The Hope Strategy

We are now near the end of the first quarter and the honeymoon is over for most of us (two years ago the honeymoon was over for me 3 hours into the first day of school, but that’s a story for another day).  Students are settling in and teachers are feeling overwhelmed and stressed (a little like I feel every time I see or hear another negative campaign ad for this year’s elections) with lesson plans, paperwork, meetings, and managing student’s behaviors.  To help focus on student management here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you hope to teach great lesson plans while your students are in your class, but find there are so many behavioral and emotional issues (I’m talking students, not teachers) that many days few academics are able to be taught?
  •  Do you hope your students will be smarter when they leave your classroom than when they walked in, but find there are so many behavioral and emotional issues that many days few academics are able to be taught?
  • Do you hope when your students leave your classroom they will be able to get along in the world socially, but find there are so many behavioral and emotional issues that many days it feels like all you do is hand out discipline, rarely getting to teach the social skills necessary to be successful?
  • Do you absolutely have a behavior management system in place that starts on the first day of school and continues to last day of school;  a system that every student knows exactly what the expectations are and how the system works?

If you answered YES to any of the first three questions and NO to the last question you may be working with the “Hope Strategy”.  Don’t get me wrong; hope is huge!  We need hope!  Hope is how many people get up every morning to do what needs to be done.

But, “Hope is not a strategy”.  Hope is not a system.  However, with the implementation of an effective system that includes specific strategies for the management of behavior, there is hope!  You can teach those lesson plans.  Your students will be smarter at the end of the year.  They will be able to better manage their behavior.

The system I use teaches students to make better choices regarding their behavior.  It teaches and promotes empowerment.  It is a highly structured system driven by consistent implementation.  It is a 5-tiered level system and is the system I have been using for years.  Students earn and lose privileges that relate directly to the choices they make.  Everything in my classroom relates back to this level system: positive and negative consequences, privileges earned and lost, even the IEP’s and behavior plans.  Everything.

Ask yourself (parents, you can ask this, too), “Do I have a highly structured system that teaches empowerment, or do I rely on the Hope Strategy more often than not?”  If you rely on the Hope Strategy, how is that working out for everyone involved?  What can you do differently to teach and promote empowerment?

Remember to be kinder than necessary and make it a grateful and peace-filled week,

Ms. Brown

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