Group Rates

For information about group rates, contact Mike Anderson: [email protected].

Course curriculum

  • 2

    Knowing and Understanding Our Students

    • The Power of Relationships

    • How Well Do You Know Your Students?

    • Every Kid Needs a Champion

    • Find Students' Positive Qualities

    • Consider Students’ Primary Emotions

    • Build Relationships Slowly: Small Moments Are Key

    • Building Relationships Through Remote Learning

    • Bonus: Jeffrey Benson Encourages Us to Find Delight in Students' Ideas

    • Bonus: Margaret Berry Wilson Encourages Us to Know Ourselves

  • 3

    Don't Incentivize. Teach Skills

    • Incentives Do More Harm Than Good

    • Kids Do Well If They Can

    • The Dangers of Incentive Systems

    • Lagging Skills

    • Elicit Ideas from Students

    • Effective Modeling

    • Respectful Consequences

    • Discipline is About Trust

  • 4

    Adjusting Expectations

    • Why We Should Adjust Expectations

    • Why Adjusting Expectations Isn't Being "Soft"

    • Examples of Adjusting Expectations

    • Problem-Solving Conferences: What Are They?

    • How to Get Better at Running Problem-Solving Conferences

  • 5

    What We Say and How We Say It Matter

    • What We Say and How We Say It Matter

    • Rethinking Praise

    • Rethinking Praise: Application

    • Focus on Behaviors, Not Character

    • Focus on Behavior, Not Character: Application

    • Reduce Power Struggles: Use Language of the Rules

    • Reduce Power Struggles: Use Language of the Rules: Application

    • No One is Perfect: Be Ready to Apologize

    • The Power of Names

    • To Learn More About Effective Teacher Talk…

  • 6

    Wrap Up and Conclusions

    • What Have You Learned? What Will You Try?

    • Be the Teacher Who Requests Challenging Kids

    • Some More Resources

    • Before You Go, Help Me Improve this Course

Meet Your Instructor

Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson has been an educator for more than 25 years. A public school teacher for 15 years, he has also taught preschool, coached swim teams, and taught university graduate level classes. He now works as a consultant providing professional learning for teachers throughout the US and beyond. In 2004, Mike was awarded a national Milken Educator Award, and in 2005 he was a finalist for NH Teacher of the Year. In 2020, he was awarded the Outstanding Educational Leader Award by NHASCD for his work as a consultant. A best-selling author, Mike has written eight books about great teaching and learning. When not working, Mike can be found hanging with his family, tending his perennial gardens, and searching for new running routes around his home in Durham, NH.


  • There was so much to take away from this course, it was great really! I think the most important takeaway was how we talk to each other. The power of language is so incredible and sometimes just taking that step back and really processing that is so important. Strategies to use as well with behaviors and challenges were a huge takeaway from this course. Thank you for this course and all of your insight!

    Lacey Avery, Paraeducator, Keene, NH

  • I really enjoyed your course. There are so many helpful scenarios that I could relate to and do much better at. I extremely enjoyed the live interviews. All was very helpful. Definitely a lot to put in my tool box.

    Kelley Santamaria, Paraeducator, Kittery, ME

  • Thank you for the insight, perspective, and suggestions for best practices with our prickly students. I have done a lot of reflection of how I have handled behaviors in the past and conversely, how I may want to change how I handle challenging behaviors moving forward. Most importantly, I’ve reflected on the language I’m using with students in various contexts and changes I could make there.

    Eliza Mandel, Paraeducator, Keene, NH

  • This course has been both validating and eye opening. Learning new and innovative, (sometimes common sense) ways of approaching or trying to understand a “prickly” child is really at the heart of building positive, lasting relationships. I will carry these with me throughout my teaching career building a much more solid foundation of trust and acceptance for my students.

    Bryna Nason-Gaillardetz, Educator, SAU 29, NH

  • "Hugging Porcupines" is an excellent way to get educators (not just teachers--these ideas apply to administrators, tutors and paraprofessionals, and other support staff as well) thinking about how we respond to the "challenging" students who need our support and empathy the most. This course helps you through processing your own skills and methods and provides you with tools and ideas to actually implement change! As someone who works in special education (primarily with those "challenging" kids who don't quite fit elsewhere), I can't recommend this course enough. The way Mike presents information and ideas keeps everything from getting overwhelming, and I felt like I came out of it energized and readier than ever to build compassion into the classroom!

    Talia Follansbee, Special Education Educator, SAU 29

  • Kindness, caring, patience, acceptance, and respect.....Mike Anderson explores ways to work with kids who are labeled "difficult", and offers strategies and ideas to make it easier to hug those "porcupine" students that we all encounter.

    Kristi Parker, Educator, SAU 25

Included in This Course

You’ll explore key ideas, learn practical strategies, and gain helpful resources to help you build relationships and support positive behavior with students who struggle with self-regulation and social connection.

  • Learn to better understand (and have empathy for) children who struggle in school

  • Gain practical strategies for building relationships with students who often struggle with trust and relationship-building

  • Learn practical strategies for how to teach and support positive behaviors

  • Explore effective teacher language tips to help you support positive behaviors and reduce power struggles

  • Understand some of the downsides to incentives--and understand what to do instead

  • Consider how consequences can play a role in supporting students (but shouldn't be counted on as a solution)

  • Hear words of wisdom from guest education experts and authors Margaret Berry Wilson (elementary) and Jeffrey Benson (secondary)

  • When you finish the course, you can print a certificate showing 6 hours of professional learning.

  • You will have access to this course for a year, so you can go back in over and over again.

How Are Some Schools and Districts Using This Course?

  • District /School PD Day

    Some districts use this course (and others) for a dedicated PD day. Staff are given time to work through the course individually or in small groups. Several times during the day, staff gather in small groups to share important ideas, questions, and take-aways,

  • Paraeducator Support

    Hugging Porcupines has been a really popular course to offer to paraeducators--to support their work with students who have challenging behaviors.

  • Small Group Study

    Many schools and districts are offering this course (and others) to groups of educators who want to dig into this content together. They're structuring the work similarly as they would a book study.

  • Individual Professional Development

    This course also works really well as an option for an individual who wants support in working with a challenging student.