a conversation with individual students after class. Ask them what’s going on and what you can do to help them. Don’t yell at them or make them feel bad. Come from a place of kindness and compassion. If you haven’t tried this approach before, I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the conversation. ⁣
6. Show your students the same amount of respect you expect from them. ⁣
7. You are the ultimate role model for behavior in your classroom. If you’re yelling or emotionally out of control when handling a situation, think about what that might be saying to your students ...⁣
Now I KNOW this is HARD, and yes, we make mistakes. And yes, not all of this works all of the time. ⁣
But what I can tell you is that these practices have been embedded into everything I’ve always done as a teacher, and I very rarely had behavior issues in any of my classrooms (classrooms in a wide range of ages, places, etc). ⁣
What else would you add? A practice that you’ve used year after year that has created a positive and kind classroom culture. Please feel free to share in the comments. I would love to read them ♥️
    • Jessica and I have a present for you ... coming on December 29th! Lol ... we know it’s quite a ways away, but we are already hard at work getting together another amazing online training for YOU! ⁣
So, first MARK YOUR CALENDAR for December 29th! ⁣
Then, let us know in the comments (or shoot us a DM) what is your biggest frustration when it comes to teaching writing? What do you absolutely HATE about it? The thing that makes your skin crawl. ⁣
Yes, tell us!⁣
I’ll share what mine used to be first ...⁣
The utter and insane frustration of my students making the same mistakes time and time again even though we’d covered that specific skill what seemed like a million times before. That was unbelievably difficult for me! ⁣
Your turn 👇🏼

    Follow @ebacademics