As a Dynamic Principal you don’t have to be Darth Vader and force students to do what you like. There are three simple psychological techniques that can help change students’ behavior and your interactions with them.
Go to Dagaboh
Change the environment when meeting with a student. According to Psychology Today, [priming] refers to activating particular representations in memory just before carrying out an action or a task. For example, most students associate the principal’s office with discipline and their defenses and anxiety go up. They’ve been primed to expect negative consequences. This shuts down higher brain functions.
To combat this, instead of meeting in your office meet in the media center or talk while taking a stroll through the building or outside. You will find that students will be more inclined to have a conversation instead of inventing stories and excuses.
Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy . ..
Another simple technique is in language modification. Everybody want to feel like they belong, students in particular want to fit in. By simply changing a word from a verb to a noun you can influence students.
Say you would like students to have more grit. Instead of saying, “It is important for you to continue to work hard.” You would say, “It’s important for you to continue to be a hard worker.” Using the noun worker implies they are part of a larger group of students who are also workers. This provides the social inclusion that students need helping to create change.
These are not the droids you are looking for . . .
The third technique is a modification of the tried and true ‘decoy’ used in sales. This is when the sales person offers three different options. One of the options only purpose is to make the more expensive offer look like a better deal.
This technique could be used when it comes to the point where you have to administer a consequence. You would provide options: two lunch detentions, a lunch detention and a saturday detention, or a day in in school suspension. The in school suspension would be your decoy. Most kids would not choose a day in in school suspension. (we all know some kids who would though :-) That leaves you two options with the two lunch detentions obviously looking like a better deal then having to come in on a Saturday. Most students will make the choice of the two lunch detention.
By using the decoy technique you’ve given the student choice and can still administer the consequence for the negative behavior.
Dynamic Principals do not surrender to the dark side of the force and compel student behavior through force. Like Yoda we teach and guide sometimes without the students even knowing. How do you create change in student behavior? Leave your Jedi training tip below.
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......