There is a secret a small cadre of teachers share that can drastically improve your class.
It works in all situations and grade levels.
It’s simple and straightforward.
It causes a giant leap in progress—from behavior and listening to work habits and attentiveness.
It’s an approach, or rule of thumb, you can abide by and count on every day.
It does take a bit of discipline, especially in the beginning.
But the results can be remarkable.
So what is it?
If ever your students aren’t giving you what you want . . .
- Stop them in their tracks.
- Reteach your expectations.
- Begin again.
Now, this very likely isn’t new to you. You may have tried this strategy in the past or believe you’re following it fairly well right now.
I call it a secret, however, because after observing hundreds of classrooms over the years, only a small percentage of teachers actually do it.
You see, it isn’t something you can dabble with or only kinda-sorta do. Trotting it out every once in a while—or even more often than not—is not only confusing to students, but it sends the message that you don’t really mean what you say.
You’d be better off not doing it at all.
But if you follow this simple script for every time your students fall short of your expectations, and really commit to it, you can transform your class. Few areas of learning and classroom management will be unaffected.
But again, it must be an every lesson, every routine, and everyday part of your classroom culture.
The strategy works because it forces you, as a natural consequence, to become extraordinarily effective with your initial instruction. At the same time, it causes students to become strong, active, and tenacious listeners and doers.
In other words, it holds both you and them accountable for performing your jobs well.
In time, you’ll become so good at communicating what you want, whether how to work in groups, turn in assignments, select a library book, or anything else for that matter, that the exact vision you have for your students will materialize before your eyes.
Reality will match your mind’s eye to a scary degree.
Your students in turn will become experts at knowing what it is you want and translating it into action. This is no pie-in-the-sky scenario. However, there is a caveat.
When you first begin using the steps in earnest, it may be slow going, especially if you try putting them into practice mid-year. Your class may be so used to half listening, or not listening at all, that you’ll have to repeat nearly everything you do.
You may feel as if you’re falling behind your grade-level counterparts or that you’re never going to get through all that you need to teach.
But if you stick with it, the light will flicker on, bright and clear as the coastal sun.
Your students will realize that when you give an instruction, when you teach and model what you want in explicit detail, or just make a simple request, you really do mean for them to follow it.
Every day will get a little better. Every day your class will get sharper, faster, and more efficient. Eventually, you’ll have more time than you’ll know what to do with.
Furthermore, you’ll be able to offer the kind of accurate, worthy praise that matters to students and pushes them on to greater and greater levels of accomplishment.
But it starts with an all-or-nothing commitment to mean what you say, to make your actions congruent with your words. After all, raising expectations isn’t about what you say.
It’s what you do.
If you haven’t done so already, please join us. It’s free! Click here and begin receiving classroom management articles like this one in your email box every week.