Helping teachers have a greater impact on the lives of their students every day

How to Have Amazing Success with THAT Student

Every teacher has THAT student. You know who I’m talking about. It’s the one student who knows how to push your buttons. He has a way of taking you off your game, and when he’s absent, life is good. The only thing is that he’s never absent.

You feel frustrated, because no matter what you do, you’re just not having success with that student. That one student is keeping you from really seeing yourself as a successful teacher.

That’s when we start blaming. We blame their parents first, of course. They failed to provide the support at home or they never instilled in the student the importance of getting an education. Next, we blame the home situation. Perhaps Dad is no longer around, and Mom is trying to work two jobs in order to keep the lights on, and because of this, she’s not home enough to help the student with homework or to even check to see what’s going on at school. Perhaps we blame the student’s learning disability. He doesn’t have the necessary skills to learn the concepts that you are teaching, and in order to hide his deficiencies, he acts out in class. We can blame the neighborhood, society in general, the economy, and the list goes on.

We begin to create what I call a Blame Page.

A Blame Page is where we list all the people, events and other entities that we feel contribute to our lack of success with that student.

Other items on the list could be the lack of adequate technology in the classroom or the outdated textbooks, poor support we receive from administration or parents. We can add class size, student hormones, ADHD, Social Media, etc.

We all have a Blame Page for THAT student.

Here’s the lesson I’ve learned: Successful teachers only have one name on their Blame Page –their own.

Successful teachers cross of every other item on their Blame Page, except their own name.

Successful teachers accept ALL responsibility for the lack of success with THAT student.

This is a liberating concept: the moment we stop blaming the student’s parents or the learning disability, or anything else on our Blame Page, everything changes.

You might be shaking your head right now.

“But Sam, you don’t know my student. You don’t know what he does. You don’t know what I have to put up with every day.”

You’re right. I don’t know your student, and there are always exceptions, but once you stop blaming outside influences of which you have no control, you will be surprised by how your actions will have an effect on not only your own emotions, but on the success of that student.amazing-success-that-studen

Once we take responsibility for that student’s success, we begin to act and think differently. We don’t give up so easily. Our brains start coming up with these incredibility creative ideas to help that student get more connected with our class. It’s amazing.

We begin asking ourselves the question, “What can I do to help this student be successful?”

You say, “I already ask that question of myself, Sam.”

Yes, but now, since you have accepted ALL the responsibility for that student’s success, you realize that your efforts, and your efforts alone, are going to decide whether this student succeeds. You no longer have the attitude of, “Well, I tried. He just came to my class with too much baggage. I did all I could do. I hope he makes it.”

This is not an easy concept to grasp. I know.

It’s easy to point fingers. We feel better when we point fingers at other people or circumstances when we think about our lack of success.

Everything changes, however, when we choose to accept ALL responsibility for our lack of success, because when we do, it puts us in a new position of power. Since we now accept the role of the sole person responsible for success with THAT student, our whole focus as a teacher changes. We begin visualizing what success with that student looks like. We make that image our goal, and almost subconsciously, our actions begin moving toward that goal

It also changes how we react when dealing with that student. We don’t get frustrated at him anymore like we used to. Now, we begin to see his negative behavior as evidence of our need to be modify our actions, not his.

It is really amazing how this works.

I know you’re still not convinced, but I would encourage you to give it a try.

Try erasing all the other items on your mental Blame Page that you’ve created for THAT student. Just leave your name.

Accept ALL responsibility for that student’s success.

Make this statement to yourself:

I accept full responsibility for the success of _____________________this year in my class.

This kind of mind shift is life changing, not only for you, but for that student. You will see, that once you stop blaming others for that student’s lack of success, you will have an amazing impact on that student’s future.

Yes, you’ll be working harder. It will cause you to throw all of your lesson plans out the window, but it will be worth it, because that student will never be the same. Neither will you.

I would love to hear what you think about this. Please comment below.

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Thank you for all you do for our kids.

Until next time, here’s to your Success in the Classroom!



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