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Classroom management policies: Self-persuasion


Classroom management is one part of teaching that many individuals struggle with. Each group of students has a different dynamic, and it's important to learn how to navigate this right away. One way teachers can manage their class is with self-persuasion. This method can be more impactful and produce longer-lasting results than if you simply punish a child for doing something wrong. 

What is self-persuasion?
Fables like the boy who cried wolf were invented to teach kids a lesson. While the details of the story may stick in listeners' heads, they probably don't internalize the fact that they shouldn't tell lies. Instead of just hearing stories, most people learn better through experience. If you have ever told a fib and then been punished for it, you likely learned your lessen. Edutopia describes self-persuasion as a method of creating cognitive dissonance. This means getting the person who is being persuaded, in this case the student, to have opposing thoughts. 

Encouraging self-persuasion in the classroom 
Setting goals and sharing them with the class or a partner can be a very useful way to help your students self-persuade. Telling someone else that they are going to do their homework that night or work toward an A on the quiz that week will make them feel like they have to do it. People often avoid shame and honor their commitments if they have publicly declared they will do something. 

Even if you teach kindergarten, you can encourage self-persuasion. For younger students, especially those who have trouble in school or tend to want to disobey authority, you can try using questions more often. Instead of reminding the students over and over about something like an upcoming field trip form they need to have their parents sign, ask them what they are supposed to remember. This is a great learning opportunity where having to come up with the answer will make it stick more in their brains than you simply saying what needs to be done.

Older kids can benefit from the use of a commitment calendar. Have each student write their goals for the month - everything from achieving certain grades on Common Core state standards tests to completing longer projects. Then, the kids should share the goals with a partner or the entire class. They'll feel accountable to their peers (and want to avoid embarrassment), as well as feel they owe it to themselves to work toward these objectives. Just be sure the ideas are achievable, or the method will not help since failure may be inevitable.