Evolution: “Management or Die” is a Thing of the Past

Classroom Management For What? Compliance is NOT the goal

When it started, CT3 Education (then, the Center for Transformative Teacher Training) partnered with districts, schools, and organizations across the nation, with a focus on improving classroom management. All of our work was rooted in the No-Nonsense Nurturer® Four Step Model, an approach to engaging students that came out of research conducted by CT3’s founders, Kristyn Klei Borrero and Lee Canter. Essentially, their research — grounded in sound educational theory — showed that highly effective educators create caring environments for students through consistency, accountability, and high expectations (Klei Borrero & Canter, 2018). 

We focused our efforts on ensuring that every scholar, particularly those often overlooked or underserved, received the best possible education from their teachers. We used phrases in our coaching work like “management or die.” Many former Teach for America corps members may remember our hard-edged approach from that period with disdain, aversion, and even fear. 

With tons of feedback on how elements of our language were feeling harmful to the very educators we were working to help, we pivoted. We went from our Behavior Management Cycle training to showing up as the No-Nonsense Nurturers® we were working to create. This shift – nearly 8 years ago now – drove several changes in our practice, which are detailed below. Critically, though: we still operate with a philosophy that views strong student engagement as foundational for rigorous instruction and pedagogy

NNN Four Step Model
NNN Four-Step Model
  • Instead of supporting “no excuses” cultures, we drive engagement

It doesn’t matter if your socks aren’t the right color, or if your hands aren’t clasped on your desk at the appropriate angle. Your brain is still working and demanding to be fed. We support the educators who teach you to support, push, and inspire you to academic, socioemotional, and social success. 

  • We treat classroom engagement as just the first step

We didn’t have anything after Real Time Teacher Coaching® for Management a decade ago. Now, when people ask, “Management for what?” we have an answer. Now, we focus on scholar engagement as a foundation for the rigorous, challenging pedagogical work ahead. We support educators to use their strong engagement chops in every pedagogical strategy we support. Yes, the directions for a Socratic seminar look different from the directions for entering the classroom, and both are important for any teacher focused on raising scholarly achievement.

  • We ensure the Four-Step model isn’t weaponized

Over the years, we have seen people take the four steps of the No-Nonsense Nurturer® model – precise directions, positive narration, consequences/incentives (now, accountability systems), and relationships – and use them for purposes not aligned with raising scholar achievement. Sometimes, people use just one step repeatedly (e.g., a day of consequences only), or use narration to point out scholars NOT following directions. To avoid this, we intentionally and proactively teach educators how this weaponized approach detracts from the ultimate goal. All four steps used together and appropriately, drive results in days, not weeks or months. 

  • We intentionally name that we are about consequences, not punishment

We don’t shy away from opportunities to name the difference between the two and to also name that punishment is about teacher needs, not scholar needs. We support educators to let scholars know there is a consequence for their actions so that they can get back on track. Period. Anything else is a barrier to our goal of increasing scholarly achievement.

  • We ensure that No-Nonsense Nurturers® grow No-Nonsense Nurturers®

Years ago, our hiring practices shifted to ensure we were adding team members who were neither negative controlling nor unintended enabling all the time. While we all may move through these relationship-building paradigms from time to time, we want to spend most of our time acting as No-Nonsense Nurturers®. And when our team members model that, it becomes easier for the educators we’re supporting to see that possibility in their futures.

  • We continue to support educators to bring their whole selves to their teaching and support their students to do the same. 

We embraced cultural relevance years ago and added anti-racism to that space in 2020. Now, more than ever, we know that educators need differentiated support to meet the needs of Every Student, Every Day. We have the tools and talent to do that through our coaching.

  • We evolved to offer Real Time Leadership Coaching®, leadership workshops, and a number of other options to support educators’ development and professional learning


When we only supported classroom management, educators asked us where they could find the NNN philosophy in their instruction, their school culture, their district leaders, and other areas of their work. We answered by adding leadership coaching (for principals, central office staff, etc.) to align with our teacher coaching work and grow those supporting teachers to more dramatically improve scholar achievement. 

If you were developed as or supported by a Real Time Teacher Coach more than five years ago, some of these changes might be new to you. Check out our website, or join one of our info sessions to learn more about how we’re driving scholar achievement upwards now. 


By: Nataki Gregory, Ed.D.,CT3 Chief Executive Officer

Check out CT3 Education programs such as No-Nonsense Nurturer, Real Time Teacher Coaching, and Real Time Leadership Coaching to find out more about Professional Development for Teachers and Leaders, classroom management strategies, and building relationships with students and their families.

Category: Culture, No-Nonsense Nurturer, Relationship Building, Teaching, Tips for Teachers