Mini-Series Topic #7: Classroom Management


Classroom management begins outside of the classroom.

This is perhaps the most important thing that every teacher, whether a novice or experienced, must understand.  is a journey, and embarking on a new semester or class requires careful planning.  Classroom learning is a journey. For example, if you were planning to take a road trip, you would first want to chart out your course and ensure that you had a road map.

A good teacher must be equipped with a curriculum map.  For SD trainers, this holds true as well. SD training is not just about training the dogs, the focus must always be on training the team,  This means that the human member of the team must also be trained.  You will soon discover that while a dog is content to work for a treat, this is not necessarily true for people.  SD trainers have additional challenges as they will be working with a population of students who all have special needs.  They may also be retired working professionals, accustomed to being in charge of their environment, and sometimes these old habits can die hard.

Remember the rule of 6 P’sProper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performances

Core Concepts

There are some key concepts that apply to classroom management, and these include:

  1. Goal Setting
  2. Curriculum Mapping
  3. Classroom Design
  4. Building the Culture of the Classroom
  5. Implementation of Classroom Management Practices

Goal Setting – without goals you will soon find yourself adrift.  It is important that before you take any further steps, you first ask the question “What am I hoping to accomplish?” Establish time frames and then build your program to speak to these goals. For example, a traditional SD training program requires 18 months of rigorous training.  Most programs will divide this training up into three segments as follows:

  • First semester: Mastering basic obedience commands
  • Second semester: Acquiring Public Access Skills
  • Semester Three:  SD Skill Task Training

Curriculum Mapping – This is a complex issue with many moving parts.  In short, you must standardize which skills and concepts must be taught, when, where and how they should be taught, and devise a plan to ensure that every standard has been covered along the way.

Classroom Design – this involves a clever plan on how to physically lay out the classroom.  Issues of how to communicate new and ongoing information, perhaps via carefully placed bulletin boards.  Will you have separate desks, tables where students are seated as groups, or chairs arranged in either rows or a semi-circle?  As you gain experience, you will find that certain types of classroom configurations are more conducive to success, given the types of activities you are planning. For example, if you plan to teach didactic concepts in the classroom  and will assign group work, seating students at tables in groups may be a better option.  Your classroom should also be configured to allow for students with wheelchairs by allowing wider aisles for them to navigate.

Building the Culture of the Classroom – it is important for the lead instructor to set the tone and clearly communicate classroom expectations at the start of the semester.  This should be done both verbally and in writing.  Written communication is particularly key for a population of students who has learning challenges.  It is advisable for you to provide classroom etiquette rules, chain of command and other information in the student handbook, and for you to also post a copy of the rules on the classroom bulletin board.  If you do not have a bulletin board or a secure classroom, then an online discussion board is suggested.  Issues to be outlined include but are not limited to:

  • Behavioral expectations
  • Policy on bullying
  • Flow of communication
  • Classroom authority
  • Progressive Discipline policy

It is important for you to understand that setting “norms” for both educational performance and behaviors are a part of the culture of your class, and this sets the tone for all that is to follow.

Implementation of Classroom Management Practices – once you have established these rules, it is critically important that you do not grant exceptions. Once you start to do so, all bets are off!  Young or old, it is a part of human nature that students will challenge your authority to see if the boundaries you have established are firm, or if they are moveable.  How you respond to these challenges determines how well in control of the classroom you will remain.  Responding to student challenges will be discussed in more detail in upcoming lessons.

Though many new trainers naturally want to begin training immediately, it is important to remember that laying a firm foundation is perhaps the single most important step you can take to ensure the integrity of your program.

Classroom News


Lindsey,Bentley and Brian

Beginner class – we wish to extend a warm welcome to our newest military veterans David Lewis and Henry Smith who have been accepted into our training program.  We are looking forward to being a part of their success.  Congratulations to Nicole and Maiden Joy and their SDIT “Dakota” on passing their Canine Good Citizen (CGC)  Test.  This is the first of three tests a team passes on their road to becoming a certified team.

Advanced class – congratulations to military veteran Brian Brown and his new SD Bentley on passing their certification test.  Brian and Bentley successfully completed their training, passed their certification test with flying colors and are our newest certified team.  Bentley was trained by student trainer Lindsey Carlson, a local teen who will graduate HS this month.  She plans to attend college locally.  Lindsey has been hired per diem by the FSDS to assist at our new training facility, and is working on professional development to earn her Master Trainer credentials.

Facility News

We have moved into our new facility and are at work to roll out some new programs and services designed to benefit the entire community, not just those students enrolled in our training program.  Come visit us inside of the Metro Center Mall is suite 1072.

Facility Hours:

  • Tues – Fri:  10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Phone:  602-870-2008

Basic Obedience Classes

We are now enrolling students for our upcoming basic obedience training classes. Whether you are seeking to train a dog for assistance work, or needing to provide obedience training for family pets in advance of bringing a new SD into your home, this obedience class will meet your needs.  We can not emphasize enough the importance of ensuring that all animals in the home are held accountable to the same rules when you add an assistance dog to the family.  Raising a dog is like raising children.  Ask yourself how it would work if you permitted one child to do as they please, and held another to a stricter set of rules. It would not go well at all.  All dogs in the home MUST have obedience training.  In recognition of this,we will begin offering classes to ensure that all family pets receive their obedience training in a manner that is consistent to how obedience training is approached for SDs. We will be expanding this training to include intermediate and advanced training as we build this program.  These 5 week classes cost $120 per dog and are well worth the cost to protect the investment you have made in your SD.  See upcoming events below for dates and times.

collarsCheck out our designer collars!  These stunning Swarovski studded collars are donated by a local artist, and sold exclusively at our FSDS training location.  100% of the proceeds are directed to support the training we provide to our wounded military veterans and first responders.  Funds such as this are important to us, so if you are in the market for a new collar for everyday wear, or special events such as upcoming weddings, graduations and special family photos, please consider checking out our array of collars. Your dog will look stunning,and you will help out a deserving hero in need.

Community Professional Education – since our Grand Opening in late March we have provided training for AZ Animal Control Officers as well as security staff at local Casinos and Resorts.  It is apparent that the presence of fake SD teams in our community is creating myriad issues.  The most pressing concerns identified are:

  • access challenges that are affecting our military veterans in greater numbers and exacerbating their PTSD
  • violations of public health and sanitation code
  • public safety issues due to out of control dogs, as well as unlicensed / vaccinated dogs and issues of dog bites that have been noted – this creates potential concerns regarding exposure to rabies

We are currently at work with community professionals to gather aggregate data that will permit future decision making to be informed by fact, not opinion or anecdotal evidence.

Public Workshops

We are in the process of offering one hour community workshops to meet a variety of needs.  Among the workshops offered are:

  • Canine CPR – open to all individuals age 8 and older
  • Diabetic scent training
  • Informational workshops for individuals considering training a SD for their needs
  • Meet and Greets to connect teams
  • Puppy Play Dates for SDs to encourage socialization with other SDs and play fun training games
  • Private tutoring for individuals training their own SDs who require some limited task training assistance

Testing Services

We are now offering testing services for individuals at work to train their own service dog:

  • Temperament testing for individuals who require assistance in selecting an appropriate dog for training
  • Canine Good Citizen training for teams-in-training who wish to earn their CGC certification
  • Public Appropriateness Training for teams-in-training who recognize the value of an impartial and professional evaluation to ensure that their training is on track
  • Certification Testing through our Outreach Program for teams that have worked with a private trainer but still seek credible program certification


Our hearty congratulations to all of our student trainers on their upcoming academic achievements this month!  We have been blessed by the participation in our training program of these exceptional youths.

20181117_150025Amanda VanAsdall has been with the FSDS for several years, and has trained three SDs for individuals in need.  She is currently completing Level III: Senior Trainer in the FSDS Professional Development Training Program to earn her Senior Trainer credentials.  She plans to attend University of Tucson in the Fall and aspires to become a veterinarian.

Lindsey and BentleyLindsey Carlson successfully trained SD Bentley, who she turned over this past month to wounded military veteran Brian Brown. Lindsey is completing Level I: Novice Trainer in the FSDS Professional Development Training Program and will earn her Novice Trainer credentials in the near future.  She plans to remain with the FSDS, attend college locally and aspires to become a professional service dog trainer, with a goal of dedicating her career to serving others.

BriannaBrianna Espinosa will graduate from high school this month. She has raised two SDs for the FSDS and will be attending University of AZ in the fall.  Brianna will be formally admitted to the FSDS Evaluator Network on her 18th birthday

IMG_2022Abigail VanAsdall is graduating from middle school and will begin high school in the fall.  Abigail raised “Oliver”, who was awarded to the Peoria PD last year.  Since that time she has been a volunteer student mentor / trainer in our classroom and is doing a superb job.  Abigail plans to continue her volunteer work with the FSDS and we are excited to be a part of her journey.  She is pictured at far right (in photo) with Board Officers Dr. Svoboda and Dr. McFadden.

Wellness Tip

Valley Fever- with the monsoon season just around the corner and the danger of blowing winds and dust, we remind all SD handlers and dog owners to be vigilant for signs of Valley Fever.  This fungal infection is prevalent in desert regions, and the symptoms can range from very mild with no visible signs of illness, to severe.  There are two forms of the disease:

  • Primary – confined to the lungs and can cause a dry cough, lethargy, depression or a lack of appetite.  Sometimes symptoms can occur early, and at other times the fungus can remain dormant for as long as three years before symptoms develop.
  • Disseminated – in this form the fungus spreads to other parts of the body, especially the joints.  This can present as arthritis and can cause lameness, weight loss or swollen and painful joints.  In rarer cases it can cause blindness, or spread to the brain and cause seizures.

If your dog is showing any signs of limping, cough, decreased appetite or depression it is best to have them evaluated by your veterinarian.

Thank You So Much!

Our sincere thanks to the following individuals / organizations who have supported our program in the past month:

  • Valerie Schluter
  • DAV Auxiliary Unit 1
  • Michael and Lucy Lynch
  • Thomas and Lois Smith
  • Joseph and Linda McGrath
  • Network for Good
  • Sundt Foundation
  • Armed Forces Support Group of Sun City Grand

We also wish to express our sincere thanks to military veterans Guy Vereb and Greg Guzman for providing hands on assistance in helping to get our new facility ready for Grand Opening.

Upcoming Events

Basic Obedience:  Fridays from 4:00 p.m.  – 5:00 p.m. beginning May 24th and lasting for 5 weeks.

Basic Obedience: Saturdays from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. beginning May 25th and lasting for 5 weeks.

August 4-10:  International Assistance Dog Week

These will be posted on a regular basis on our social media pages.  Follow us on:



Photo Gallery

Many thanks to Jacqueline for sending along a photo of her beautiful girl modeling her new Emma’s Gems collar.  Doesn’t she look stunning!

IMG_1787 (3)AmandaBriannacgcGregHenrytitanIMG_5133IMG_4015IMG_4016IMG_4018