Questions About Work Ethic

Here are a few of the most common questions I receive from teachers regarding students’ work ethic. Some of them may resonate with you.

Question 1: Is your system of promoting responsibility connected to work ethic or just behaviors of following the rules?

My reply:
First, I always say, “Rules are meant to control, not inspire.” I became a teacher for the latter, not the former. Second, I refer to character education on seven pages in my book. The foundational principle of any character education or work ethic is responsibility. Without it, nothing else stands.

Question 2: Does your system work well with secondary students?

My reply:
The teaching model works with anyone, of any age, in any learning situation.

Question 3: I have given this much thought and realize that I don’t truly understand what your and my ultimate goal is.

My reply:
My goal is to (1) reduce teacher stress during a misbehavior, (2) view a disruption as a student’s best attempt to solve a frustration or react to an impulse and that the most important of my tasks is to help the student help herself, (3) have students WANT to behave responsibly and WANT to put forth effort to learn, (4) have teachers enjoy teaching, and (5) have students reap the satisfaction of their learning. How I do this is outlined at In-House Staff Development.

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Question 4: This is a big change for me. I need to have an understanding of which area to work on first to bring the other areas along.

My reply:
Work on classroom management first. Assume your students KNOW NOTHING. Teach, practice, and periodically reinforce everything you want them to do AND HOW TO DO IT. After that, keep in mind to individualize as much as you can. Spend a few minutes with each student periodically tutoring at the student’s desk. Emphasize and compliment them whenever possible. BUILD ON THEIR STRENGTHS before correction.

You will truly enjoy teaching if you develop relationships with your students. How they FEEL about you is critical. You are a salesperson. You sell information and skills. If the customer has negative feelings about the salesperson, the “sale” is doomed. Using the three principles (communicating in positive and encouraging terms, offering choices–even of some assignments, and using reflective questions (e.g., If you could not fail, what would you do?) will naturally improve relationships. More is available in the book about how to motivate students .