Follow these six steps to increase your influence with your students and become an effective leader of your classroom. This is a continuation from part one, where you will find steps one and two.
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.
Step 4: Build your Brand
Great companies build brands that are memorable. You are your brand. Ask any student what they think of a particular teacher or their classroom and they will quickly explain the brand. They will tell you what they can get away with and what they can’t. For a brand to work, customers must buy into it.
The same is true of your students. They must want to come to your class. If they perceive that in your class things run smoothly, they won’t do much to rock the boat because the brand has been established. That’s just the way it is in that class. If they believe the class is wild, they will act according to that as well and the class will be wild. Build your brand so that the perception of you and your class works in your favor and not against you.
Step 5: Learn Enough to be Dangerous
You should never stop learning. Begin a quest to be the best classroom leader in your school. Learn everything you can about strategies, best practices, etc. If you read up on these things and devote yourself to learning, you will quickly become better than many of the teachers around you. As the learning continues, you will at some point become the go-to person when it comes to classroom management.
The best part about it though, is that you will be dangerous. You will know how to dramatically reduce or eliminate most of the unacceptable behaviors in your classroom. Students will view you as the teacher who you don’t mess with. Not because you are mean, but because they respect you and nobody messes with you (your brand has been imprinted on their mind).
Step 6: Practice your Delivery
The last thing to remember is that it takes time and experience to implement something properly. Sometimes the method works, but our delivery or implementation of it is done incorrectly and it muddies the water of how well it works. It takes time and practice to get good at things. The more you do them, the better you will get, so make sure you are giving yourself enough time and practice for something to work before you nonchalantly decide that it doesn’t work. This goes back to being a great salesperson. Don’t just tell students they need to stop talking, sell them on the idea and your chitter-chatter will go down dramatically.
If you follow these six steps and get good at all of them, you will soon have a classroom that you are in control of and students who respect your decisions and word as the final authority. As the new classroom leader, students will follow you wherever you want to take them. You will soon be focused on academics again and will be able to push students to where they need to be.
This post is part of the series: Leading Your Classroom
- Increase your Influence with your Students: Part 1
- Increase your Influence with your Students: Part 2