As we begin to wind up our school year and look to the next we know change is coming. As principals one of our main objectives is to influence positive change within our schools. Reflecting on the past year, this may seem impossible, especially when trying to change behaviors around homework, attendance and basic soft skills. In reading through the book Influencer The Power To Change Anything.I came upon three techniques that might help change student and staff thoughts and behaviors around these school struggles. These three tips are all from chapter four of the the book.
One of the issues teachers regularly complain about is that students rarely do homework. I’ve heard both sides of the debate and am pretty sure that regardless of where you land the fact that it can, at a minimum, impact a student's’ grade is not. In thinking about a way to encourage the completion of homework this particular point “Make it a game”, in chapter four came to mind. I asked myself how can I make homework a game so students want to do it instead of dread doing it? The answer I came up with to create a huge dry erase board with all the students’ name on it and place it in our community room. When they complete a homework assignment they can place a marker of some kind on the board. Once they complete a certain number of assignments they can make it to the next level. Once they reach the next level they get a prize. Once a week when we meet we can pass out prizes and recognize those students who have moved to the next level. By making homework a game I’m hoping to positively influence my students’ academic outcomes.
I am whoever I say I am
This idea was one of the other suggestions the authors of Influencer have for those looking to create change. This idea only works if you and your staff find time to really get to know your students and understand who they think they are. Most of my students have brothers and sisters and feel intensely loyal to their siblings. The question becomes how to attach this new behavior (doing homework consistently) to their sense of loyalty. In thinking of ways to do this I came up with the idea of students having to take a selfie with a family member once they’ve completed their homework and then, upon showing that picture to a staff member, they get the opportunity to win a bonus prize for their entire family. The prize could be as simple as delivering a pizza to the family’s residence and acknowledging the student in front of their family.
The power of choice
This was the last strategy in the chapter and there is a quote that I found especially impactful. The authors say, “You must replace judgement with empathy, and lectures with questions. If you do so, you gain influence. The instant you stop trying to impose your agenda on others, you eliminate the fight for control.” So how does this relate to students and homework? Perhaps you give students a choice of what kind of homework they do. By giving them this control you could increase the likelihood of them completing the task and reinforcing what they’ve learned. Students like staff need to feel as if they have some autonomy, giving them choice gives them what they need to help them change their behaviors.
Changing students lives is why we’ve become principals. The book Influencer The Power To Change Anything provides some suggestions to do just that. What are some of the books that you’ve read that have great insight into changing behaviors? Leave your suggestions in the comment section below.
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For more short articles and tips that support educational leaders check out my blog at the http://www.theprincipalentrepreneur.com/ and/or pre order my newest book How To Be A Great Principal: 36 Shared Leadership Success Strategies. If you’re an auditory learner you can download my podcast The Principal Entrepreneur, new episodes weekly. To join the podcast as a guest email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, I’m part of a community of supportive principals please join our private FB group.
I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......