Preventative Management and Discipline, with Dr. John Gratto

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Great leadership must start with effective management, which can lead into preventative discipline, ultimately being more present to deal with issues before they become massive problems. In this blog post and podcast episode, I’m excited to collaborate with Dr. John Gratto, one of my former professors at Virginia Tech. John is a really smart and experienced school leader. He has a wealth of wisdom to share with us on this topic! Watch the full interview on YouTube. Listen to the podcast at the end of this post. 

Tips to Complete Big Projects (like dissertations!)

When you stay focused working every day, a few times a week, or on a regular basis in general, you spend less time trying to catch up and remember where you left off. Both in real terms, you can save time, but also in emotional well-being, you can ease stress. Trying to finish really challenging projects means that we should take every advantage we can get and focus on doing one thing to move us forward every day. Find new routines that give you these regular opportunities and you’ll be amazed how far you can grow over time! And like Dr. Gratto stated in the podcast, “Intelligence is second to persistence.”

Preventative Discipline

Dr. Gratto and I discussed the need for administrators and teachers to rethink prevention and management of situations more than reactions to individual problems. While we do have to address behavioral issues and take them seriously, we can be more impactful by getting out in front of potential disciplinary behaviors before they begin disrupting class or the school.

Identify & Target Behavioral Patterns or Trends. To do this, leaders should use data on where kids are misbehaving. This can be done based on location, such as specific classrooms or different parts of the building. They can also review times of day or review which staff seem to have more conflict than others. Trends don’t tell the entire story though, so be careful not to jump to conclusions.

If you see a trend, consider reaching out directly to work with that group of students. For instance, Dr. Gratto shared how he worked with bus drivers to create positive relationships with students on their bus and how he worked with the entire 5th grade group of students to practice lunch line behavior.

Being targeted both helps us be more efficient and preventative. When working with students individually, remember the impact that you personally can have IF the child believes you are there to help them be successful and not just give them a punishment.

Help provide time so students can self-regulate and diffuse before then talking about what happened. As Dr. Gratto stated, consider the opportunity that you have to help kids make better decisions, but also the unique opportunity that you have to provide additional resources and support academically. There is an interrelated relationship between academic and behavioral success, so a powerful strategy to reduce misbehavior is to provide extra interventions to build academic confidence and forward momentum.

Learn more about Dr. John Gratto!

John served as physical education teacher, athletic director, K-12 principal, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, and 23 years as a Superintendent of Schools in school districts in New York State ranging from 450 to 4500 students. Since 2012, he has served as an Associate Professor in the Educational Leadership program at Virginia Tech and has his doctorate in Education Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City.

He has also served as a Member of the New York State Education Commissioner’s Advisory Council, a Blue Ribbon School Review Panelist for New York State Elementary Schools, President of the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference, and Executive Secretary of the Essex County School Boards Association. John served as the President of the Virginia Professors of Educational Leadership and is a Superintendent of Schools search consultant. John was also recently awarded a U.S. Fulbright Scholar Award and in the fall 2021 semester, he will teach at the University of Zadar in Croatia.

John has authored a number of articles around the topics of helping principals, teachers, and students to be successful, Board of Education/ Superintendent relationships, wellness actions for administrators, and strategies to gain support for school budgets.

His first book, “Inside the Schoolhouse: What Great Principals Know and Do” was published in May of 2021. Click here at learn more on Amazon. Read through excerpts of the book on Google by clicking here.  Reach out to John via email at 

Podcast Episode

Listen now to the accompanying podcast episode on your favorite podcast listening site or below using the embedded app. 

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