21 Ways To Improve Student Motivation

By Teach Thought Staff

The best lessons, books, and materials in the world won’t get students excited about learning and willing to work hard if they’re not motivated.

Motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic, is a key factor in the success of students at all stages of their education, and teachers can play a pivotal role in providing and encouraging that motivation in their students. Of course that’s much easier said than done, as all students are motivated differently and it takes time and a lot of effort to learn to get a classroom full of kids enthusiastic about learning, working hard, and pushing themselves to excel.

Even the most well-intentioned and educated teachers sometimes lack the skills to keep kids on track, so whether you’re a new teacher or an experienced one, try using these methods to motivate your students and to encourage them to live up to their true potential.

21 Simple Ideas To Improve Student Motivation

1. Give students a sense of control.

While guidance from a teacher is important to keeping kids on task and motivated, allowing students to have some choice and control over what happens in the classroom is actually one of the best ways to keep them engaged. For example, allowing students to choose the type of assignment they do or which problems to work on can give them a sense of control that may just motivate them to do more.

2. Define the objectives.
It can be very frustrating for students to complete an assignment or even to behave in class if there aren’t clearly defined objectives. Students want and need to know what is expected of them in order to stay motivated to work. At the beginning of the year, lay out clear objectives, rules, and expectations of students so that there is no confusion and students have goals to work towards.

3. Create a threat-free environment.
While students do need to understand that there are consequences to their actions, far more motivating for students than threats are positive reinforcements. When teachers create a safe, supportive environment for students, affirming their belief in a student’s abilities rather than laying out the consequences of not doing things, students are much more likely to get and stay motivated to do their work. At the end of the day, students will fulfill the expectations that the adults around them communicate, so focus on can, not can’t.

4. Change your scenery.
A classroom is a great place for learning, but sitting at a desk day in and day out can make school start to seem a bit dull for some students. To renew interest in the subject matter or just in learning in general, give your students a chance to get out of the classroom. Take field trips, bring in speakers, or even just head to the library for some research. The brain loves novelty and a new setting can be just what some students need to stay motivated to learn.

5. Offer varied experiences.

Not all students will respond to lessons in the same way. For some, hands-on experiences may be the best. Others may love to read books quietly or to work in groups. In order to keep all students motivated, mix up your lessons so that students with different preferences will each get time focused on the things they like best. Doing so will help students stay engaged and pay attention.

6. Use positive competition.
Competition in the classroom isn’t always a bad thing, and in some cases can motivate students to try harder and work to excel. Work to foster a friendly spirit of competition in your classroom, perhaps through group games related to the material or other opportunities for students to show off their knowledge.

7. Offer rewards.
Everyone likes getting rewards, and offering your students the chance to earn them is an excellent source of motivation. Things like pizza parties, watching movies, or even something as simple as a sticker on a paper can make students work harder and really aim to achieve. Consider the personalities and needs of your students to determine appropriate rewards for your class.

8. Give students responsibility.
Assigning students classroom jobs is a great way to build a community and to give students a sense of motivation. Most students will see classroom jobs as a privilege rather than a burden and will work hard to ensure that they, and other students, are meeting expectations. It can also be useful to allow students to take turns leading activities or helping out so that each feels important and valued.

9. Allow students to work together.
While not all students will jump at the chance to work in groups, many will find it fun to try to solve problems, do experiments, and work on projects with other students. The social interaction can get them excited about things in the classroom and students can motivate one another to reach a goal. Teachers need to ensure that groups are balanced and fair, however, so that some students aren’t doing more work than others.

10. Give praise when earned.
There is no other form of motivation that works quite as well as encouragement. Even as adults we crave recognition and praise, and students at any age are no exception. Teachers can give students a bounty of motivation by rewarding success publicly, giving praise for a job well done, and sharing exemplary work.

11. Encourage self-reflection.
Most kids want to succeed; they just need help figuring out what they need to do in order to get there. One way to motivate your students is to get them to take a hard look at themselves and determine their own strengths and weaknesses. Students are often much more motivated by creating these kinds of critiques of themselves than by having a teacher do it for them, as it makes them feel in charge of creating their own objectives and goals.

12. Be excited.
One of the best ways to get your students motivated is to share your enthusiasm. When you’re excited about teaching, they’ll be much more excited about learning. It’s that simple.

13. Know your students.
Getting to know your students is about more than just memorizing their names. Students need to know that their teacher has a genuine interest in them and cares about them and their success. When students feel appreciated it creates a safe learning environment and motivates them to work harder, as they want to get praise and good feedback from someone they feel knows and respects them as individuals.

14. Harness student interests.
Knowing your students also has some other benefits, namely that it allows you to relate classroom material to things that students are interested in or have experienced. Teachers can use these interests to make things more interesting and relatable to students, keeping students motivated for longer.

15. Help students find intrinsic motivation.
It can be great to help students get motivated, but at the end of the day they need to be able to generate their own motivation. Helping students find their own personal reasons for doing class work and working hard, whether because they find material interesting, want to go to college, or just love to learn, is one of the most powerful gifts you can give them.

16. Manage student anxiety.
Some students find the prospect of not doing well so anxiety-inducing that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. For these students, teachers may find that they are most motivated by learning that struggling with a subject isn’t the end of the world. Offer support no matter what the end result is and ensure that students don’t feel so overwhelmed by expectations that they just give up.

17. Make goals high but attainable.
If you’re not pushing your students to do more than the bare minimum, most won’t seek to push themselves on their own. Students like to be challenged and will work to achieve high expectations so long as they believe those goals to be within their reach, so don’t be afraid to push students to get more out of them.

18. Give feedback and offer chances to improve.
Students who struggle with class work can sometimes feel frustrated and get down on themselves, draining motivation. In these situations it’s critical that teachers help students to learn exactly where they went wrong and how they can improve next time. Figuring out a method to get where students want to be can also help them to stay motivated to work hard.

19. Track progress.
It can be hard for students to see just how far they’ve come, especially with subjects that are difficult for them. Tracking can come in handy in the classroom, not only for teachers but also for students. Teachers can use this as a way to motivate students, allowing them to see visually just how much they are learning and improving as the year goes on.

20. Make things fun.
Not all class work needs to be a game or a good time, but students who see school as a place where they can have fun will be more motivated to pay attention and do the work that’s required of them than those who regard it as a chore. Adding fun activities into your school day can help students who struggle to stay engaged and make the classroom a much more friendly place for all students.

21. Provide opportunities for success.
Students, even the best ones, can become frustrated and demotivated when they feel like they’re struggling or not getting the recognition that other students are. Make sure that all students get a chance to play to their strengths and feel included and valued. It can make a world of difference in their motivation.

 

My Kid Will Make It

The spring thaw, don’t you just love it; waiting for the crocuses to come up and the grass to turn green. For over fifty years this was the time of year that I lived for. The boys of summer, 162 games in 180 days, what fun? I am not a participant any longer just a spectator. Every summer though from the time I was eight years old until I was thirty five that’s what I did, I played baseball. As a kid the dream was to become a professional baseball player and do it for a living. I am sure that kids today have those same dreams and can see themselves hitting the homerun that wins the World Series or pitching a no-hitter. It was such a fantasy fest and we all did fantasize, but alas none of us made it. We played in and out of uniform, organized and pick up, honed our skills, took batting practice and we all thought we were so darn good, but not good enough. There were some guys in the town that I lived in that were so good that we figured we would be watching them someday playing for the Yankees. Not so.

I started doing the math many years ago and finally worked out the numbers. There are about three thousand professional baseball players in the United States and that includes minor league teams. I am not including Japan or other countries that play in the World Baseball Classic every four years. There are eight billion people living on the planet. The chances are greater that a kid will be hit by lightning than becoming a professional baseball player. Professional baseball players are the cream, cream, cream of the crop and have certain physical abilities that are innate to them and only them. When scouts talk about a five tool player they refer to a player’s ability to run with speed, has a strong throwing arm, can hit for average and hit with power, and can field their position well. These are all God given abilities that improve with practice but really it’s all about natural talent.

I am not too concerned about teenagers understanding those numbers, I think they do, but I don’t think that parents have a clear understanding of those statistics and further more believe that their kid is going to be the next Mickey Mantle. It’s not the belief that’s troubling it’s what parent’s do with those beliefs that can make life miserable for a lot of people.

Let’s be clear, coach’s coach, parent’s parent, and player’s play, anytime these three things get co-mingled and they start stepping on each others toes it is a recipe for disaster with the player losing and I don’t mean the game. Let’s take a look at what happens when each person in the group above doesn’t know how to do their job, creates unrealistic expectations, and starts telling others how to do their job.

Coaches Coach
Coaching at times can be tougher than teaching. When a teacher teaches they are in a classroom with their students and unless they are being observed by an administrator no one is watching. A coach during a game and at times during practice could be being watched by large portion of the community in which they work. They do this job at times for little or no money, they invest hours of their time into trying to help improve the athletic ability of someone else’ kids, and can be under appreciated and criticized unmercifully by parents and at times by their own players. Parents I might add who have unrealistic expectations of their own child’s ability and talent. I realize that parents are required to read and sign the handbook that lays out the rules for participation and they should realize their place during games but all too often in communities where sports is the center piece parents continually discuss the coach and sadly hold these conversations within earshot of their children. The coach becomes the object of rumors and gossip and is placed under the community microscope with parents chomping at the bit for the coach to provide them the evidence to support their belief. This is all started because of the agendas of a few disgruntled parents who believe that their kid should play every game even if their kid is not the best pitching choice for the game that day. Teachers are hired for their expertise in a subject area and are left alone to deliver content to their students. When they are allowed to call upon their own creativity and don’t feel intimidated by parents, and potentially administration they feel more confident and relaxed while doing their job. Coaches are hired to coach and they need to be left alone to deliver their expertise to their players. Parents who interfere with the coach while he is doing his job place undue pressure on him/her and rob the players of the joy of competition, and camaraderie. So if you are a parent do your kid a favor and leave the coach alone. He was given the job by a school district or a community that believed in him and his abilities to teach kids a sport and to get the best out of his players. Let the coach; coach and let him/her do what they love doing.

Parents Parent
Your kid may be good at his sport but unless he/she is the next Bryce Harper their not making the pros. So why put all kinds of performance related pressure on this kid. By the way if you ask any professional baseball player what their parents were like when they were in little league they will tell you that their parents said to just go out and have fun; for the love of the game and nothing else. As a matter of fact that’s why they made it to the pros because of the no pressure or expectations attitude. Parents need to parent and that means to encourage, nurture natural talents, and to balance rules and regulations with compassion and understanding. Parents are their kid’s life coach and need to point their kids in the right direction by instilling in them lifelong values and character training that breads success in the future. The minute that baseball or any other sport becomes the benchmark for success any game related failures will result in the kid feeling like a failure in other areas of his life and lose the confidence necessary to move forward. So, be a parent not a coach, leave the coaching to the coaches and work with your kid to be the best he can be as a person not as a player. If they are good people they will be good players. Use sports as a vehicle to help your son/daughter show off who they really are; someone with character and values, who respects his teammates and opponents, and understands that there is only one person in charge during games and practices and that’s the coach.

Players Play
Players play; think about that we call those who participate on sports teams players. Not workers, players. What does it mean to play? It means you have fun, you do it willingly, and you can’t wait to start doing it. You enjoy it. Is that what our kids experience today when they are involved as a player on a sports team? I don’t know, what I do know is I have seen enough kids being forced to go to Tuesday night soccer practice and Saturday morning games. Many kids today only play on organized teams and to them once the game becomes something that is organized by adults the word play doesn’t enter into the equation. Furthermore kids don’t know how to play today. They don’t know how to organize themselves and play pick-up games. Often, some leagues are in townships and the kids live miles apart and they don’t have anyone to play with and sharpen the skills that they learned at practice. Kids need to run around together alone and learn how to solve problems alone with adult coaching and not with adults hovering over them offering correction because their swing was off or they don’t know how to catch a fly ball. So let the kids play, if we don’t playing won’t be playing anymore it will be work.

So What Do We Do?
The solution is rather simple, let the kids play and stay out of each others way; easier said than done. I have been asked for solutions to problems by teachers and parents alike. My response at times has been “I am going to tell you what to do but, you’re probably not going to do it.” They either can’t or won’t do it. Ego’s are too big and when there are folks who have some power they use it to get what they want even when it is not in the best interest of the team or a group. School districts and communities are controlled by the minority who don’t always want what’s best for a group. Sometimes parents don’t always want what’s best for their own kid and they live vicariously through them hoping that they will somehow bring completion to their own unfinished life. As a society we have lost some real professional and personal wisdom and we want to dismantle the playground because one kid fell off the monkey bars. Our kids are looking to us for answers but we are too busy arguing with each other. They then look to each other and have their friends parent them by proxy creating what Robert Bly called “The Sibling Society” where the ground is level and no one is in charge.

As adults we have created this culture in a very innocent and unwitting way, and now we have to dismantle the Frankenstein Monster. We have to stop telling parents and kids what they want to hear and be truthful about their academic and sports related ability regardless of any unrealistic parental expectations. Billy Beane of Moneyball fame was drafted in the first round by the New York Mets right out of high school. He was identified by scouts as that five tool player we spoke about earlier. He played for a short time in the major leagues and then went into scouting. He never made it as a player but became a successful general manager of the Oakland Athletics. He was successful but not as the player that everyone though he would be.

When Bryce Harper made it to the pros as an outfielder for the Washington Nationals Davey Johnson the then manager of the team asked him how he felt, Harper responded; “This is the most relaxed I have ever been in my entire life.” Harper knew that he was hit by lightening and that he was the one in eight billion who became a professional baseball player. He truly did make it. Everyone else will have to just keep on trying but in reality all kids have the potential to be great people but not professional athletes. Even if a kid gets a scholarship and is all state in his sport he will always be a big fish in a small pond so let the kid have fun, let the coaches coach, and help parents understand how unrealistic expectations can do more harm than good.

Ten Reasons Why Educators Need Professional Development On the Topic of Student Behavior Management

Introduction

Since the dawn of public education teachers and schools have focused on the academic achievement of students. All students were expected to leave school with basic reading writing and math skills. Some kids excelled and went on to institutions of higher learning, some were trained at a trade such as carpentry, or auto mechanics, and still others left school with those basics and worked at more labor related jobs such as factory or office work. Everyone who left secondary school did have the basics just at different levels. Every student may not have had the capacity to go to college but just about everyone finished school and had the ability to function in the real world. With the onslaught of state mandated testing in so many school districts throughout the country teachers are still pressured to ensure that students achieve but the landscape has changed and hitting the bull’s eye is far more difficult than it was say forty years ago. The bull’s eye is tough to hit because teachers are now being asked to hit a moving target. The target keeps moving because the levels of disrespect, and irresponsibility pervades our schools and basically you can’t hit something that won’t sit still, keep quiet, come prepared, stay motivated, and who really has taken no ownership for their own education.

Local and state boards persist though in their belief that success is based upon achievement not on effort and character. The faulty philosophies that have come out of some of our colleges that focuses more on methods of instruction rather than behavior management has both young and veteran teachers alike trying to figure out how to hit that moving target. In schools right now we don’t need one more test, or in-service that helps teacher’s understand how to teach to the test we need a comprehensive program that focuses squarely on student behavior management, teaching respect, and encouraging responsibility. Our young teachers who have been in the field for between three to five years may not know any different and are hounded daily regarding the academic achievement of students whose behavior is out of control, and veteran teachers who have done a good job of reading the tea leaves are planning for retirement because the work load is increasing to the point that it is becoming unmanageable.

Our focus in education needs to be on steadying the target and improving student behavior, not on improving test scores. If we begin to focus on behavior, character, and effort rather than achievement test scores will naturally go up because we will begin to develop willing learners.
Colleges need to provide stronger training in the area of behavior management for future teachers and we need to provide more comprehensive training in the area of behavior management for teachers who are now in the field. Here are ten good reasons why:
1. Take a look at the schools
The behavior in our schools has deteriorated to the point that we don’t worry about school violence we worry more about school shootings. We are forced to get everyone to the finish line without mastery of basic content. So many kids come into schools with negative learned behaviors that we are forced to develop conditions to support the behavior. It would either be invent the condition or throw the kids out, but you can’t throw out the entire twenty to thirty percent of the chronic behavior problems. These kids aren’t going anywhere and they are going to make it tough for kids who want to learn to learn. So, if we want to teach the other seventy five to eighty percent we better figure out how to manage behavior problems.
2. This isn’t forty years ago
Let’s face it years ago parents supported the school and dealt with their child’s misbehavior. Today we have to fight the kid, the parent, and at times city hall. In addition the behaviors that we dealt with forty years ago were of the garden variety like having a playground fight, or goofing off in class. Today the levels of disrespect, and irresponsibility, are at such high levels that younger teachers have begun to view some of the behaviors as the “new norm” and anytime there is the slightest improvement they fall all over the kid with praise causing the kid to feel good about himself for no apparent reason.
3. Standardized testing is not a measure of achievement
Teachers are trained to teach to the test. Even for content related testing during the year there is this unspoken fear of failing a kid. Most kids have an inflated view of their academic ability and don’t realize their shortcomings until later in life when grades are more meaningful. Good grades are nice, but mastery is better. Students move through grade after grade with un-mastered skills and a lack of the necessary prerequisites to learn new information. This produces frustration, anxiety, and tension resulting in behavior problems.
4. Life is about Relationships
Ask any employer. They are more concerned about the attitude of their employee than whether or not they can do the job. They believe that they can always teach a person the skills on their job description, but they can’t teach the person how to get along. School is supposed to be a microcosm of society. Employers want their employee’s to be respectful, responsible, have a good attitude, can get along, show up, and are on time. Sound like school? If this is what employers want we should be teaching it; that is if we can find the time in the overly ambitious curriculum that is being used to help prime a kid to pass a test.

5. We don’t know how to have productive conflict
There are so many intergenerational dysfunctional problems in our families, schools, and in society in general that faculty rooms have become discussion forums. No answers, just discussions. The topic of the day here is the inability to confront each other, a student, parent, or an issue, or maybe our own demons. Productive conflict is something that is taught it is not an innate skill. Teachers may have difficulty with conflict strictly based upon their own life imprint. It is a skill that needs to be taught to our student’s so they can have disagreement and do it with the right attitude, and they can cooperate even though they may disagree. When this skill is not taught, power struggles are inevitable and relationships get strained. Some families don’t even talk to each other because of an unsettled youth conflict that became an adult conflict. Don’t worry once kids know this they’ll pass the test.
6. There are too many adults with poor attitudes
Kids are kids for a short period of time. Then they become adults; with the same crummy attitudes. Even the most intelligent of adults can have such arrogance that they are painful to be around. This is the other eighty percent of our school population. Knowledge without character produces this type know it all mentality. They were once kids who did well in school but never developed the character in order to know how to make the best use of their intelligence.
7. Our students lack empathy
As a society we just don’t have the same concern for each other as we once did. By this I am referring to the overall concern that a family has for the elderly couple up the street when there is a heavy snow fall, or helping someone with a dead battery, or bringing meals to a shut in. Adults don’t care as they once did and our kids care even less. There are too many students who stand around in school when someone is being bullied. Let’s make sure that they pass the test.
8. Bullying behavior is on the rise
Hurt people hurt people. Bullies come from dysfunctional families, are angry, and take out their anger on others. They made that decision around the age of five. Everyone knew there was something wrong but not enough was done to quell his/her misery. Early intervention didn’t happen and we ended up with a bully on our hands who interferes with the learning of others and creates an emotionally unsafe learning environment for everyone. Let’s take a test.
9. Kids seek revenge
It’s not enough to get even anymore and have a fair fight and get it over with. Revenge is the way today and kids don’t want a pound of flesh, they want a pound of your flesh and the flesh of five others. Victims who have been bullied don’t know how to fight back or have a productive conflict they digest the abuse and then act out when the time is right. Stop testing and start strengthening the victim. You will help them pass the test.
10. Some kids may be smart but they lack wisdom, and common sense
The smartest kids in the class could be the most deviant, and make the poorest choices. There are more kids today that can’t even make the smallest decision and can be led around by the nose by the wrong crowd. Smart doesn’t mean wise and at times even the smartest kids can lie, cheat, steal, and abuse others. Maybe even better than the average kid. There are all kinds smart and this kid is one dimensional, but he will pass the test.

Programs Needed

Motivating Disaffected and Hard To Handle Students

Designed For Teachers, Administrators, Guidance Counselors, Child Study Team Members, or Any Youth Care Provider
• Learn the symptoms of difficult students and treatment plans that work
• Build respect and rapport with your most difficult students
• Understand why students don’t care
• Develop language that confronts without condemning
• Break through the emotional wall of your students and increase motivation and responsibility
• Strengthen relationships with your students

There is a direct relationship between motivation and discipline. The hard to motivate are often hard to discipline. Teachers are becoming increasingly more frustrated and are asking what we do with students who are not prepared, don’t care, will not work, and are on track for failure as adults. Finding tools and strategies to increase motivation can solve many behavior problems. There are many things educators can do to reawaken motivation in students who have lost interest and perhaps hope. This seminar helps teachers develop techniques that build respect, increase responsibility, and develop greater compliance in students who are hard to handle. It helps teachers overcome the strong emotional frustration that saps their energy and ultimately leads to burnout.
Six Principles That Help Educators Help Students
1. Design – All students are designed in a unique way. This program helps teachers understand the problems that difficult students face and how we can improve their self-esteem and permanently change their behavior.
2. Authority – Help students understand the definition of maturity. Teach them respond to authority correctly to create more emotional freedom.
3. Responsibility – Learn the five key areas students are responsible for and stop their reactive and escalating behavior.
4. Ownership – Help students manage anger. Students will understand that they are not victims but people who can control their own responses.
5. Success – Help your students find answers to problems that occur and give them hope for the future. Get students to respond correctly in key relationships.
6. Problem Solving – Give your students the skills to self generate behaviors that build independence and maturity.
You Will Learn How To:
• Emphasize effort, create hope, build relationships, respect power, and express enthusiasm
• Teach respect, responsibility, and compliance
• Build relationships with even the most difficult students
• Establish guidelines for correcting inappropriate behavior
• Use the three-step process for correcting behaviors that works without fail
• Give a warning that communicates you say what you mean and mean what you say
• Build a student’s self esteem
• Help a student control his anger
• Teach relationship skills that work for a lifetime
• Keep students on task and focused
• Use visual cues that prevent confrontations and stop power struggles

The Bully Proof Classroom

Bullying has become an epidemic in our schools. However it is defined, bullying is not just child’s play, but a terrifying experience many American school children face every day. It can be as direct as teasing, hitting, or threatening, or indirect as exclusion, rumors, or manipulation. During the past decade, bullying has become more lethal and has occurred more frequently than it had in the previous two decades. Bullying can no longer be explained away, as some adults are inclined to do, as a normal part of growing up. Bullying has only harmful, not beneficial, effects for the target and the perpetrator- even the bystander. Many children in our nation filled with fear and intimidation because they are bullied and victimized daily. Bullying exacts a terrible toll on children, and the scars can last a lifetime” (nea.org). This workshop is designed to give teachers, parents, and students the necessary information to stop this epidemic from spreading any further.

This seminar will help your staff answer the following questions:
• What is bullying?
• What are the characteristics of bullies and victims?
• How prevalent is bullying?
• What actions and behaviors constitute bullying?
• What are the early warning signs of troubled children and those at risk for bullying behavior?
• How can we help the victims cope and deal with a bully?

This seminar will provide for staff, administration, students, and parents:
• Ideology: Bullying terminology and definitions
• Warning signs and characteristics of bullies and targets
• How to develop respect, responsibility and compliance in children
• Foundations of good character; teach students character qualities they will need for life-long success
• Strategies that help bullies and targets improve their coping skills

The New 3R’s in Education
Respect, Responsibility, and Relationships
The True Basics For All Success In life

Everybody knows what the 3 R’s of teaching are – reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. But educators don’t totally understand that in order to teach these basic subjects successfully, they must constantly be working to develop respect and responsibility in their students. No longer can it be assumed that children develop these attitudes at home. Plus, teachers must learn how to build positive relationships with their students. Strong teacher-student relationships naturally foster a positive and safe learning environment where much learning will take place and where all students will become capable, connected, and contributing members of their classrooms.

Learn Practical Strategies That Will Teach The New 3r’s
1. Teach respect, responsibility, and compliance
2. Learn how to build strong positive relationships with students and parents
3. Understand how principles, rules, and procedures create a secure safe environment
4. Create a fair, and consistent learning environment that will be calming to even your most difficult students
5. Understand how to give instruction, warnings, and correction
6. Receive a set of effective consequences for grades K-12 that will impact future behavior
7. Practice proven verbal responses you can use in a crisis situation
8. Build respect and rapport with your most difficult students
9. Develop language that confronts without condemning
10. Break through the emotional wall of your students and increase motivation and responsibility

Defusing Power Struggles With Your Most
Difficult Students And Parents

Designed For Teachers, Administrators, Guidance Counselors, Child Study Team Members, Or Any Youth Care Provider
• Learn the symptoms of power struggles and how to deal with them
• Build respect and rapport with your most difficult students
• Develop language that confronts without condemning
• Break through the emotional wall of your students and increase motivation, compliance and responsibility
• Strengthen relationships with your students and parents

A Proactive Approach For Dealing With Power Struggles
Effective discipline can no longer be achieved solely through using authority. A typical school today has some students who have short fuses, and some who anger easily. Students today may make offensive statements and act in a hostile manner that can trigger a power struggle. Often, too much instructional time is lost because of minor disruptions that all too quickly escalate into classroom battles that destroy relationships and any positive climate that exists. To keep the focus on educational achievement educators must master how to avoid and diffuse power struggles. This practical workshop will present easy-to-learn methods of effective intervention that preserve students’ and teachers’ personal dignity.

Learn Practical Strategies That Prevent Power Struggles
1. Teach respect, responsibility, and compliance
2. Learn the warning signs for the onset of a power struggle
3. Learn how to build strong positive relationships with students and parents
4. Understand how principles, rules, and procedures create a secure safe environment
5. Create a fair, and consistent learning environment that will be calming to even your most difficult students
6. Learn proactive language that will diffuse potential power struggles, and allow you to gracefully exit from power struggles that do erupt.
7. Learn Techniques You Can Use When A Student Has Too Much Power In Your Classroom
8. Learn fogging techniques that distract and disarm the verbally aggressive student
9. Understand how to give instruction, warnings, and correction
10. Receive a set of effective consequences for grades K-12 that will impact future behavior
11. Practice proven verbal responses you can use in a crisis situation

Climate Control For
Your School and Classroom

This Conference Will Provide Teachers, Administrators, Anti Bullying Specialists and Coordinators with the Necessary Skills and Strategies to Help Teach Respect, Encourage Responsibility, Reduce Bullying Events, and Improve The Overall Behavioral Climate in Their Classroom and School.

This conference will help answer the following questions:
1. What are the characteristics of positive classroom/school climate?
2. Why is classroom/school climate so important?
3. How do I encourage respect?
4. What do I do with disrespectful behavior now?
5. How do I increase student accountability and build greater student responsibility?
6. How does an improved school and classroom climate increase student achievement?
7. Why is it so important for kids to feel emotionally safe?
8. What do I do with disrespectful and unsupportive parents?
9. How can we help the victims cope and deal with a bully?
This conference will provide for staff, administration, and
child care professionals:
1. 12 Strategies to help improve classroom/school climate
2. How to develop respect, responsibility and compliance in all students
3. How teach students character qualities they will need for life-long success
4. Strategies that help bullies and targets improve their coping skills
5. How to develop a code of conduct that can be effectively communicated to all students
6. How to be more effective in changing student behavior
7. The importance of getting and keeping everyone working on the same school goals

Become Your Personal Best

A in-service for teachers, administrators, CST members, guidance personnel, support staff or anyone who wants to learn powerful principles in personal change

What This In-Service Will Do For Educators:
1. Learn the principles of personal growth and change
2. Begin to understand who you really are and what your purpose is
3. Build powerful relationships with co-workers and superiors
4. Develop effective communication skills to use with parents, students, superiors, co-workers
5. Learn how to become part of the solution rather than complaining about problems
6. Build rapport with the most difficult co-workers and parents
7. Learn how to be proactive rather than reactive
8. Learn how to build security and confidence through your own success
9. Learn wise time management
10. Build team building skills
11. Learn how to identify problems in your own value system and how to improve it
12. Restore the character ethic to your own life
13. Develop a balance in your physical, mental, and social and emotional life

A Proactive Approach For Dealing With Life
In education, we constantly have sought to improve the behavior and the academic achievement of our students. Almost every continuing education workshop or class is designed to help educators accomplish this. Even though this is valuable, these workshops fail to address the idea that it is the character of the teacher that will affect students’ success in the classroom and ultimately in life. Educators can fall into the trap of becoming so focused on the deficits of others, i.e. the students, the parents, supervisors, child study members, and co-workers that they become less concerned about their own areas of weakness. This workshop is designed to teach your educators how to become more self-aware and give them strategies to personally strengthen their value system and their character. The effect of your educators moving closer to becoming self-actualized will be that they will become more effective in their respective roles, and they will be much better equipped to meet the needs of all of their students.

You Will Learn How To:
Realize Your Ultimate Personal Potential And
Become The Best Educator You Can Be

Character Is Everything

Changing Student Behavior from the Inside Out

Designed For Teachers, Administrators, Guidance Counselors, Child Study Team Members, Or Any Youth Care Provider
1. Create an awareness in students, teachers, and administrators of the importance of character and its relationship to achievement
2. Build relationships with your most difficult students
3. Understand the root problems behind lack of student achievement
4. Develop language that confronts without condemning
5. Understand the Emotional Bank Account and make deposits of praise and acceptance

Proactive Approach For Dealing With Behavior Problems
Much has been said over the years about the student who is difficult to manage, and who exhibits behaviors that lack a moral compass. Educators and child-care providers need strategies that address the pervasive problems of disrespect, irresponsibility and a lack of compassion for their fellow students. In this seminar Jim Burns addresses the problems that are at the root of these behaviors. Character training truly makes a difference in the outcome of a student’s life. As a student builds character he/she will become more successful. Students who are taught character qualities such as honesty, reliability, diligence, and respect learn to change their behaviors from the inside out and truly understand how to self generate positive behaviors, and have a change of heart, not just a change of mind.

Qualities Developed Through Improved Character
1. Self-Acceptance – As students are recognized for showing specific character qualities, they will improve in other areas as well, such as achievement, respect, and responsibility.
2. Responses to Authority – As the key people in the school recognize these positive qualities in each student, students will have a more positive response to them. Teachers, administrators, and support staff will then be able to discipline students in a much more positive manner and teach the necessary skills for lifelong success.
3. Relationships – Because there is so much positive reinforcement for students in the praising of character, students will begin to see each other in a more positive light. Students will then encourage positive character in each other.
4. Priorities – Because students will begin to feel better about their own character, they will be able to focus on achievement. This will help to reduce anxiety and eliminate bad habits.
You Will Learn How To:
• Teach character through instruction, example, and activities
• Recognize positive character in students and praise them for their efforts
• Change the way you look at student behavior
• Model positive character for your students
• Give a warning that communicates that you are concerned about the student’s reputation
• Build a student’s self esteem
• Help a student control his/her anger
• Teach relationship skills that work for a lifetime
• Use character to improve student attendance, grades, and test scores
• Use behavioral referrals as an instructional tool to teach character

About Jim Burns

Since 1977 Jim Burns has been working with students who have learning disabilities and behavioral problems. He has almost 40 years of experience working as an administrator, teacher, college instructor, and seminar leaders. He is committed to helping administrators, parents, and teachers establish standards of excellence and help them build successful relationships with their staff, students, and children. He has written and designed The Bully Proof Classroom, a graduate course that is now offered at The College of New Jersey in partnership with The Regional Training Center. This course is endorsed by the NJEA. He has also written “Anti Bullying 101.” A book that provides teachers, administrators, support staff and parent’s 101 tips on how to achieve permanent help in dealing with unruly behavior and can be used as part of any anti-bullying program. He is available for on sight in-services and keynotes and can be reached at 1-732-773-9855 or at jameshburns55@gmail.com

Books Available

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Defusing Power Struggles Cover       Handbook Cover               Everyday Cover Final

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Don’t Be An Easy Target

At times victims of bullying can be like a magnet and attract bullies. They can become easy targets based upon how they walk, what they say, or because they are just awkward in social situations. This is not to say that victims are to blame for their treatment. Rather I am offering an approach to help the victim develop resiliency and confidence. This requires coaching. We can’t just say to a victim to take action on their own. They have to practice, pick and choose their battles, and know when to walk away. This all comes with the help of a teacher, a parent, or a coach who has their best interest at heart. Here are eleven easy strategies that you can teach your students to help them develop confidence and avoid becoming or remaining a target.

  1.  Only you know if you are being bullied. The warning signs are the knot in your stomach and the fear in your heart.
    Bullies don’t have to know about the knot or the fear.
  2. Learn to stay “Stop Knock It Off.” Realize that when you say it that the behavior may not stop. After you say it, walk away.
  3. If what you say doesn’t work it doesn’t mean that you are a failure. You failed that time. You just haven’t gotten there yet.
  4. If a bully confronts you simply state “You have mistaken me for someone who wants to fight.” And Walk Away.
  5. Walk with your head up and your shoulders back. Walk at a moderate pace between classes. Don’t give the impression that you are looking over your shoulder.
  6. Hold your books under your right arm with a firm grip. Don’t clench them like you are thinking that someone is going to knock them out of your hands.
  7. Pay attention to your surroundings. When you are walking almost take a panoramic view of where you are going.
  8. Listen to your classmates and only respond when you believe that it is absolutely necessary.
  9. Don’t disclose any information to anyone that you believe that they will use to bully you.
  10. Know who your friends are. Keep your friends close and your enemies (the bully closer). Don’t try to be friends with the bully or be his sidekick. It won’t stop him from bullying you. By keeping the bully closer you are merely trying to understand his motives and how to manage his words and actions.

Four Educational Models That Have Been Over Used

If you were to pick up a textbook on educational methodology and looked through it you would find models that educators have used for years. And I mean for years. A current textbook will have the same models in it that were considered current forty years ago. In the past these models were proven to help educators deal with student academic and behavioral performance and were part of the intervention process when students struggled with social, emotional, and conduct issues. Educators have used these models with some success but, as we have moved through the generations these models have suffered from what I call over use injury. The models haven’t changed but student behavior has, and the models have been used more now as a crutch than an intervention and do very little to help educators deal with the chronic behavioral issues in their schools. Behaviors such as disrespect, irresponsibility, bullying, violence, power struggles, lack of student motivation, clinical issues such as depression and ADHD and other issues were all problems that educators faced many years ago, but the intensity and frequency of these behaviors has become now the norm and not the exception. Let me make something very clear; an intervention is only an intervention if student behavior changes. Using an intervention that students are now immune to will only ceremoniously allow educators to say that something is being done; whether it works or not. So, what are these models? There are four of them, the biological/organic model, the behavioral model, the environmental model, and the psycho-educational model. All of them had their advantages many years ago, but now they suffer from what I call over use injury and may only work in a very controlled environment such as prison, or an inpatient psychiatric unit. Let me spell out for you how these models were used and are used now and help you understand how intergenerationally students have adapted to these interventions and why they no longer net the same results that they did in the past.

The Organic/Biological Model 

Our bodies can at times suffer from organic imperfections that can cause high blood pressure, cancer, stroke, or other diseases that can be treated with medications or other medical interventions that basically can keep a person alive. The wonders and the evolution of medicine have increased society’s life span by more than 15 years since the 1940’s, and is a necessary commodity if a person wants to maintain quality of life. Usually a blood or other test reveals the cause of certain symptoms that prompts the doctor to place his/her patient on medication to lower blood pressure or aid in the relief of those symptoms. Children who are behavioral problems have too often been treated with Ritalin or other psychotropic drugs as a means of controlling out of control behavior and all too often these drugs are used as the first resort and not the last. As an administrator I have called many parents about their child’s behavior only to be told that the child didn’t take his pill that morning or that the prescription has run out and they have to get to the doctor or the pharmacy for a refill. The debate is not whether or not to medicate a child, rather the debate is what the medication does to a child and is medication the only answer. Those in the mental health industry will tell you that therapy along with medication nets the best result when dealing with a client, it would seem rather apparent that medication along with fair, firm, and consistent discipline that is balanced with rules and compassion would net the best result in education as well. The truth is the so called quick fix may be what we are looking for. A person with high blood pressure has to take responsibility for his own health by walking, eating right, and watching his weight; this along with medication will help to lower his blood pressure. Students need to take responsibility for their behavior through the imposition of consequences, if not the only thing educators can expect is temporary relief, not permanent help.

Parents who discover that their son or daughter may have ADHD are at times relieved to find this out because they then can transfer the burden of responsibility to the school who they will claim doesn’t understand their child’s condition and can very easily convert the reasons for the child’s unruly behavior to an excuse. Once excuses are used behavioral problems escalate and by default we can unwittingly agree with the behavior as it hides behind the condition. In reality it may not be a condition at all rather, a learned behavior.

The organic/biological model can at times cause educators to lower their expectations for student behavior as well. As a teacher I would meet parents at conferences only to discover that the parent in their own way had the same personality characteristics as their child. This discovery would send me to the faculty room crying out “I know now why Joe is the way he is, I just met his father or mother and they’re as weird as he is.” I will admit that once this happened I saw no hope and began to lower my expectation for the student. Genetics only influence student behavior, they don’t determine it. A person can change their response to the influences of poor genetics and begin to unlearn some of the  behaviors that are interfering with his/her learning. Students need to be taught how to rise above any genetic imperfection and this can only happen when we increase our expectations. Lowering expectations will only give the student the idea that they are incapable of not behaving in a manner that is acceptable to a family, a school, or society in general.

The Behavioral Model

When students or even adults contemplate certain actions they do so based upon two very important outcomes. What am I going to gain, and what am I going to lose. If the lose is great enough the risk might be too high. If the risk is at a minimum they may jump in feet first. If the consequence from the loss is too great they may evaluate taking that risk again. Students are in a constant state of evaluation and ask themselves these questions when they are thinking about doing something that could result in some uncomfortable consequences. For students who lack good judgment and are always involved in some type of misconduct educators use a behavioral approach and place the student on a behavior modification program. In other words they receive a reward for acting and behaving in appropriate ways as opposed to exhibiting poor judgment. If I understand this correctly students are rewarded when they change their behavior; which makes sense. But, what about the students who exhibit positive behaviors all the time, where is their reward? To the students who are always on the right track it would be to their advantage to act up and then change their behavior once they receive their reward. Behavior modification does work, but it is so extrinsic that students can’t maintain their positive behavior once the rewards stop coming. Many years ago students were rewarded for going above and beyond the behavioral expectations of the teacher, now students are rewarded for what they should be doing anyway, such as staying in their seat or being on time for school. Because of the over use injury that this model has sustained kids look to be rewarded for anything and everything. The students feel good about themselves for no apparent reason, it is a temporary fix, and once the novelty of the reward wears off the behavior continues. In addition the stakes have been raised with children in homes being given high end items for doing something that in years past would have been viewed as daily household chores. The same is true with the use of praise. A student could exhibit positive behavior for a day or two and the teacher falls all over this child with an avalanche of positive comments that do nothing more than put pressure on the student to continue to live up to expectations that he/she is incapable of. Praise if given too frequently can become like white noise in the mind of the student with him or her almost not believing the comments themselves. Praise needs to be given on a 1-9 ratio, for every one correction there needs to be nine statements of praise doled out. With ten months in the school year that should be one solid comment of praise once a month. In between educators need to strengthen their relationship with their students by practicing the 2X10. Two minutes a day for 10 days straight a conversation needs to take place with a student that is the most unlikeable and unruly. This conversation will strengthen the student/teacher bond and by the eighth day the student will be looking for the conversation. This breeds respect which if not present no amount of praise will change student behavior.

The Environmental Model

As a special educator I used the environmental model much of  the time. My students needed to work at desks that had blinders on them, use head phones, and were given individual instruction. With behavior problems the students were spread out all over the room to avoid verbal confrontations. The environmental model worked. By today’s standard the environmental model has taken on a whole different meaning. Parents request that their child’s schedule be changed because they are not getting along with the teacher or other students in the class. Students are now given individual personal aids to monitor them because their behavior is so out of control. No Child Left Behind standards now have teachers preparing individual lessons for many students in their room with two or three teachers in the room to aid with instruction. The environment has been modified to a point where more emphasis is placed on the 20% of the students with difficulty rather than on the 80% who want and deserve a quality education. The environmental model suffers from severe over use injury and no longer is used in education for what it was intended for. In reality environments are not modified for adults in the work environment. Oh, if an individual has a disability and needs modifications to perform their job duties they are protected under law but no employer will modify an environment due to an individuals poor social skills or lack of motivation. A person with this type of profile will provide all the evidence that will support the employer’s belief and they most times will be terminated. The environmental model needs to be used as an intervention to improve student performance not offer a way out due to poor behavior or social inadequacies.

The Psycho-Educational Model

When a student’s behavior is out of control what factors in the student’s life do we have to consider?  Some educators may consider the following: The parent’s are going through a messy divorce, alcoholism in the family, the student broke up with his/her boyfriend or girlfriend, low IQ, or they didn’t make a spots team. Which of these factors need to be considered? The truth is none of them. That is of course if you are a teacher. A social worker, behaviorist, or school psychologist would consider them all, and there in lies the problem. Teachers and support staff like the ones mentioned never have and never will get along in a school environment: why: because teachers seek consequences for inappropriate behavior and social workers et.al. seek reasons. This model has been over used and has suffered injury due to the fact that accountability for poor behavior has taken a back seat behind the guise of reasons which have become excuses. This model used to work well when teachers balanced their rules and regulations with compassion and understanding. That’s when the teacher did it all and offered an understanding ear after the student was disciplined. The minute that two people enter the discipline process a bad marriage begins to form with two very different philosophies being used. Students know this and just like parenting when mom says no ask dad, when the teacher is viewed as unfair enter the mental health professional to soothe the soul that feels maltreated. Some students need therapy and should receive it but it needs to be balanced with an environment that offers real world consequence.

The psycho-educational model has been misused and widely misunderstood by educators. The core psycho-educational principle is education has a role in emotional and behavioral change. . The rationale behind a psycho-educational approach is that, with a clear understanding of the mental condition, and self-knowledge of own strengths, community resources, and coping skills, the individual is better equipped to deal with the problem and to contribute to his or her own emotional well-being. Consequently, improved awareness of causes and effects leads to improved self-efficacy (the person believing that he is able to manage the situation), and improved self-efficacy leads to better self-control. In other words, the person feels less helpless about the situation and more in control of himself or herself. This model if used correctly can make a difference in the lives of students and parents as long as in the process of disciplining students educators and other mental health professionals work together in understanding a student’s diagnosis and use that diagnosis to educate and improve student accountability and not excuse unruly behavior behind a condition.