The 7 Best New School Success Strategies for 2007:
Creative Methods to Jump-Start Your Students' New Year
Here are some brand new interventions for the brand new year. All these devices offer you exciting new methods to build school success this year.
School Success Strategies That Work Best
Do You Know Where You're Going?
Give students pictures of a luggage tag. (You can use the one shown if wish. Just click "Save as" then save it. Next, print it from nearly any word processing or graphics program. You can also alter it using those programs if you wish.)
You can cut out the tag to look like an actual luggage tag if you want. Tell students that they are beginning a trip. Tell them that it is a trip through life. Ask students to write down on the luggage tag exactly where they will end up.
Many students will insist that they don't know for sure. You can reply "If you don't know where you're going, then you should be sure to take with you everything you could possibly need. Do you agree?"
Most students will agree that they should take everything from a bikini to a winter coat so they will be ready to function wherever they arrive. Once students acknowledge the need to take everything they might need, let them expand on their assertions, emphatically noting how vulnerable a person might be without that winter coat or without that passport.
Next, write on the board: "Don't Know Where You're Going? Education Will Take You There." (Other options: "Education: Don't Leave Home Without It" and "Education: Will You Have It When You Need It?") Discuss with students if they don't know exactly where they are going, might education be needed when they arrive?
Can You Pay the Cost of Living?
It's expensive just to live. Dropouts and people with less education and skills often earn minimum wage, currently $5.15 per hour in many states.
Help your students to do a little math. Based on the current estimated cost of living of $40,000 for an urban family of four, a minimum wage worker must work 150 hours per week– but there are only 168 hours in a week. That means working all but 2-1/2 hours of every day!
To potently convey the concept to students who think a school day is long, have them imagine going to school from 8 AM to 7 PM seven days a week.
This intervention works best if you help your students discover these facts by doing the math with them. Consider adding in this last fact once you have thoroughly discussed this data.
Note that the numbers are actually worse than indicated because they do not include the tax burden that shaves about one-third off of take-home pay. That fact, offered late in the game, can really get students' attention. Learn more about the book shown above, Maximum-Strength Motivation-Makers. It's available as a book or instant ebook, and has dozens more innovative, motivational strategies like the ones listed here.
The Cost of Staying Alive
This intervention is the perfect follow-up to the preceding strategy. Put this statement on the board, then discuss: The average cost of health care is $300 per month, then it gets expensive.
This data is based on a family of four. To adjust this data for smaller families, you can deduct only a small amount– just 10% per person. Ouch. It can be expensive to just stay alive. Be sure your students discover this.
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Like Trying to Tame the Ocean
This intervention is for students who attempt the impossible. For example, a youngster can strive to fix their deeply troubled family, or a student may want to undo his family's recent move to a new state.
This school success intervention is to help students to consider letting go of things that they can not change or improve anyway. To use this device, ask the student if they would ever try to control the ocean. The student will say that no one can control the ocean.
After you receive that response, you can let the student know that their efforts are the equivalent of trying to tame the ocean of its waves. Instead battling the ocean, encourage young people to ride the waves so they end up in a new and better place.
Where to Keep Your Diploma
This school success intervention can be used in an off-the-cuff manner, or you can have students make posters to illustrate it. Be sure to put the completed posters on the wall as on-going motivators.
The idea is based on the fact that grads earn $329,000 more than dropouts per lifetime. Teach your students– "Your diploma: So valuable, it belongs in your wallet."
No Such Thing Called Regret
There are so many times that youngsters decide to engage in problematic behavior only to then later express regret about their decision. Certainly expressions of regret are important, but you may be troubled when the regret appears to be offered as a way to moderate or avoid the normal consequences.
Here is a wonderful conversation starter from a practicum student at a girls' residential treatment center. I'll let her explain: "I don't believe in the word regret. It allows you to cover up your choices with that one word. I feel like it allows you to not own up to what you did. If I punch someone in the face, they may hit me back, I regret that I got hit back…You can't have your cake and eat it too."
While this school success intervention will only work with students who can process abstract information, it can be the start of an intriguing discussion. You may want to have your group advise you on how regret should be considered in decisions to moderate– or not moderate– consequences. You can relate this discussion to how the "real world" reacts to expressions of regret.
If you decide to incorporate references to some of the recent incidents involving well-publicized celebrity misbehavior, that could draw a broader range of students into the discussion.
Have Happy New School Year
This intervention isn't new but it is such a good intervention that we do like to give it out annually. This device is designed for youth who are negative or discouraged about school. (This device can be altered to work in treatment centers and other settings by simply changing the focus from school to your setting.)
Because it is the start of a new year, hold a Happy New School Year party. Don't just have a party; be sure to make new school year resolutions. Have paper ready so the students can write down specific commitments for the new year that they are ready to make.
It is very hard to be negative and sour when you are "toasting" your school success resolutions. To be creative, you can have the students insert the resolutions into balloons, then blow the balloons up and release. (Be sure to be release the balloons indoors or in a way that won't damage the environment.)
You can also have students make small wooden boats out of popsicle sticks or wood scraps, then put the resolutions on the boats. Next, release the boats on a lake or other body of water.
What a lovely way to help students care about success in school.