Chapter 19: The Guff Counter

Write a note to an administrator explaining why you believe the Guff Counter will be an effective classroom management technique.

Pages 124-129
Full credit: 25 WBT Certification Points
Partial credit: 10 WBT Certification Points


  1. Dear Mrs. Smith (principal),
    As you know, I attended a Whole Brain Teaching Conference in Louisiana this summer and I’m sure you could tell by my emails after I returned to Mississippi, that I am really excited about the strategies I learned. The tactics work for teaching academic skills and also for rewarding appropriate behaviors with positive reinforcement strategies. One of the main features of WBT is the Scoreboard, which has different levels (just like video games). Each classroom uses five basic rules or variations of them. Level 1 rewards the class with a tally under the Smiley for positive action by the group or individual and a tally under the Frownie for negative behaviors. An individual student is never singled out for negative behaviors but may be praised for helping the class add another tally mark to the Smiley side. Level 2 has levels for individual improvement in academics or behavior and Level 3 has Practice Cards for rules that individual students break habitually. Then there is Level 4…The Guff Counter. The Guff Counter is an amazing strategy. It is available for a teacher to use if a student or students act disrespectfully to their teacher or classmates. This behavior is called guff and the students are taught that when they hear the teacher exclaim, “That sounds like guff…where’s my marker?” they should put their hand up in front of themselves toward the student and say, “Please, stop”. The theory behind this strategy is that disrespectful students are fueled by attention from peers. If the teacher establishes a method for the class to join together to stand up against the guffer, she has separated the guffer from his audience and what fun is performing if no one is going to give you applause? Isn’t it brilliant? It’s a simple strategy that takes care of the problem in seconds and allows the teacher to continue teaching and the students to continue learning (even the guffer). I’m pumped about this strategy since it usually provides a win-win situation for everyone involved.


    Mrs. Lamb

    1. Kathy,
      Another good post! It would have been great to have more information on the Guff Counter, and not on the other levels, as that was the prompt's focus. Your explanation on Guff was brief but thorough. Here are 20 Certification Points for you!

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  3. Dear Dr. Cloud,

    I know you have enjoyed visiting my classroom and seeing the Whole Brain Learning techniques that my students were using. You noted that it was the best behavior some of these fifth graders had ever had! I am excited to share another Whole Brain behavior management technique with you that I will employ this year.

    We will again begin the year with the Scoreboard, marking smiles or frowns for whole class behavior. I will keep the points calculated (always making sure they stay close enough to keep them engaged) during the day. The students may ultimately gain a small reward if they “win” that day. After a few weeks, I will then introduce the Super Improvers Team. The students will be competing against themselves to make improvements academically and behaviorally to gain points (stars) to move up a leveled board. They will work to gain the status of Living Legend. This is a wonderful way to differentiate the reward system, allowing all students to have success since they are working to improve upon and exceed their own personal goals.

    Later in the year I will implement the Practice Card system. This system removes the card = punishment idea, and instead creates a method of practice and praise. The students will receive a white card when a rule needs to be reviewed (no more than two per day), and will be expected to practice that rule for two minutes at recess for each card received. They will also receive a note to take home and have signed, requesting parent assistance and at home practice. Then, later purple cards will be introduced. These are “wisdom” cards. The student will receive this card if they have a received a white card that day, but have shown improvement in that area later in the day. The purple card cancels out the white card. It is accompanied by a note home, praising the child for improvement. Then, a few weeks later, a green card will also be implemented. This card will be placed on a student’s desk to indicate that the student needs to practice the pictured rule. The student tallies his own progress that day on the card. If noted improvement is made, the student may receive a purple card and note of praise to take home.

    Even though these are all very effective behavior management tools, we know that the problem of disrespectful behavior, such as talking back, eye rolling, or groaning (guff) may still take place with some of the fifth graders. To address this, a fourth level of behavior management will be added. This is the Guff Counter. The Guff Counter basically divides rebel students from peer support. To do this, when I hear or see any guff from a student, I will stop and remark “That sounds like Guff, where is my marker?” The entire class will be told that they will receive a mark on the “Guff Counter” (negative side of the scoreboard, which decreases recess) if they do not respond immediately. The class response will be to hold their hand up and say “Please Stop!” This gains a point on the positive side of the scoreboard, gaining recess time if done quickly. They are directing this response at the offender. This addresses one of the major points of bad behavior. The challenging student usually feels stronger with the silent support of friends, but the Guff Counter removes the allies and turns them against the disruptive behavior as they vocalize “Please Stop!” The students are only allowed to do this when I prompt them.

    This level is a fast but effective way to help our class stay focused, and guff – free! It will also help reinforce the importance of respecting the teacher and the other classmates. I’m excited to begin these levels; I think they are going to help us have the best year yet!

    Thank you for your support,

    Ms. Shelton

    1. Michelle,
      Nice post on the effectiveness of the Guff Counter in a classroom. Establishing an atmosphere of respect is mandatory on so many levels! Here are 25 points!

  4. Dear Mr. Bennett,
    As you know, last year I tried to implement some of the Whole Brain Teaching techniques into my classroom. In order to go even further with WBT next school year, I have been reading Chris Biffle’s book, Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids this summer. I am really excited about his classroom management system and would like to tell you a little about it.
    The management system is broken down into levels, like in a video game. At the beginning of the year, I’ll start with Level 1, The Scoreboard. This is a chart with a smiley face and a sad face. Students (as a group) earn points on either side according to their behavior. No student is pointed out individually for negative behavior, but he can be acknowledged for positive behavior. At the end of the day, if the class has more smiley marks than sad marks, they might receive a small prize (a short game or extra recess). Level 2 is the Super Improvers Team. I like this level because students compete only against themselves, and they can advance either for academics or behavior. Then there’s Level 3 which is the Practice Cards. These cards are for students who consistently break one or two of the classroom rules. They receive a card stating which rule they need to practice, and then they practice the rule for two minutes at recess. Parents also receive a note home informing them of the rule that needs to be practiced. Students can also receive a card stating what an excellent job they’re doing following a specific rule.
    I’m really excited about Level 4. This is the most current level that I’ve learned about. It addresses those students who are disrespectful in the classroom to other students and/or to me. This level is called the Guff Counter, and it goes on the bottom of the Scoreboard. After the level is introduced to the students, when any student gives out guff (inappropriate comments, eye rolling, etc.), I say, “That sounds like guff....where’s my marker?” The class then puts their hands up in front of them and says, “Please stop!” The idea of this level is to take the attention away from the student who is being disrespectful and show the guffer that the class is behind me, not him. This takes care of the problem in seconds because now the guffer does not have an audience! This allows me to keep on teaching, and the class to keep on learning--even the guffer!
    There are a few more levels to this classroom management system, but I only plan I implementing them if I have to do so. I am really looking forward to trying this system. I feel that it is a way to manage the classroom while not singling out any one student for misbehavior. It also keeps the classroom respectful. I’m excited to see how the Guff Counter works in the classroom, because as you know, we have students who try to backtalk and be disrespectful. I’m hoping with these strategies in place next year will be a wonderful year!


    Ms. Bragg

    1. Great post, Cheryl! I really lke your one comment, "This (Guff Counter) allows me to keep on teaching, and the class to keep on learning--even the guffer!" Here are 25 points for you!

  5. Dear Mrs. Anderson,

    Thank you for visiting our classroom this past week. I am happy you were able to see Whole Brain Teaching in action. The students have been very receptive to the first three levels of the WBT management system. As we’ve discussed, the Scoreboard is facilitated daily. What you observed on your recent visit, the Smilies and Frownies, is only one variation of Scoreboard. I hope you are able to visit again to see some of our other variations. The one they have been most receptive to lately is Boombox. Each positive mark on the scoreboard leads to a “Mighty Oh Yeah”, in addition to the boombox being moved closer to where it is plugged in. If the Boom Box successfully moves close enough to the outlet, our independent writing time is accompanied by music. This is a short period of time, but the reward is powerful.

    Level 2 is the Super Improvers Wall. I have attached the letter sent home to families to explain this valuable management tool. We have also used Level 3, Practice Cards. You may have noticed the white card placed on a student’s desk when they repeatedly blurted out their ideas about recycling. This card was a reminder to follow Rule #2, Raise your Hand for Permission to Speak. The student used part of our recess time for a two-minute practice. These practice cards have been a fabulous way to help students to continually follow our classroom rules. Students also receive purple cards as rewards for exceptional behavior. (Purple Cards cancel out White cards.) On occasion, they have received green cards which allow for in class independent practice. (Each time they practice, they add a tally mark to their green card. If the practice is deemed successful by the teacher it can lead to a purple card.) ALL cards earned are positive chances to work towards improved behavior and ALL are followed up with parent communication.

    We will be moving on to a new level of scoreboard, called the Guff Counter, to tackle students who are not responding to the current levels of Scoreboard. I want to explain this level to you before you observe it in action on future visits. The students who will be taking part in this level likely will be the same students you have been having issues with at recess. As you confer with them and their parents, it would be a bonus if you were familiar with their classroom progress.

    The goal in Level 4 is to target challenging students and eliminate their Guffs. A Guff is any disrespectful remark. The Guff counter will be found at the bottom of the Scoreboard. If someone says something that is a Guff, the teacher marks it in the Guff Counter. The shocker to students is one mark is put down for each word of the Guff. The whole class loses a minute of recess for each mark. This has been explained to the students and their reaction was “Yikes!” The good news is, if someone makes a Guff comment the other students have the option of stating firmly “Please, Stop!” When this happens, the teacher does not make a mark on the Guff Counter. This puts the majority of the class against the negative behavior. Challenging students have lost the backing of their classmates, which is often what fuels disrespectful behavior.

    Please let me know if you have any questions about this new management level. Thank you, as always, for your support and interest in our third grade community.

    Mrs. Cassaro

    1. Good post, Catherine! The Guff Counter does take the fuel out of the challenging behaviors! Here are 25 points!

  6. Dear Dr. Jaacks,

    As you know from being in my classroom over the course of the past year, I have been implementing several Whole Brain Teaching techniques. Over the summer I participated in an excellent book club using the book Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids by Chris Biffle. This year I am excited to try a few new Whole Brain Teaching strategies.

    Every year we have one or two challenging students in our class. No matter what you do, these students will push your buttons and see what they can get away with. Here is where “The Guff Counter” comes in. You have seen my Scoreboard in action and how effective it has been with my students. The Guff Counter targets disrespectful behavior, such as talking back, giving attitude, and eye rolling. Students do this because they believe they have the support of their classmates. If classmates say nothing when this happens, it is like a silent seal of approval. With the Guff Counter, we want to turn the majority of the class against this disruptive behavior.

    I will use a scoreboard similar to the one we already use. When a student gives “guff,” I will add a mark for every word of guff on the frown side. This means that students will lose a minute of recess for each mark. However, if all students say “Please, stop!” after the guff, recess time will not be taken away. Students will hear me say “That sounds like guff … where’s my marker?” That is their cue to say “Please, stop!”

    After observing in my classroom, you should notice that students will silence the guffer. Those cliques that develop at the beginning of the year will change. Students do not want to lose their recess and this will make them come together as one group. When the challenging students see that their behavior will not be tolerated by anyone, including their friends, this behavior will stop.

    I am excited about implementing The Guff Counter in my classroom this upcoming year. It is a quick and effective way to manage classroom behavior without taking away time from teaching. This will be a great year! If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.

    Thank you for your time,
    Mrs. Isham

    1. Elissa,
      Great letter to your principal. Disrespectful behavior in any form is not acceptable! Here are 25 points for you!

  7. Dear Mrs. Vaught,

    Today I will be adding the Guff Counter to my behavioral management strategy, the scoreboard. You have witnessed the Scoreboard management strategy in place, with Level 2, being comprised of the Super Improvers Team and Level 3, the usage of practice cards, during your observation periods in my classroom. The Guff Counter will be level 4. The purpose of this level is to put an end to students becoming verbally disrespectful in order to try and gain the advantage or pursuing their own interests in avoidance of classroom rules, whether it be to delay class work or to gain acceptance of their peers. This often leads to what feels like a struggle for power between the student and me. I think you will agree that this is not a good situation, therefore, let me explain the Guff Counter.

    When a student back talks me for the first time, let’s say Anna, I will smile and say to her that she reminded me of another important part of the scoreboard I needed to go over with students. I will proceed to tell the class that when someone gives me guff, I will say that sounds like guff and repeat what the student said and hold up that many fingers of what the child said and make that many marks on my side of the scoreboard that I just labeled guff. You see this will make you lose the game. So Anna, repeat what you said. Anna repeats it, and I tell the students that sounds like guff. Where is my pen? I want you to look at the person giving guff, hold out you hand palms down, and say, Please Stop! When you show the guffer you are behind me and not sit silently and let them disrupt the class, then you will earn a point. Let’s try it again. Anna says, “I was not talking. “ I smile at Anna and say that sounds like a guff to me, where is my pen? The class looks at Anna and says, Please Stop! I give the class a point for their participation and one for Anna because she reminded me of the next level of the scoreboard.

    No points will actually be awarded for “guffs”, because the class will support me and the “guffs” or disruptions will diminish.

    I hope I have given you an informative description of the latest strategy that I plan to implement so that, if encountered during an observation, you will be advised of this new technique.

    Thanks for your continued support of me using Whole Brain Teaching and making our year run smoothly.

    Miss Manuel
    Debora Manuel

    1. Debora,
      Very descriptive post on the Guff Counter! Be careful of extra long sentences in your essays. For example, "I will proceed to tell the class that when someone gives me guff, I will say that sounds like guff and repeat what the student said and hold up that many fingers of what the child said and make that many marks on my side of the scoreboard that I just labeled guff." Here are 20 points.

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  9. Mr. Simmons,
    As part of the Whole Brain Teaching techniques administered in my classroom this year, I will be implementing a strategy that directly targets disrespectful behavior. The fourth level of the scoreboard is called the “Guff Counter” and the goal is to target those challenging students and turn the majority of the class against any disruptive behavior. The disruptive student will no longer feel that he/she is silently backed up by their peers, but will feel deflated as the entire class (not just the teacher) is against his/her disruptive behavior.
    “Guff” is anything that makes the teacher unhappy, such as rolling eyes, groaning, talking back, exaggerated sighing, etc. When the teacher and class sees or hears the guff the teacher will tally a mark on the Guff Counter unless the entire class firmly and emphatically says, “Please stop!” If the class responds with,” Please Stop!” then the teacher will not mark on the Guff counter, and may even give the class a positive mark! Marks on the Guff counter are considered negative points, which will decrease Fun Friday time, or marks on the positive side will increase Fun Friday time!
    I am beyond excited to begin this with my students. I ask that you will support me in my efforts in eliminating disrespectfulness. According to Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids by Chris Biffle, “Challenging students’ strongest allies are the first to turn on them.” Amazingly, the Guff Counter provides a safe opportunity for students to go against disrespectful behavior, and it effectively unites the class! Instead of constant scolding from the teacher, the Guff Counter is a game that students will fully support and the classroom will benefit from, as it becomes a safe, productive, disrespectful-free zone!
    Thank you for your support this year and for supporting my efforts in implementing Whole Brain Teaching!
    Amanda Martin

    1. Amanda,
      Nice letter! I want to post a sign in my classroom similar to your comment, "...and the classroom will benefit from, as it becomes a safe, productive, disrespectful-free zone!" Here are 25 points for you!

    2. I agree with Nancy, Amanda! This is a great note. We should use it for our "team" note to Mr. S. I think Nancy has a great idea about posting a sign in our classrooms. We should work to make one and post it in each of our rooms. We could even send Nancy a copy! Great quote, Amanda!!!

  10. Mr. S-

    We just wanted to let you know that our Classroom Management System is in full swing. You had inquired about our team’s Super Improvers Team (Level 2 of our Scoreboard), and we want you to be reminded that it is the best strategy we have implemented for encouraging individual student improvement and success. We wanted you to be aware we have also introduced a new class management technique, the Guff Counter (Scoreboard Level 4). We have had several students back talk and be disrespectful lately, and the Guff Counter is specifically designed to eliminate this. We know, as you have stated many times, “Student success relies heavily on keeping their E-tanks (emotional tanks) full. It is difficult to keep E-tanks full when others are disrespectful during class, and with months of school left, we felt it was time to add this classroom management strategy.

    Here’s how the Guff Counter works: We have added a row, called Guff, to each of our classroom scoreboards. When we see disrespectful behavior, either toward us or other students (eye rolling, back talk, groaning, etc.), we will verbally say, “That sounds like guff to me, where's my marker?" This will cue the class to raise their hand with a "stopping gesture" while firmly responding, “Please stop!” This effective classroom management strategy unites the class behind the teachers and the team because it does not allow disrespectful behavior to be tolerated. This quickly shows the guffer that they are all alone and not supported by their classmates. During the introduction/practice session, students lost one point for each disrespectful word/gesture, but in reality, they will never lose points for individual guff. Students do not want to lose points and will always stand behind the teacher's leadership. They can, however, earn points for uniting together when they say, “Please stop!”

    “No one may interrupt instruction and learning” is one of our team expectations, and we can’t afford to allow rebel students to win a classroom struggle. Nor is it our goal for any one student to be hurt or upset. The Guff Counter is an effective classroom management technique because it allows us to correct the behavior as a class so we can quickly continue with learning.

    Thank you for supporting our team’s Whole Brain Teaching efforts. We just thought we should let you know about our current steps toward making our team stronger and more proficient.

    None of us is stronger than all of us!

    Respectfully yours,

    Team Canterbury Castle

    (Melinda Sprinkle)

    1. Melinda,
      Your principal will appreciate your detailed letter, especially when he realizes your class has less student visits to his office for discipline! Here are 25 points and a Bonus 5!

  11. Dear Miss Administrator,

    As you have observed in my room, Whole Brain Teaching has created an environment where my students are successful academically as well as socially. I endeavor to facilitate students to be not only respectful towards adults and peers, but also to be people who are respected. In order to serve in this venture, I want to explain a new part of WBT in our room and my reasons for implementing it.

    The new technique is called The Guff Counter. It is added onto our scoreboard. Every time a student gives guff, such as eye rolling, back talk, etc, I add a point on the frownie side of the board for every word of guff. I tell the class every point on The Guff Counter counts as a lost minute of recess. The only way to stop points from being added to The Guff Counter is for the students in the class to ask the guffer, forcefully and politely, to, “Please stop!”

    I see this as an asset in our room for three reasons. First, the students who generally give the most guff do so because they have the support of their peers. Without this support, i.e. the class asking them to stop, they will soon end their rude and disrespectful behavior. Also, it causes students to pay more attention to their words and behavior. Because they do not want to lose recess, they will be more attentive to how they are responding to each other and to me. Finally, this enables my students to achieve my goal of being respectful and respected. When they learn not to tolerate rudeness and disrespect in here, they will carry out these same practices outside the classroom in asking others to, “Please stop,” their behavior.

    Please understand I never intend to let the students go without recess just because of one child’s indiscretion! I have modeled and we have practiced what to do in various situations of guff always giving students the opportunity to ask the guffer to, “Please stop.” If you have questions or concerns, please let me know. As always, you are welcome in our room at any time to see how Whole Brain Teaching is having a positive impact on my students.


    Meredith Pearson

    1. Well done, Meredith! You are so right to have students model the behaviors, correct and incorrect! Here are 25 points for you!

  12. Dear Ms. H-,

    During your walk through, you observed the Guff Counter and wanted to know more about it. The Guff Counter is an ingenious strategy for extinguishing arguing, backtalk, and other disrespectful behaviors. The Guff Counter removes one of the major causes of this type of behavior, that is, the implied support of a student’s peers. The Guff Counter removes this misperception by having a student’s classmates voice their disapproval of any disrespectful behavior (guff) by saying “Please stop!” loudly when it happens. The students know that silence in the event of guff will result in a mark on the Guff Counter and a one minute loss of recess. This threat is the incentive for voicing their disapproval. They aren't bossy or teacher’s pets; they just don’t want to lose even one precious minute of recess. In reality, I will not take any minutes of recess away. I have assured students that if they say “Please stop!” quickly enough, I will not give any Guff points. I even provide a verbal hint when any “guff” has occurred. The only thing I truly want to take away is the implicit support of the class for disrespectful behavior. When students understand that disrespect is not supported by their peers, they are extremely less likely to use it. The Guff Counter is used not only to minimize disrespectful behavior directed at the teacher but also any directed at other students. The Guff Counter is so effective at minimizing disrespectful behavior that my only "difficulty" in using it is reining in students’ outcries at any behavior with even the slightest hint of disrespect. In this way, my students are becoming experts at detecting potentially bullying behaviors directed at others.

    Diane Strickland

  13. Nice letter, Diane! The Guff Counter is fast and efficient. To avoid the student outcries, we recommend you rehearse your cue, “That sounds like guff to me! Where's my marker?" Your students should know that only then do they quickly chime in with, "Please stop!" Model the right way and wrong way several times. Here are 25 points for you!

  14. Dear Rabbi Samber,

    It was a pleasure having you visit our classroom this morning. I noticed, at one point during the lesson, that you were nodding your head in amazement as you observed my students stand up to disrespectful behavior and stop it in its tracks. As you know, I am a firm believer of Whole Brain Teaching. You have seen the amazing effects of the Scoreboard, Super Improvers Team and Practice Cards in my classroom. What you happily observed this morning was Level Four of the Scoreboard, the Guff Counter.

    We live in times where the level of respect that children once had for the adults in their lives, has been to a reduced to a bare minimum. In addition to this, kids often speak to each other in a degrading manner leaving those involved in the interaction feeling low and unimportant. The Guff Counter was designed to addressed both of these issues. The Guff Counter empowers kids to recognize and stand up to disrespectful behavior occurring in their classrooms. Allow me to share with you how this powerful and life-changing classroom management technique works.

    When the class is ready for Level Four of the Scoreboard (The Guff Counter), I make a change to the Scoreboard by adding another row. This new row is titled: Guff. I teach my students that guff is any comment or remark that makes me unhappy. I give them examples and we use role play to get a better understanding of what guff means. I explain to my students that when someone says something obnoxious or disrespectful and they, as a class, don’t say anything, it means that everyone is silently supporting what has been said! I then teach my students that I will add one mark in the Guff Counter for every word of guff that is said. Each mark if the Guff Counter means that everyone loses one minute of recess. At this point, many of my students want to know what they can do to prevent this terrible loss! I explain to them that if someone says something that is guff, and everyone in the class says “Please, stop!” they are showing the guffer that they don’t support what he has said. If they do this, together as a class, recess time isn't taken away and they may even earn a minute of recess for this great act of courage! In order to prevent my students from saying “Please, stop” for every perceived infraction, I teach my students that they are only to say “Please, stop” when they hear me say, “That sounds like guff... where is my marker?” My students quickly learn that they will not be supported by their peers for acting out and nobody, not even my most challenging student, wants to be the one responsible for losing recess for the class.
    When a child is trained to do this in the safe environment of his classroom; seeds of growth are planted for a lifetime. He will build up the strength needed to stand up to this kind of behavior on the school yard, on the school bus, at home or at a friend’s house. This kind of strength has the power to build character and change lives.

    I hope you enjoyed reading the “behind the scenes” view of what occurred this morning. Please let me know if you have any questions about the amazing Guff Counter.

    Rivky Greenberger

    1. Rivky,
      Excellent explanation of the Guff Counter! Here are your 25 certfication points plus 5 BONUS POINTS!

  15. Dear Mrs. Rose,
    This summer, I had the privilege of learning more about Whole Brain Teaching strategies by participating in Chris Biffle’s “Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids” book study. In this book, I learned how to provide a respectful learning environment for myself as well as my little darlings!

    I will begin the school year with the scoreboard, the first level of WBT, which controls whole class behavior with smiley points or frowny points. During this level, focus is on building commodore with my entire class instead of individual behavior. This level requires I keep the points at a maximum of 3 points apart to keep the students engaged. If the students get more smiley points than frowny points at the end of the day, they will be able to play a Whole Brain Teaching game. Level 2, the Super Improves Team, is an individualized management system to reward students for making academic and behavioral gains. As students make these gains, they will be rewarded for their progress along the way.

    Level 3 is the practice cards which help students decrease unwanted behavior by practicing the desired behavior. If a student consistently breaks a certain classroom rule, they will be given a white practice card with that rule written on it. During recess, they will practice this rule for two minutes while the other students are enjoying an educational break. Students can only receive a maximum number of two white cards in one school day. Each white practice card is accompanied with a note home, which requires a signature, to inform parents of the rule their child needs to practice. Purple cards will eventually be given for positive classroom behavior. A purple card will nullify any white practice cards received that day and will be accompanied by a note home of the student’s positive behavior. Green practice cards help students become aware of a rule they had previously broken a classroom rule. If they follow the rule, students give themselves a point on their green card, which makes them think about the rules and how to follow them correctly.

    Level 4, the guff counter, is the stage I am thrilled about implementing into my classroom. This stage goes back to the scoreboard but adds a level below the normal smiley/frowny points. Instead of being a whole class point system, the guff counter is for students who are disrespectful to their teacher or classmates. If a child back talks, rolls their eyes, or mutters something under their breath, I will not draw attention to the child. Instead, I will say “that sounds like a guff….where is my marker” and walk to the board. Students will hear this, quickly point to the person who is acting disrespectfully, and say “Please Stop!” I will never actually put points on the guff counter but always keep the students on their toes thinking that I will. The goal is to have the class to be the ones to control this inappropriate behavior in our classroom and ask their classmate to "Please stop!" This takes my behavior management role away and keeps the class as a united front! Chris Biffle made a very eye opening statement in his book, “Challenging students’ strongest allies are the first to turn on them” (p. 128). Students will want their friends to act appropriately so they do not get a point on the guff counter.

    I know you will love seeing these levels in action in my classroom! I wanted to make sure that you understand what each level means in case parents ask questions about this different management system. Thank you so much for supporting me through my Whole Brain Teaching journey!

    Laken Harrell

  16. Laken,
    Good explanation of the guff counter. Rather than have the class point at the guffer, have them put their hand up in a "stop sign" motion toward the guffer. Check paragraph 2 for a writing error. Here are 20 certification points.

    1. Kate,
      Thank you for clearing this up! I took my information from what was written in Coach's book but I like this better! Holding up a stop sign definitely does not draw attention to the Guff!

    2. Coach explains this in the book as "point their hands" at the guffer meaning make a stop sign gesture. It's a more gentle way (instead of pointing fingers) of showing the guffer that the class will not stand for their nonsense.

  17. Dear Mrs. Roth,
    You know from observing in my classroom that I use Whole Brain Teaching strategies. The main motivator is The Scoreboard, a simple tally system. The Scoreboard is used whole class management and is made up of various levels. Level 1 rewards good behavior with smilies and tracks negative behaviors with tally marks under the frownies. While I may point out individual positive behavior, an individual is never singled out for negative behavior. Level 2 includes only positive rewards for individual improvement in behavioral, social, or academic areas. Level 3 provides students with additional practice for rules they may have difficulty with. We are now adding Level 4 in some classes. Level 4, the Guff Counter, is used to nip disrespectful backtalk in the bud by isolating the back talker from their support system... the class. When a student backtalks the teacher or another student, the class uses the hand sign for stop and says “Please, stop. The class is the rewarded with a tally under the smileys. If the class supports the back talker, even if it’s by remaining silent, the class receives a tally under the frownie for every word of back talk. This way, the back-talker is robbed of the support of their friends and I don’t have be the bad guy. The class shows their support for a respectful learning environment. Plus, the whole procedure takes only seconds and allows everyone, even the back talker, to continue learning. The Guff Counter keeps the discipline in my classroom and out of the principal’s office!

    Thank You

    Gwenn Weston

    1. Gwenn,
      Good explanation of the Guff Counter. Here are 25 certification points.

  18. Dear Mrs. Pullen,
    Over the past few months, we have been learning about different classroom management techniques for professional development. You requested that I share one of the amazing Whole Brain Teaching techniques I find effective in my classroom. One of the mind blowing techniques I have found effective is Level Four of the Scoreboard: The Guff Counter.
    What is the Guff Counter? Well, to answer this question, I will need to explain Guff. Guff is any back talk, complaining, sighing, eye rolling, groaning, saying “this is boring”, refusing to admit mistakes, blaming others, or ANY disrespectful behavior. For example, a student is talking during your lesson and you ask them to stop. They talk back to you by replying “I wasn’t talking”. Their talking back would be Guff. Another example of Guff could be if students roll their eyes at you or complain about completing a task. Keep in mind that Level Four is only introduced to rid the class of Guff when Guff is not being successfully managed by the previous Levels.
    The Guff Counter, like other WBT techniques is not a punishment but rather a game to reinvigorate the collective, positive whole. When Guff takes place, the teacher awards the number of frownies they feel the particular Guff deserves. Verbal Guff can amount to a frowney for each word and nonverbal Guff can amount to frownies matching the Guff’s severity. For example, the above Guff “I wasn’t talking” is three words worth three frownies on the Guff Counter. The eye rolling and complaining may be worth 2 to 5 frownies on the Guff Counter depending on the level of sass. At the end of the day, frownies from the Guff Counter are counted and deducted from earned smilies on the Scoreboard, in addition to any frownies already earned.
    Needless to say, the Guff Counter is used to threaten but not actually carried through because it breaks the rule of the + or – 3 of the Scoreboard Game. If you don’t carry through, how is it effective? The Guff Counter is so effective because it turns the collective whole against the Guffer in a polite and positive fashion. After much practice, you call attention to Guff then threaten to mark frownies on the Guff Counter. If students don’t want to have the Guff, they will quickly turn to the Guffer on this cue and say politely “Please, stop”. As a result, the Guffer has lost the support of the class for their negative behavior! Those who may have inadvertently supported past Guff with their silence are now speaking up and challenging the negative behavior. Visible past supporters and friends of the Guffer now aim their energy toward correcting their friend’s behavior. As Coach B explains, “It’s mob rule for a benevolent purpose”.
    The truth is, this Guffer should be stopped. They are holding others back with their Guff and causing turmoil in an otherwise positive environment. The Level Four Guff Counter is just one of the amazing WBT techniques that all teachers should have in their invisible tool box. Remember that you are always welcome to visit our Kindergarten class to see WBT in action! Thanks for all you do and your ongoing support!
    Jenn Mulcahy

  19. Jenn,
    Nice post. Yes, it is very important to point out that this is one technique we threaten with, but actually never mark on the Scoreboard. Rehearsal of what Guff might sound like or look like, along with what "could happen" without classroom support, rallies the class behind you. Here are 25 points for you!

  20. Dear Administration,
    As you know, I have been busy at work with my amazing class this year! I am so appreciative of the fact that you support my classroom and my teaching using the Whole Brain Teaching system. I have been excited to share each level of the behavior system and I wanted to explain how the next level works. I know you love to hear what is going on in Room 116.
    The next level of the behavior system deals with the students who like to talk back. These students may have not learned that this kind of behavior is impolite. In our school and in my classroom this kind of behavior needs to be changed so we are able to learn at higher levels. This next step is called The Guff Counter. Here is a little run-down of the system.
    You know my student Mack. Well, he tends to talk under his breath in response to me asking him to follow the rules, or work hard. He may even give guff to other students. This may seem harmless but it gives him power in the classroom. The other students hear this and think they too can act like this. Soon, I will have little power and my students will run the class. Well WBT has a solution that actually takes the power away from students like Mack. On the lower half of my scoreboard, I will write a new level. Any time a student like Mack gives me Guff, I will make a mark, taking away a minute of recess from the class for every guff word said. I know, you may think this is harsh, but Mack thinks he has an army of students who back his guff towards us. It is our job to show Mack that we don’t support his behaviors. Now, I don’t plan to turn them against him in a negative way, I just plan to give them the voice to say that our class doesn’t run this way.
    This will not work though unless I train the class to respond appropriately, so I will practice with the class by picking students who wouldn’t be caught giving guff. As a class, we will practice what to say and this will allow for each student to know that we are a united front against anything that takes away from our classroom. We will practice this throughout the beginning of the year when I see that I may have some students with bad habits. I will begin by using the Super Improvers Team, then employ practice cards, then when this isn’t working, I will bring in the Guff Counter. When I say, “That sure sounds like guff,” the students will kindly ask the Guff giver to “Please Stop”. I may even reward the class with an extra minute to cancel out the minute taken away. This allows the Guff Giver to see that their classmates do not support them. Positive peer pressure at its finest! Sometimes, I may say something like, “Oh that sure sounds like guff.” If the students are fast enough and I don’t have the chance to make a mark on the counter, I will not add a mark. This shows immediate feedback and the students may not even know who was guffing. I plan to train the students so that I don’t have to make any marks, ever.
    Please feel free to come, watch, and practice the Guff game with us. You too will see how positive this feels and I hope to show you that the Guff game works for our classroom!

    Teaching in Style,
    Mrs. Long

  21. Krystal,
    Well done! Respect for the teacher and for each other is a must! Here are 25 points!

  22. Dear Mrs. Coe,

    As we have discussed, the Whole Brain Teaching techniques I’ve been using this year have created an environment where my students feel safe because it is a ‘No Fail’ space. They are making improvements and growth both academically as well as socially. As you may have observed in my classroom, we value respect. My goal is to enable students to be respectful towards adults and peers. In order to assist in this undertaking, I will be using another level of WBT.

    This new method is called The Guff Counter. It is added onto my Scoreboard, underneath the class’s smileys and frownies. Every time a student is disrespectful, or gives guff, I add a point on the frownie side of the Scoreboard for every word of guff. Guff is defined as any disrespectful behavior such as, talking back, eye rolling, groaning, etc. I’ll tell the class every point on The Guff Counter counts as a lost minute of recess. The only way to stop points from being added to The Guff Counter is for the students in the class to ask the guffer to, “Please stop!” with their arm straight out and hand positioned like a stop sign.

    I see this structure benefitting my students for three reasons. First, the students who generally give the most guff do so because they have the support of their peers. This will change the classroom dynamic and divide rebel students from peer support. Secondly, it causes students to pay more attention to their words and behavior. They will quickly realize that the Guff Counter is not ‘students vs. teacher’, but one rebel student vs. all the students backed up by me. Finally, this enables my students to achieve my goal of being respectful and respected. When they learn not to tolerate rudeness and disrespect in here, they will carry out these same practices outside the classroom in asking others to, “Please stop,” their behavior.

    Please understand I never intend to let the students go without recess just because of one child’s indiscretion! I will model and explain my expectations fully with both examples and non-examples. We will practice what to do in various situations of guff always giving students the opportunity to ask the guffer to, “Please stop.” I am looking forward to implementing the Guff Counter, as I see it is the perfect way to let my class know that any form of disrespect is not welcomed in our classroom. This is a way for everyone’s learning to continue, including the guffer. If you have questions or concerns, please let me know. As always, you are welcome at any time to see how Whole Brain Teaching is having a positive impact on my students.


    Sara Martin

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. Sara,
      Great letter! I love the "No Fail" space. Here are 25 certification points plus 5 BONUS POINTS!

  23. Dear Mr. Dee,

    As we have discussed, I have been using the Whole Brain Teaching techniques in my classroom. It has helped create a positive learning environment. I would like to introduce a new stage of Whole Brain Teaching this week to continue helping my students with their behavior.
    There are a few students that struggle with respect in my classroom. I want to create a disrespect-free lifestyle for these students so that when they leave us they will have an easier time getting along with others they will encounter. Sometimes these students do not agree with a decision I have made or do not want to do something or have attitudes when told to to something. I call this behavior a "guff". The next stage of Whole Brain Teaching is called the "Guff Counter".
    To show the Guff Counter to my class, I will divide my scoreboard in half. On the bottom half I will write the word, "guff". Whenever a student is disrespectful to me or their classmates I will approach the guff counter and put a point on the teacher side of the section, unless the class says, "please stop!" to the trouble-maker before I put the point down. The points will never need to be placed on the Guff Counter because the class will team up to end the behavior very fast! They do not want the point, which is automatically something they do not like.
    The beauty of the Guff Counter is that the class is helping their classmate understand that the behavior they are doing is wrong and undesirable in life! The student who was acting out is not being yelled at and they are not being sent out of the room. The student is learning how to behave appropriately and how good it is to be on task. The teacher does not have to be the "bad guy" and yell at the kid. The students are on the teachers side.
    I hope you will continue to support my classroom and Whole Brain Teaching techniques. If you have any questions, please let me know and I will be glad to discuss these in more detail.


    Ms. Stephanie Thompson

    1. Stephanie,
      Good letter describing the Guff Counter. Here are 25 certification points!

  24. Dear Ms. Farlow,

    As you know I have been using Whole Brain Teaching strategies in my classroom for about two years now. There is one classroom behavior strategy that is easy to implement and it almost instantly stops most students’ disrespectful behavior. So without further ado, I am delighted to introduce the WBT Guff Counter to you.

    The Guff Counter is used to stop disrespectful behavior such as eye-rolling, back-talking, and uncalled for comments. When a student has made a disrespectful comment, the teacher counts each word as a negative mark on the scoreboard. Each negative mark counts for one less minute of recess for the entire class. This is a very big deal, and a sure way to show the seriousness of the matter, since students usually only get one negative mark at a time. A guff such as, “I am standing quietly in line, ugh!” will count for seven negative marks on the Scoreboard. Now the strength and beauty of the scoreboard lies in what happens next. The rest of the class has the power to stop the negative consequences and the guffer all at once. As soon as the guff occurred and the teacher says, “That sounds like a guff,” they get to point to the guffer and tell him or her to, “Please, stop!” It allows a teacher to get the support of the class against the offender, which also means that the offender loses the support of the class. It takes the wind out of their sails. The teacher also gets to quickly correct the behavior without scolding the student.

    It is a win-win situation for all; the teacher united the class behind her against the guffer, the guffer learned that disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated, and the rest of the class learned not to give their silent support to the guffer. Usually the threat of the negative marks and the class supporting the teacher is enough to stop the disrespectful behavior.

    Please let me know if you have any questions. If you see it as a useful tool, I will gladly share information on Guff Counter at our next teacher’s meeting.


    Mrs. Carreiro

    1. Mrs. Carreiro,
      You are right, the guff counter does take the wind out of their sails! Great post! Here are 25 certification points!

  25. August 15, 2013
    Chapter 19 - The Guff Counter

    Mrs. Totten,
    As you have observed and we have discussed my use of WBT in my classroom this year, I wanted to inform you of the next level my class has been introduced to. I am now implementing Level 4 – The Guff Counter. Even though the Scoreboard, the SIT Wall and the Practice Cards are working well, due to a few students behavior, I will be moving to this next level. This level directly targets the disrespectful behavior of some students. As we have discussed, some of the students are misbehaving to get attention from their peers. The Guff Counter will eliminate attention toward the disrespectful student by his peers. I have added a new line on the scoreboard labeled Guff. The class has been practicing what is considered Guff and what is not. They have been told that if I hear or see any disrespect towards me or other students, I will say, “That sounded/looked like Guff! Where is my marker?” When I state this, the class is to hold up their hand in a stop position toward the “guffer” and say please stop. The students have been told that if they do not apply this strategy the whole class will lose 1 minute of recess time. As we have previously discussed the entire class will not be “punished” due to one student’s behavior. I believe implementing this strategy will help us not lose any academic time due to disrespectful behavior. Please feel free to stop in and witness this amazing strategy for yourself!

    Terri Brown

  26. Terri,
    Nice letter describing the Guff Counter. Try not to end your sentence with a preposition if it could be worded in a different way and still make sense. (sentence 1) - Here are 20 certification points!

  27. Dear Mrs. Admina,

    As you know, I attended several Whole Brain Teaching training sessions this summer and plan to implement the techniques I’ve learned in my classroom this year. Perhaps one of the most exciting techniques I will implement for classroom management is called the Guff Counter. I will introduce the Guff Counter as a game and rehearse correct and incorrect behavior with my students. “Guff” is any comment made by a student that makes me unhappy. For example, if I ask a student to sit up and he or she rolls their eyes and says, “I AM sitting up,” that is considered “guff”. My students and I will discuss various forms of “guff” and discuss why it is unacceptable in our classroom. Then, anytime a student begins to use “guff”, the rest of the class will immediately say, “Please stop.” I believe many “guff giving” students have simply developed a bad habit which can be broken by this quick (and fun) reminder from their classmates. This is a reminder to the “guff giver”, that this behavior is unacceptable and it will also train students in my class to recognize disrespectful behavior (directed toward themselves or others) and to have the confidence to ask the person showing disrespect to stop.

    As always, thank you for supporting me in my growth as a professional educator.

    Jamie Rickman

  28. Jamie,
    This is a great tool to use with those "guff giving" students! Don't forget to implement the scoreboard element in this strategy. Here are 25 certification points!