From Teaching to Leading the
by Professor Joe Martin
One of the greatest challenges I’ve faced as a teacher was
getting my students to understand how and why they procrastinate, and ultimately what it
was costing them to do so. Year after year, I never saw any change in student behavior
or attitudes as it related to laziness.
But it was once said that sometimes
the best inspiration is born out of desperation. Through utter desperation, I went
“back to the drawing board” to remind myself of the purpose of teaching,
which is to get students to think for themselves – replacing a closed mind with an
This approach proved effective as I stopped focusing on “giving”
my students the answer and started focusing on leading my students to the answer for
themselves. I started by mentally putting myself in their shoes. As a student, I asked
myself, “What was most important to me as it related to my time?”
This question revealed the following four answers:
* Time with my friends
* Time alone (for hobbies
* Time to have fun
* Fear of not having enough of it (fun that
From that point, I picked the one element that seemingly impacted all the
others – not having enough of it. Therefore, I grabbed the students’
attention by making them an offer:
“How would you like to have more
free time to spend with your friends, have fun, and do the things that you love to do?”
Trust me, this wasn’t a very difficult sell.
Now that I had their
attention, I had to prove to them that they already had enough time to do those things;
they were just abusing it. Of course, no one believed it, but that’s why we’re
teachers…to take a closed mind and replace it with an open one.
my own creative juices, I had the students calculate how they were currently spending
their time, from taking a shower, riding the bus to school, and to actual time in class.
We listed only those items they had to commit themselves to (i.e., no one can really
afford to avoid taking a shower).
We then added up their total time allotted
for necessities and subtracted the total from the total number of hours available in a
week (24 hrs x 7 days). To their amazement, students had a lot more “free hours”
in a day (and a week) than they originally thought.
That look of amazement
was soon replaced with the logical question of, “What happened to all of the
remaining hours?” That was the million dollar question.
I then had them
tell me how students “chose” to spend their time outside of the classroom,
and we wrote each of their responses on the board. You would have been shocked by what
they said. Typically, students will generate between 20 and 30 “time burning”
activities (if not more).
The power of this exercise is revealed when they
realize that the choices they make about their time have a direct influence on the
results they experience in school (and in life). It’s a humbling experience for
most and a shocking experience for some.
The lesson here is that you can lead
students to school, but our job is to make them think…especially when it comes to
Joe Martin is an award-winning national speaker, author,
professor, and educational consultant. His mission is to help students,
teachers, and administrators learn, lead, and live with purpose and passion. To
find out more visit his web site at https://www.NewTeacherUniversity.com.
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