A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of explaining ‘why’ when presenting your classroom management plan.
Studies have shown that people are more likely to do what you ask if you give them a reason.
Even if that reason isn’t terribly compelling.
Just using the word “because” will make your rules more meaningful.
And therefore more effective.
Especially if you emphasize their true purpose, which is to protect your students’ right to learn and enjoy school.
When you make it about them, they’re more likely to buy into your program and even agree with your rules.
And this makes all the difference.
But in that original article we alluded to another reason why this strategy is so effective.
You see, the use of reasoning also sends the message that you respect your students. It sends the message that what is best for them is your highest priority.
It lets them know that you understand what it’s like being in their shoes.
To that end—and this is key here—be sure to include how their non-compliance of the rules affects those around them.
Empathy is a powerful emotion.
And it is especially effective in changing behavior and attitudes and getting everyone pulling in the same direction.
When you fail to explain your reasoning, and how rule-breaking makes your classroom less fun and less conducive to learning, you send a message of antagonism.
You push them away.
You communicate loud and clear that it’s your way or the highway, that they should do what you ask because you said so.
This authoritarian approach to the beginning of the school year causes dislike, rebelliousness, and a desire to misbehave behind your back—which is difficult to reverse.
This doesn’t mean that you’ll be wishy-washy. It doesn’t mean that you’re giving up your leadership or that your rules are negotiable.
It just means that you’re going to give your students the respect they so greatly appreciate by explaining ‘why.’
Interestingly, the research, as described in Adam Grant’s book Originals, shows that not only does explaining why lead to more rule following, it causes children to question rules that don’t line up with societal expectations.
In other words, it causes them to become future leaders and creative thinkers.
And when they do misbehave?
If they know ahead of time how their actions affect others, if they know why a particular rule benefits the class as a whole, then they feel remorse.
They feel the healthy weight of guilt and responsibility. They accept the consequences, see the error of their ways, and reflect on their misbehavior.
They resolve not to make the same mistakes again.
So, when you’re teaching your classroom management plan at the beginning of the school year, be sure and explain why your rules are important.
Explain how they exist for their benefit.
Explain how breaking them affects the peace, enjoyment, and learning rights of everyone in the class.
Do this, and your students will eagerly jump on board your program.
And begin rowing in the same direction.
PS – On July 14th, I’ll be presenting at the Art of Education summer conference. For more information, click here.
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