You offer encouragement.
You give reminders. You supply wisdom and inspiration you hope will make an impact.
But your words fall on deaf ears.
Nothing you say to your most challenging students seems to make a difference.
They continue to misbehave, ignore your advice, and disappoint you day after day.
What you need is a way to get through to them, a secret something that resonates and shakes them to the core.
What you need is influence.
Influence is that missing ingredient that will make your words matter and affect lasting change in behavior.
So how do you get it, especially with students who don’t appear to listen to anyone?
You get it by adhering to three guiding principles:
1. Don’t create friction.
Every time you lecture, scold, threaten, argue with, or glare at difficult students you sabotage your influence with them. You create a you-against-them relationship that severs the line of communication.
Nothing you say, then, will have an effect beyond the few seconds they dutifully (or not) nod their head as you’re speaking.
2. Be consistent.
In an effort to build rapport and influence, many (many) teachers will look the other way in the face of misbehavior. They’ll let some things go. They’ll offer a reminder instead of a consequence.
But this communicates loud and clear that you can’t be trusted. It tells them that when you say something, it may or may not be true. To build trust, and ultimately influence, you must be consistent day after day after day.
You must follow your classroom management plan precisely as it’s written.
3. Be kind without strings.
Extending simple kindness to your most difficult students, without manipulation, flattery, or expectation of receiving anything in return, has an almost magical way of unlocking powerful and influential rapport.
Random smiles, hellos, chitchats, and fist bumps out of nowhere cause even the most jaded students to look at you differently than any adult they’ve ever met.
They appreciate this no-strings-attached interaction so much that despite themselves they’ll like and respect you. They’ll want to please you and listen to you.
Your Words Will Matter
The cumulative effect is that those little gems of advice or encouragement you just know they need to hear . . .
Will matter to them.
They’ll have meaning and relevance. They’ll cause them to stop and think and really listen.
They’ll stay with them and echo in their mind.
Often for a lifetime.