Classroom Management: The "Refocus Form"

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!

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  1. What a fabulous concept! Thanks so much for sharing!

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

  3. This is total BS. Oooooh passing a note in class....what a criminal activity. I guess you will be telling me to fill out a REFOCUS FORM. I will tell you what I would tell my child to say to you....stick your REFOCUS FORM. Kids are not robots. I am sick and tired of kids being made to feel bad for just being kids and behaving like kids behave. A simple taking the child aside would be enough. This is an exercise in humiliation. Child abuse is what I call it.

    1. Wow. If a child is disrupting class, it is far more beneficial for the child in the long run to take a "time out" to reflect on their behavior, why their behavior was inappropriate for class, in order to improve on their own. I would much rather have my child quietly reflect on his behavior independently than be singled out by having the teacher take him aside in front of everyone to address his behavior. As a teacher myself, it is not always appropriate nor possible to address every single misbehavior with each student separately. Instead of being offensive toward the teacher, parents should be supportive of their child's teacher and recognize that they are there to educate to the best of their ability. There are 30 kids in a classroom, with one adult. Teachers need to be creative and do what works best in their classroom for their students. They don't need parents undermining their authority by ridiculing a discipline procedure, which in this case, makes complete sense and is very effective.