Step 3: Increase your Influence
One of my favorite leadership gurus is John Maxwell. His definition of leadership is very simple… “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less". If you want your students to do what you ask, you must influence them to do it. This is especially true with students who are considered high risk. Students who have strict parents at home lend you their authority. You say “stop or I’ll call home, write a referral, give a detention, etc." They stop. The reason is, the parents have lent you their authority and the student knows if they get into trouble at school, they will pay for it at home.
Unfortunately, this is not the norm with the students that are causing you problems in class. These problematic students don’t care because nobody at home cares. So you must convince (influence) them to do what you ask them to. It’s impossible in this article to list all the ways this is achieved, but here are a few.
1) Connect with the students. If any student doesn’t feel you care or are fair, that mentality and belief will spread like a virus. Instead of trying to “come down" on the bad student right way, try to connect with him or her.
2) Retain your power; don’t give away your authority. The classroom is domain and as such, the buck should stop with you. If you are writing more than a few referrals a year or having students removed from your classroom on a weekly or daily basis, you are doing yourself a disservice. Basically, you are teaching your students that you are not the one with the power, somebody else is. If they don’t behave you are going to send them to the person with the power. This undermines your authority like the mother who always says “wait until your father gets home". Why not be the final disciplinarian yourself? Like Vegas, most of what happens in your class, should stay in your class.
3) Become an expert salesperson. If you want to be a high performing leader you must be good at sales. You sell students on doing their work, following your instructions, believing you care, viewing you as the leader, and numerous other things. The better you become at sales, the smoother things will run.