Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Power of the Self-fulfilling Prophecy

Teachers sometimes joke, "I had a great class last year, so I guess this is my year to have the class from you know where." Everyone laughs, but how might those subconscious beliefs affect a teacher's actions . . . and maybe their entire school year?

Think about the yearly "roster ritual" - that defining moment when an administrator hands us our new rosters and 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? It that's true, then perhaps we have far more impact on the type of class we get than we ever imagined!

Every year I say 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!

My friend and colleague Pat Calfee used to say something similar to her students every year. Her statement was something to the effect that she's not sure how it happens, but every year the principal seems to put the smartest and best students in her class. Of course they sit a little taller when they hear this . . . and they act like the smartest and best kids in the school!

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!

Monday, August 16, 2010

How to Earn 6,000 Scholastic Bonus Points

What would you do with 6,000 Scholastic Bonus points? Buy a class set of your favorite novel? Order sets of books for Literature Circles? Increase your classroom nonfiction collection? Order needed materials and supplies? Only a teacher would understand how we much we love those points! To us, the idea of earning 6,000 points with a single order sounds like hitting the jackpot in Vegas or winning the lottery! But believe it or not, with a little persistence and a plan, you can earn 6,000 points for your classroom this year!

How can you cash in on this bonanza? Just compile one $200 order from a single September 2010 book club catalog. As impossible as it seems, putting together a large order is really quite easy if you have a plan. Last year I posted a step-by-step method for earning over 4,000 points, but amazingly, this year's deal is even better! A $200 order will now earn you over 6,000 points to spend any way you wish. Whether you teach at a high poverty school or an affluent one, you might be surprised at how easy this is to accomplish. When you let your students and parents know about your goal and why you want their support, you'll be astonished at the results!

To download the step-by-step plan for earning 6,000 Bonus Points, go to my Back to School page on the  Teaching Resources website (www.lauracandler.com). You'll find a set of directions as well as a customizable parent letter and other helpful printables. All of these materials are free and ready to download right away.

Skeptical? During the month of September last year, many teachers emailed me about their amazing success with this plan, and some of those teachers had never even put together a $20 order. Some of them were veteran teachers while others were brand-new to the classroom, but all were excited to start the year with thousands of bonus points to spend!

And no, I'm not affiliated with Scholastic. I just love their books and materials, and I enjoy sharing strategies that help others make the most of Scholastic's back-to-school offer. I invite you to share your own strategies and experiences as well. Just leave a comment below or visit the Teaching Resources page on Facebook. Let me know about your success and all the goodies you buy with your bonus points! :-)