Behind the Schoolhouse Door: When My 5th Grader Got Detention, I Sent His Teacher This Book

In last week’s video blog I talked about Dr. Glenn Latham and his awesome book positive parenting written in 1990 which has helped me an other parents with both kids with and without special needs. This week I want to tell you about another book by Dr. Glenn Latham called Behind the Schoolhouse Door: Eight Skills Every Teacher Should Have.

This short book was written in 1997 and it’s actually available for free download.

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So as you probably know, I’m the mom of two young adults. Lucas just turned 21 and has moderate to severe autism and Spencer is 19 and a sophomore in college. Most of my video blogs since starting in January 2017 revolve around Lucas and autism. But I want to tell you a little story about Spencer now. Spencer is typically developing (whatever that means) and has always been advanced in terms of language, cognitive ability, and social skills.

When he was in fifth grade we came home and told me that he and a handful of boys started laughing about something while in library class all got detention and couldn’t go out for recess. They also spent the second half of the library class needing to put their heads down on the desk. If you’re a parent you’ve probably experienced similar issues at some point in your life.

But to me listening to the whole story (which I have since forgotten), it sounded like the library teacher did not understand basic principles of positive reinforcement for how to actively engage a classroom full of fifth-graders. So instead of letting it go I decided to send the library teacher as well as the homeroom teacher and principal an email telling them all that I did not appreciate wasted library time or detention for my fifth grader who was typically developing. Basically I was working so hard trying to teach Lucas I’m working with the school staff to get his needs met but I didn’t want teachers to be implementing bad practices such as coercion and timeout and messing up Spencer.

As an attachment to an email I am included Glenn Latham’s Behind the Schoolhouse Door: Eight Skills Every Teacher Should Have. This is only a 20-page book and highlights eight main skills including:

  1. teaching expectations
  2. keeping students on task
  3. maintaining a high rate of positive teacher pupil interactions, and
  4. the ability to manage behavior scientifically.

At the end of the email I requested that all of Spencer’s teachers read Behind the Schoolhouse Door and that if there was any detention given for any mis-behavior in the future I wanted to be notified. I think I got an email or two in response thanking me for my concern and for the book. I’m not sure if anyone ever read the book though but Spencer never got sent to detention again.

Even if you’re a parent and not a teacher I would download Behind the Schoolhouse Door for free using the link right below this video and if you’re watching this video anywhere other than, hop on over there so you can download the book. It saddens me that this book is two decades old and it’s free yet so few teachers have read this book and most importantly, most teachers do not handle behavior scientifically.

I hope you have a great week and don’t forget to download your free copy of Doctor Latham’s book Behind the Schoolhouse Door.