Responsibility; Turning Have to Into Want to

February 17th, 2009

My research in the schools shows that out of the 40,000-student population I trained, over 99 percent of those students at the elementary level think that responsibility is something that they have to do, rather than something that they choose to do. this is how they are thinking, and in turn CONDITIONING themselves over time how to think  about responsibility.

You see, when we have to do something, we give away our power to choose, and that is just not true because we always have a choice. No matter what it is that we think we have to do, we have a choice to do it or not. This is not semantics. This is our power, or inner strength, as we call it in Stick with Character, (www.stickwithcharacter.com) which is an inner source of power within us that we can tap into as we are going throughout our day. When we give away our power to choose, we then fall victim to whatever it is that we think we have to do. Because of this, what we have to do has a certain level of control over how we feel, think, or behave, whether it is how we feel about what we have to do, such as feeling helpless (because we do not think we have a choice) or we simply feel powerless, or disempowered with the situation or circumstance. WE ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE, ALWAYS!

Now let’s apply this to your students. Here is a student example: Your students have a choice to listen to you or not when you are teaching or parenting. It is their choice. They do not have to listen to you. However, there are consequences to not listening in school—the teacher telling them to be quiet, giving them a warning, sitting out of the activity, getting a lower grade, etc. Teachers may have different consequences for not listening; however, listening is the students’ choice. Think about it, this is how most of us thought and behaved as we were growing up. We didn’t know that listening was a choice for us.

I cannot remember anyone walking me through, or better yet, coaching me on thinking for myself and teaching me the difference between having to do something and choosing to do something.

You see, most of your students think they have to listen to you, and when they think it is something they have to do, the choice is no longer theirs. They cannot take ownership of something that is not theirs to take. They cannot take ownership of the skill of listening. In fact, depending on the age, some of your students think that you are in charge of their listening. Because of this, they are becoming dependent, rather than practicing independence—dependent on you, the teacher, to direct them throughout the class, rather than thinking for themselves and taking ownership of their ability to listen. Once again, they are doing it because they have to, not because they are being responsible for the skill of listening.

So if they are not in charge of their listening skills, whom do they put in charge? That’s right—you, the teacher. This is where a lot of the pressure and stress can come from in your classroom. Not only are you responsible for teaching your curriculum, but also you are responsible for controlling most of your student’s focus, attention, attitudes, and behaviors!

So, the objective here is to put the responsibility back where it belongs—with the student. The critical thinking Dojo questions (www.stickwithcharacter.com) help to coach your students to think for themselves with simple tasks and behaviors that they have not thought about before.

This can be very empowering for students as well as a relief for you, the teacher. When students choose and know that it is their choice to listen, pay attention, and focus, they are empowered, they are in charge, and that feels good. They feel strong inside, which cultivates confidence and plants a seed for independence to grow within the student. They are now on their way up the emotional maturity path of life.

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Is leading by example important for our kids learning?

February 16th, 2009

Some say that leading by example is the best way for parents and teachers to help children with character. Well, maybe its the best way, maybe its not. but what we do know is that its a valuable asset to the growth of our students character. For example, I was sitting at a table in a restaurant and the table next to me was 2 kids, both around 7 or so, and their parents were asking them what they wanted to drink, and one of the kids said, “I’ll have a sprite”. This is when the dad jumps in and says to their child, “may I have a sprite please?” and the child repeats this back to the waiter. Then its the other child’s turn in which they say I’ll have a lemonade, and again the dad jumps in and says, “may I have a lemonade” and again the other child repeats this back to the waiter. This is all right on tract with teaching and training basic manners at a dinner table to our children. Then the waiter looks at the mom and she says, “I’ll have a water” and the dad says, “yeah me to.”  After hearing this I thought, they probably have to say that to their kids all the time because their sending out two messages; two lessons. How frustrating is that for the parents who think that their kids just are not getting it.

Now, are parents and teachers perfect? No, of course not. However, this is not about right or wrong, its simply about setting an example. If fact, I could go a step further and say its living the example. As a teacher of character in schools and parent I see this all the time. On one hand, yes their on track with being aware of their children and what they need to learn but unaware of the example they are showing to their kids. In a most powerful message that Gandhi stated, “Be the change you want to see in the world. ” Simply put, in order to help your children or students  in the most powerful of ways is simply be that change; exemplify the change you want to see in your children or students, in essence, live it.  This , I believe is a “best practice” start to teaching character to our children.  www.stickwithcharacter.com

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My passion is alive!

February 6th, 2009

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to express my excitement about my blog coming alive! My mission is to reach millions with my character programs and this is a first step in the right direction! Thanks to my good friend auggie. Hes one of the best, and yes I’m going to suggest you take a look at his site if you have time! www.auggie4000.com. By the way, my stick with Character header is designed by him.

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