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Start the Year by Looking at the End

This is the perfect time to set your children up for a successful school year. I’ve often been asked by colleagues about the engagement they see in my classroom. It’s really no secret. I learned a long time ago that you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. You can’t make students want to learn. We can offer incentives that make them want to stay engaged. The problem with incentives is that they are extrinsic rewards. I have found that these types of rewards often lead to rewards of higher stakes when the going gets tough. It is intrinsic reward that keeps people working through really tough times. Getting students to determine intrinsic reasons for staying on top of work and establishing good work and time management habits will have far greater impact on engagement.

How do we get them to build the intrinsic value? It’s different for each child. The first place to start is to help them establish why they would want to do well in school. Many times they have visions of what they want to do when they grow up. Finding out what they desire is the key. Then we connect different aspects of school work to whatever their goals happen to be. Some eight year old boys aspire to be NBA or NFL players. Girls often see themselves as world class dancers, gymnasts, and most recently national league players in women’s leagues. Establishing effective time management and organizational skills will improve their chances of achieving lofty goals. The “Why” of doing mundane tasks has to be strong enough to guarantee they will stick with it.

I have addressed the visualization process in past blogs. Visualizing as if it already exists is very powerful to the subconscious mind. When children see the report card at the end of the year and feel the pride in the great grades and comments, their brains will guide them in the right direction. It’s amazing how much the subconscious mind can help students overcome blocks.

Henry Ford said, “It you think you can or can’t, you are right.” Seeing the success months before it happens will make it a reality.

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