August 12, 2012

Make Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Work for You!

Make this Year Your Best Ever!

For the first few weeks of summer, it's hard to forget about your previous class and think ahead to the coming school year. But after a few weeks of vacation, with plenty of time to relax and destress, thoughts began to turn to your next year's class. What will your new students be like? Will you bond and have a great year?

When I was teaching, I remember that this topic was on everyone's minds as the school year approached. Once I heard a teacher joke, "I had a great class last year, so I guess this is my year to have the class from you know where." Everyone in the room laughed, but as I walked away, I wondered if a subconscious belief like that might actually cause a teacher to have a tough year instead of a great year.... not be because the students ARE more difficult but because we EXPECT them to be more difficult?

Think about it. As soon as we receive our new rosters, we quickly scan them to see who's in our class. We see names that we recognize, and we frantically try to remember what we've heard about these students. "Oh no . . . Johnny's the one who was always clowning around in Mr. C's class" or "Tameka is that nice quiet girl who helps Mrs. D after school." We've already begun to make judgments about students we haven't even met!

What if statements like these are no more than self-fulfilling prophecies? If that's true, then perhaps we have far more impact on the type of class we get than we ever imagined!


How to Make this Year Your Best Ever
Every year I said the same thing on the first day, "Class, I have to tell you that I had a really awesome group last year, and I'll miss them. But the amazing thing is that every year, my new class is even better than the one before! I don't know how it's possible, but it's true. I can't even begin to imagine how amazing this class is going to be! I know we are going to have a great year together!" I say this with absolute sincerity because it's true! Maybe I just keep getting more effective as a teacher, or maybe this statement makes them want to be the best class ever, but it works!

What do you think about your new students when you see their names on your roster? What do you tell your class on the first day of school? What subtle messages do you convey about their worth and their future success in your classroom?

When you scan your roster, be encouraged by the thought that another teacher's "problem child" may turn out to be one whom you cherish the most! That quirky sense of humor or that restless, inquisitive spirit is finally appreciated and the student just blossoms under your attention.

If the self-fulfilling prophecy is really at work in the universe, let's make sure it's working in our favor! Tell your students that you know they are going to be the most amazing class ever, and that's exactly what they'll become!

Free Back to School Webinar

If you'd like more strategies and tips for getting your school year off to a great start, sign up for my webinar, How to Launch a Super School Year! I'll be offering it live several times in August, so click over to my Free Webinars page to sign up for the next session. If I'm not offering a live session at the current time, you can sign up to watch the replay of this presentation. I'm excited to have the opportunity to share some of my favorite strategies and activities with you. Watching the webinar will put you just a little closer to making this the best school year ever!



28 comments:

  1. Great lines! I'll add that to my repertoire this year!

    Janet | expateducator.com

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  2. Thanks, Laura, for the reminder! After 26 years in the classroom I couldn't agree with you more. I start my year much the same way you and your colleague do. I do believe it makes a difference in your attitude and the students' attitude. Though I could use a few more days to finalize (couldn't we always say that!)I will be ready next week to meet those 24 smiling faces that will be "my" kiddos for the next 9 months...honestly, they will always be my kiddos.
    Have a great year everyone!
    Nancy

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    1. Thanks, Nancy. Good luck with your kiddos this year. I know you'll have a fantastic crop!

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  3. I loved your article! We can influence our children in so many ways. I am going to use your lines on the first day. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Thanks! You'll be amazed at the way things turn out when you say these things from the beginning of the year.

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  4. I love this post! Thanks for the wonderful inspiration at just the right time!!! I am a firm believer in self fulfilling prophecies and I can't think of a better place to start implementing positive ones than in my classroom!

    Lisa
    Super Pig and Tyrant King

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  5. Thank you for sharing this! I do have to remember to be open minded and I love what you would say to your class, I'm going to be using some of those words on the first day.

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  6. How true it is! Thanks for the nice reminder and have a wonderful year.

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  7. Thank you for that reminder...so important.

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  8. It was great to be reminded. Thank you.

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  9. Thanks Laura. I'm back in the technology lab this year with 4th - 8th graders and at a new school. I am so excited to use this in my introduction of myself to them. Thanks for always sharing your wonderful resources.

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  10. Love this idea! Thanks for sharing!

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  11. So true! A positive outlook sets the atmosphere and it's contagious.

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  12. Great advice Laura! I totally agree with you. This is an awesome approach to every year and every day. Thanks for the reminder.

    Charlene

    Diamond Mom
    www.diamondmomstreasury.com

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  13. This is the best blog entry I have read!!! I am a first year teacher, so I can't say I necessarily have experience this just yet, but I love the comments made to the students at the beginning of the year. I think it definitely sets a nice positive tone for the year ahead.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words! It is so important to set the right tone during that first week of school.

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  14. Every year I have told my class something similar - that they are the best and the smartest. When a co-teacher found out she was insulted because by saying that I was telling my class that the other classes were sub-par. A few other teachers agree with her. I disagree, but was wondering if other have heard of this or had to deal with this problem.

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    1. No one has asked me about this, but thanks for bringing it up. I would say that the teacher is free to use the same strategy in her room and it's fine if every single student in the school thinks they are the best and the brightest! What's the harm in that? My comment to my students was that every year my students just seem to get more wonderful so I know that this is going to be the best year ever. Saying it that way does not imply anything negative about the other teachers but just that you enjoy your class more and more each year.

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  15. I always tell them that I ask for the best students each year. That I am glad to see such a smart group this year.I don't feel that telling them they are the best or the smartest takes away from anyone else.




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  16. Good response to Keri. Semantics can make a difference, even if we have no control over how the students may share it with their peers!

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  17. I am so happy I found your blog and Facebook page this past weekend. I can't believe I hadn't heard of them sooner because you have really great stuff. I love the questions you ask on Facebook! This post is great and so true. I work in a small school with about 110 kids and some classes seem to get a reputation for being bad groups. When the teachers are positive and don't treat them as a bad group, they seem to have a much better year.

    Tara
    The Math Maniac

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    1. Thanks Tara! I've noticed you have been posting supportive comments on my Facebook page lately!

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  18. Thank you for sharing all of your ideas and wisdom. I appreciate all that u do.

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  19. Every year for the last 19 years I have told my class it was the best class in the whole school. Once in awhile another teacher tells me it makes them sound inferior. I tell then they should be telling their classes the same thing. My class is the best class because the students are MY students. They tend to try hard to live up to my statement.

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  20. This works! Whenever you tell your class that they are your best class ever, it boosts everyone. They believe it, and so do you! I find myself more positive each year I do this. I'm excited to get in the classroom each day, and I find myself bragging on my kids outside the classroom more, too. Even years that there have been many issues to overcome, maybe even especially during these years, this helps start the year off right, creating a positive class environment.

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