REVIEW: #87 1-2-3 Magic for Teachers


Reading time: 4 – 7 minutes

Title: 1-2-3 Magic for Teachers
Author: Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D. & Sarah Janr Schonour, M.A.
ISBN: 9781889140179
Pages: 224
Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: (Taken from back of book) Many teachers receive little or no formal training in classroom discipline and classroom management. Yet experienced educators will tell you if challenging student behaviors go unchecked, the entire year can be disrupted. Based on the best-selling and extremely popular 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12, 1-2-3 Magic for Teachers explains in a straightforward language exactly how teachers can establish and maintain reasonable control of their classrooms.

Review: I have not taught kindergarten (or any grade at all) in almost 3 years; not since the birth of my first daughter, one of my favorite things about teaching was taking my 5 year olds and giving them order. I liked that they knew what to expect, almost as if they were set on automatic. In order to assure your classroom can run efficiently in your absense, it is important that a great classroom rules, procedure, and routine is set up right away.

1-2-3 Magic for Teachers is not like other discipline books. It is very user friendly without the sense of boredom that other books on discipline have been known to have. It does not talk down to the reader, nor does it fill the pages with an overuse of impressive vocabulary. Reading it is like seeking the advice of a veteran teacher over morning coffee and a bagel.

123-magic-coverThe theory is around a 1-2-3 principal for stopping difficult behaviors and starting desired behaviors. We are also introduced to examples of popular discipline mistakes, something I have seen others do in their classrooms and/or their homes.

Part 2 and 3 revolves around managing difficult behaviors; behaviors such as peer conflicts, pouting, and trims. The author then goes on to explain the testing period, briefly, in preparation for those that are on the more difficult side than most.

Positive reinforcement is encouraged and I can say by experience that it is a must in every classroom, even if you are teaching adults. Everyone needs to know that something they have done does not go unrecognized. Reinforcing positive behaviors breeds more positive behaviors.

Like any teacher, not every scenario is by the book. How do you follow through with discipline while in the hallway, or outside, at lunch, or on a field trip? I’m sure you’ve heard or used the phrase, “Just wait until your father gets home!” in your household, but just how effective is it delaying behavioral feedback. The authors of 1-2-3 Magic for Teachers tells you exactly how to implement the behavioral strategies outside the comfort of your classroom.

It doesn’t stop there, however. We are given advice on developing relationships with our students that will foster good behavior. We learn about self esteem, fun, forgiveness, active listenig, and working as a team with their parents.

Part 7 discusses how you can impliment 1-2-3 Magic in preschools, daycares, junior, and senior high, as well as with special needs students.

I really feel that the authors did a great job at covering the bases with a variety of students that educators may come in contact with. The book is a quick read with a multitude of great advice and tips. Reading through it made me realize just how much I miss teaching. I really want to read their other book now so I can start implementing proper behavioral feedback with my 2.5 year old that is both consistent and positive.

If you would prefer to gain additional help with the 1-2-3 Magic concept, there is also a DVD available for more visual learners. On the DVD you can decide to either play the full presentation, choose your own topic, or look at the DVDs additional resources.

Not to give too much away (you’ll have to watch the DVD for yourself) I’ll go on to explain one of the sub topics of the DVD that you can choose from. I chose the etioic, “Step 2: Encouraging good behavior.” This specific sub topic runs about 19 minutes in length and has it’s own set of sub topics including praise, simple requests, charting, to name a few. You can click on “play all” or you can choose one of interest. I chose the “charting” topic. The video shows us examples of charting, complimentary with snippet interviews with teachers who implement these tactics in the classroom.

The DVD is an excellent supporting piece to the book and is perfect if you want to physically see examples and/or see the method in action prior to starting it in your own classroom.

I really recommend this book to any teacher. It would make great beginning of the year gift for a teacher you know, as well.


  1. Sorilla says

    Thanks Allison for your review! Going to buy this book for my friend who is a principal at school 😉 . Ah, maybe DVD also as she is “visual” for sure.

  2. Virginia says

    I may get a copy this book and DVD for my girlfriend. Although she is not a kindergarten teacher, she has small children and so does her sister. Although the home is large, with all the children it feels like a kindergarten classroom! I think the tips on the book and the DVD may be useful to out family

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