“We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
– 1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV
Last year one of the operating principles I strove to implement into my daily routine of work was the principle of momentum. What I learned from seeking to operate by the principle of perpetual motion is it challenged me to figure out what I needed to do to keep moving in a forward, progressive state and when I felt like it was lost what I needed to do to get it going again. I experienced a lot of success and it reinforced to me the value of short term-long term goal setting and the simplicity of taking action to experience the quality of life one desires to achieve and encounter. I also saw how God would work things in my favor and how easily others could be influenced in a positive way to embrace what they see modeled in you. Stephen Covey would call that synergy. Synergy is when like minded individuals collaborate and contribute positive ideas and energy in accomplishing a particular task or goal together.
How does synergy look in the classroom? How can it be achieved? Lately I have had days, when at the end of the day, I would call it conducting an orchestra. I think of orchestra because with minimal effort on my part I watched students take initiative and follow through with operating by the expectations shared between myself and them that made that classroom and day feel like a harmonious symphony. In my classroom I use words like focus, patience, respect, effort, diligence and cooperation as a conductor’s wand and with patience and gentle persistence spoken firmly I encourage and instruct. Once I worked through my frustrations at the end of November through today, I have had many good days that leave me feeling confident and comfortable after being out of the classroom for sooo long.
Also, I make use of rewards as a means to reinforce the expectations I have to motivate them too in taking responsibility in how they conduct themselves instead of me having to manage everyone’s behavior in the classroom. Rewards could be as simple as recognition (verbal praise, names on the chalkboard, written notices, positive parent phone calls/notices, etc.) or treats (miniature candies, miniature juice boxes, etc.). After 20 years, I have discovered that the production level of my students increases and lasts longer when I am consistent in using rewards/positive recognition as a means to influence their choices consistently. When students see others around them being recognized and rewarded, positive peer pressure is as formidable as negative nagging, scolding, reminding, rescuing and punishing. The rewards are not always immediate and must be earned, but over time I get more out of them than just relying on traditional means to try to get them to do what I need them to do.
May God help you and bless you to sustain and maintain positive momentum within your classroom that will empower you and your students to teach, influence and inspire learning.