Prosser teacher's book offers ideas for dealing with disruptive students

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldSeptember 24, 2012 

Even after 34 years in a classroom, Rich Korb said he still gets excited when he is told a problematic student will be in one of his classes.

"When I see a tough kid walk into my room, I light up," said the Prosser High School history teacher.

Korb has dealt with a lot of disruptive kids through the years, giving him plenty of opportunity to develop the ideas in his book, Motivating Defiant & Disruptive Students To Learn.

The book is being sold nationally and will be part of the kick-off event for bookseller Barnes & Noble's local Teacher Appreciation Week activities in October.

Korb said he developed the ideas in his books throughout his teaching career, which included time as principal at Benton County Corrective Center for Juveniles. At the same time, he said he identifies with disruptive students because he was a troublesome youth, enjoying risky activity such as motocross and once having his driver's license taken away because of his driving habits.

"I had a wild hair," he said.

Korb refers to his approach in working with defiant students as positive classroom management. Yelling and berating difficult students doesn't make them want to comply, he said. Rather, he sets strict standards they need to abide by and rewards them for achieving goals. He also writes about getting to know students to better understand them and develop ways to engage them.

"I've not found a difficult kid I haven't been able to win over," he said.

Korb's book initially started in 2005 as a handbook he developed for the Bureau of Education & Research, a group focused on teacher development and training. He decided to self-publish it in 2010. It since has been picked up by the publishing house Corwin, which published a new edition early this year.

Corwin officials said Korb's book already has outsold two related titles it offers to educators, and the book has sold about 1,000 copies as of mid-September, mostly to school districts for training purposes.

"There is nothing more taxing on a teacher than basic classroom management, particularly when it involves the more disruptive kinds of situations or students who may detract from other students' learning or the impact of good instruction," said Lisa Shaw, Corwin's executive editorial director. "Thus, Rich Korb's book, which comprises strategies that have been fully classroom-tested, remains a timely yet timeless topic for new and experienced teachers alike."

Jerrica Fowler, spokeswoman for the Barnes & Noble at Columbia Center mall, said Korb's book isn't one the bookstore usually carries because of its specific audience, but it was a good fit for Teacher Appreciation Week, which will run from Oct. 13-21.

"It looked like a good book for us to tell teachers about," she said.

Korb said he has had a lot of feedback from teachers as well as media, and he has heard it may be incorporated into college classes for teachers at Central Washington University.

He said he has a pretty good class this year, though one student seems difficult to reach.

"We have him on the radar," Korb said.

-- Ty Beaver: 582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com

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