The Most Effective Way To Manage Students With ADHD

The Most Effective Way To Manage Students With ADHD

By Michael Linsin


I might disappoint some people with what I’m about to write.

But 1st let me back up a bit.

For the past several years, managing students with ADHD has been near the top of the list of SCM reader requests.

And it’s something I’ve been looking forward to writing about.

I have what I believe to be a uniquely effective approach to helping students struggling with this issue.

However, it’s a big topic with a lot of moving parts.

And I’ve been concerned that a single article, or even a series of articles, might lead to confusion or prompt dozens of questions.

Rrecently I shifted the topic over to my list of future e-guides, where I can give it the treatment it deserves.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a poll to determine which e-guide on the list I should begin work on this spring.

The results were close, but “Students With ADHD” came in second behind “A Classroom Management Plan for Elementary Teachers.”

I hope to begin writing the former before the end of the year, but I felt like I needed to get something out here on the blog and hence this article.

Please understand, however, that the strategy I’m going to share with you today is only part of the picture. It’s an important part, to be sure, even the most important part, but it doesn’t answer what may be your most pressing questions.

Namely, it doesn’t answer how to hold students with ADHD accountable and whether or not they should be held to the same behavior standards as the rest of the class.

This will have to wait until the e-guide comes out.

In the meantime, there is a strategy you can use right now that is the very best thing you can do for all students struggling with attention or behavioral issues.

It’s so effective and powerful, in fact, that in the vast majority of cases, it’s the only strategy you’ll ever need.

So what is it?

It’s to be great at classroom management. It’s to double-down on the approach we recommend here at SCM. It’s to become an expert at creating a peaceful environment free of interruptions and distractions.

Because this will always have the greatest impact on students with ADHD—their improvement, contentment, and ability to focus and really enjoy school. It’s not even close.

The totality of truly exceptional classroom management is transformational, for all students, but particularly for those struggling with restlessness, impulsivity, and trouble concentrating.

From a student’s perspective, it’s a world that makes sense, a place where they can breathe, let down their guard, and just be a student.

But it isn’t just the most effective strategy, it’s also the first.

You see, no other strategy, including those I’m going to recommend as part of a future e-guide, will have much effect until and unless the first is accomplished.

Only then can you even accurately determine if you really do have students who need extra support or modifications to your rules and consequences.

Year after year, I hear horror stories about certain students and how they can’t stay in their seats, stop talking, or refrain from bothering others or disrupting the class.

But when placed in the right environment, many will quietly assimilate into the calm and well-behaved culture just like everyone else—and without extra attention from the teacher.

There is an epidemic of students who are misunderstood, labeled, pigeonholed, over-managed, and in some cases, even misdiagnosed due to poor classroom management.

The reality is, many are just bored, unchallenged, and highly energetic.

Again, for those who truly and legitimately need an alternative approach, I have what I believe is the most compassionate and least invasive method for guiding them from point A to point B and beyond.

But it isn’t worth much unless you create the conditions through which all students can overcome their behavioral and academic challenges.

And thrive, all on their own.

The Best Of Smart Classroom Management 2017

Here is a note By Michael Linsin

Here at Smart Classroom Management, we’d like to express our deepest appreciation to you, our loyal readers.

Your support means everything to us.

Your willingness to share SCM with friends, colleagues, and followers allow us to continue doing what we love week after week and year after year. For that, we are eternally grateful.

From our heart to yours, Thank You!

We have an exciting line up of articles planned for 2018 as well as a new e-guide coming out in May. We also begin work on our biggest book yet, which is scheduled for release in spring of 2019.

But first, a look back. What follows are the very best classroom management articles of 2017, which are based on the total number of social shares.

Cheers! And enjoy . . .

1. Why Staying Late After School Is A Mistake

2. How To Handle Students Who Give You Attitude

3. Why You Shouldn’t Try To Convince Difficult Students To Behave

4. 5 Simple Ways To Eliminate Stress From Your Teaching Life

5. 9 Ways To Have More Authority Next School Year

6. Why You Should Pretend Your Most Difficult Students Are Perfectly Well Behaved

7. How To Improve Classroom Management Every Day

8. How To Handle A Student Who Questions You With Disrespect

9. A Radical Way To Transform Difficult Students

10. How To Handle Students Who Misbehave Behind Your Back

11. How To Be Both Calm And Enthusiastic Next School Year

12. When And Why It’s Okay For Students To Talk

Have a wonderful and safe holiday and a Happy New Year!


Three Little Words That Show Students You Care

Three Little Words That Show Students You Care

Your smile and your consistency.

Your pleasantness and good humor. Your kindness, honesty, and simplicity of the message.

Day in and day out, they let your students know how much you care.

It’s something they can see and feel as plain as day.

Which in turn builds trust and rapport, drawing them inexorably into your circle of influence.

Despite being indirect, these teacher traits have a powerful affect on students.

In fact, they play an important role in what is the true secret to classroom management success.

But there is something else you can do to show your genuine care and concern for them.

It’s a bit more direct but still nonetheless effective. It’s also simple, as obvious as the nose on your face, and so, so easy to forget.

What is it?

It’s to look individual students in the eye and utter three little words: “How are you?”

Now, it’s important to note that it can’t be an off-handed, throwaway line as you’re walking by. “Hey, howarya?”

It must be earnest.

You have to pause the moment. You have to stop what you’re doing, shove aside whatever else is on your mind, and really look at the student. Be present.

Otherwise, your words will ring hollow. Spoken with sincerity, however, and they can touch their very heart. Because, you see, very few people ever really ask them how they’re doing.

And it means the world to them.

It tells them that you’re interested in them as a person, that they’re not just a test score, a face in the crowd, or another cog in the educational machine.

They matter.

Not because of what they can do, what they wear, or what they look like, but because they’re here, on this earth, trying to figure it out like the rest of us.

Of course, there are variations of “How are you?” that work as well. “How have you been?” “How is everything?” “How are things going with you?”

Just go with your gut. As long as you really do want to know, you can’t mess it up. As for how students respond, it doesn’t really matter.

Just knowing that you care enough to ask is what’s important.

However, most students will tell you they’re doing fine or okay, which gives you the opening to follow up with “Please let me know if you need anything or I can help you in any way.”

Although they’ll almost never take you up on the offer, they’ll nearly always walk away feeling more settled, content, and appreciative being in your classroom.

On the rare occasion they do want to unburden themselves, be sure to schedule a time that you can really talk, whether at recess or lunch or whenever you have some time.

The strategy—if you can call it that—is especially effective with difficult students or those who you’ve had a harder time building a relationship.

Many of their interactions with teachers have been negative or manipulative. So when you approach them with nothing more than their interest at heart, they’re taken aback in a wonderful way.

Sometimes they don’t quite believe you, which is why it’s a good idea to continue to pose the question every couple of weeks or so.

There is no reason to make a checklist to make sure you get to so many students every week or add yet another to-do to your already full plate.

It’s just a reminder to touch base. To connect with your students as people.

To be the teacher, mentor, angel they can count on.


How To Keep Your Students Calm And Focused

How To Keep Your Students Calm And Focused

As the holiday season comes closer, students become antsier.

They can feel the midyear break just around the corner.

And their excitement builds every day.

The weather, the music, the traditions. The decorations, the lights, the commercials.

Despite how much your school may try to avoid the reminders, it all has a way of spilling over into the classroom.

Causing excitability, restlessness, and misbehavior.

If you’re not careful, the two weeks or so before vacation can be a stressful grind to the finish.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, with just a few strategies it can be a time of calm and focus and even accelerating improvement.

Here’s how:

1. Take your time.

Your students are strongly influenced by your temperament. Thus, the more excitable they are due to outside forces, the more important it is for you to stay calm and take your time.

Pause frequently. Speak in a softer voice. Move efficiently and with graceful ease. Breathe fully, in and out, and keep your body loose and relaxed.

Although your students may bring rambunctiousness and commotion with them from home, you control whether they keep it or surrender it out into the ether.

2. Provide more breaks.

Mental and physical breaks become more essential the closer you get to vacation. So get your students up and moving frequently, every thirty minutes or so.

Lead them in a series of stretches, yoga poses, exercises, or slow deep breathing. Let them walk over to say hello to a friend and even chat for a few minutes.

Include more time and opportunities to express their thoughts and ideas though pair-share and group work.

By providing the means through which they can shake out their restlessness, they’ll return to their more focused responsibilities refreshed and prepared to learn.

3. Focus on details.

One of the negative byproducts of over-excited students is that their work becomes sloppy and less precise. Following directions and performing routines also tend to suffer.

The antidote is to be more specific and detailed in your instruction. Add an additional modeling exercise. Ask another checking-for-understanding question.

Double down on the nitty-gritty and the chassis won’t get so loose.

And if anything ever fails to meet your high-bar standards, back up to the previous transition, reestablish your expectations, and start over again.

4. Increase the challenge.

The tendency is for teachers to lighten up as vacation nears. Without even realizing it, they find themselves accepting less and asking less because they happen to be in the midst of a holiday season.

But this sends the message that it’s okay to be less attentive and have shoddy work habits, that a certain amount of misbehavior is expected.

Although you should always push the envelope on what you ask of your students—every day of the year—the closer you get to an extended break the more critical this becomes.

Because it keeps your students on task, focus-driven, and striving to the end.

Subtle But Powerful

Effective classroom management requires you to be mindful of the moment, the time of day, and the season of the year. It takes a proactive view and a shrewd approach to potential landmines that lie ahead.

If you simply go about your business, the two weeks before holiday break can be filled with headaches, apprehension, and added stress.

But with just a few adjustments, a few tweaks to your pace, timing, instruction, and disposition, you can maintain your own sense of peace and enjoyment this holiday season.

You can subtly but powerfully alleviate the negative excitement and energy, the silliness and distraction, the impatience and impulsiveness.

And keep your class calm and focused all the way to the final bell.

When You Shouldn’t Enforce A Consequence

One of the core tenets of SCM is to hold your students accountable for every rule violation.

You do what you say you’re going to do. You follow through on your promises.

Student breaks a rule and you enforce a consequence.

It’s as simple as that.

Done in a certain way—as we recommend here on this website and in our books—the benefits can be staggering.

Not only will you eliminate misbehavior, but . . .

  • You’ll create an atmosphere of respect.
  • You’ll build strong influence, trust, and rapport.
  • You’ll become a leader worth following.

However, there is a circumstance whereby a student breaks a rule and you shouldn’thold them accountable.

Can you guess what it is?

It’s when a student calls out without permission in order to stop a classmate from interfering with their right to learn.

“Can you be quiet please?”

“I’m sorry, I can’t talk to you right now.”

“Do you guys mind? I’m trying to read.”

“Please leave me alone, I have to get this done.”

Now, if you were to follow your classroom management plan as written and hold this student accountable for calling out, you would very likely alienate them.

You would leave them disillusioned, confused, and resentful.

Bear in mind that this is a student who has fully bought into the culture of your classroom. They care about learning and represent what you’re trying to inspire in others.

They’re a role model whose support and example makes your classroom better and your job easier.

So what should you do? How do you handle the situation without sending the message to the rest of the class that you’re playing favorites or breaking your promises?

Well, first off, the circumstance underscores the importance of vigilant observation, supervision, and awareness. In previous articles, we’ve discussed how critical it is to be in position to catch misbehavior.

Thus, the best solution is preemptive.

You witness the initial misbehavior and follow through before anyone feels the need to speak up.

Once you get the reputation for having eyes in back of your head—and you will as you become more consistent—then the chances of missing even one act of misbehavior becomes very small.

In the rare case that the original misbehavior does get by you, however, and you see only the second student’s response, you would immediately enforce a consequence with only the originator of the interruption.

However, it’s important that you don’t just leave it at that. When you get a chance, later in the day, briefly apologize to the student who felt they had to stand up for themselves.

Let them know that it’s your job to take care of misbehavior and that you don’t want them to worry about having to take matters into their own hands.

You’ll do better. It’s a big part of your promise to protect their right to learn and enjoy school.

As for the rest of the class who may have witnessed the incident, you don’t need to address them as a group in order to explain why you didn’t enforce a consequence with both parties.

They get it.

You’re showing understanding and compassion, and at the same time, making a statement through your actions that you respect the difference between the literal rule and the true spirit of the rule.

It makes natural sense and will not in anyway result in your class thinking that you’re being unfair or inconsistent.

To the contrary. It makes you more human, more like them. It proves that you’re not a dictator, a robot, or a narrow-minded stickler without common sense.

Rather, you’re someone they can trust, relate to, and believe in.

Why Avoidance Is A Terrible Classroom Management Strategy

Smart Classroom Management: Why Avoidance Is A Terrible Classroom Management Strategy

This article involves a strategy many teachers and administrators use in response to misbehavior.

And although I believe their heart is in the right place, the strategy is terribly misguided.

It’s also knee-jerk, shortsighted, and harmful to students.

So what is it?

It’s avoidance. It’s limiting the healthy freedoms of students in order to avoid the possibility that misbehavior could occur.

Some examples:

“Let’s keep Josh, Raymond, and Jocelyn separated because they don’t get along (or they goof around together).”

“Let’s no longer allow students to use clay (or paint or glue) because they throw it at each other and get it all over the carpet.”

“Let’s close the playground equipment because students are running, playing tag, and standing atop the bars.”

“Let’s not allow certain learning games or activities anymore because the students get excited and start misbehaving.”

Not to be confused with the effective use of consequences, these broad reactions punish students unnecessarily and send the message that they don’t have the capacity to improve or do things the right way.

They also limit their social and academic development, rob them of creativity and joy, and cause more problems than they avoid.

So what’s the other option?

The alternative is to teach students in detail what your expectations are. Model for them, show them, how to behave during every activity, transition, task, and routine throughout the school day.

Establish clear rules and consequences to support and enforce those expectations. Lay everything out ahead of time, supervise closely, and then faithfully hold them accountable for the high standards you set.

No more, no less, and do not make exceptions.

In this way, students learn self-control, patience, and poise. They learn how to get along with others and work together for the common good.

They learn responsibility, accountability, and the skills they need to succeed and be valued members of a community.

This is why they’re in school.

We want to put them in situations that challenge them to make good decisions and to work with those who are different than themselves.

When we systematically and arbitrarily remove people, things, situations, and ideas they don’t naturally handle well, or may not like or agree with, we do them a disservice.

We cause them to become less mature, less tolerant, less empathetic, and less self-controlled.

So instead of trying to avoid misbehavior by limiting the very things that help your students grow into responsible adults, outlaw the actual misbehavior itself.

Continually challenge them to improve by showing them the way and then holding them to it. This is how we create great schools and classrooms.

We teach our students how to deal with it.

We teach them patience, kindness, understanding, appreciation, self-restraint, discipline, discernment, and the tools to handle themselves with grace and aplomb.

We teach them to see the world from many perspectives.

To communicate.

To live and love others and contribute to the greater good.

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How To Create An Independent, Motivated, And Mature Class

How To Create An Independent, Motivated, And Mature Class

Smart Classroom Management: How To Create An Independent, Motivated, And Mature ClassWhen teachers first implement an effective classroom management plan . . .

  • By teaching and modeling it in detail.
  • By following it exactly as it’s written.
  • By being consistent day after day.

. . . they’re often shocked by how peaceful their classroom becomes.

The respect, the contentment, the quietude. The smiles, the thank yous, the calm energy.

It’s like having a whole new class.

But there is danger lurking.

You see, at the first sign of peace, it’s all too common to start believing the lie that you’re not doing enough.

The silence of independent work, in particular, has a way of making teachers uncomfortable and raring to help out.

So, without considering the impact, they burst through the sacred cocoon of concentrated work and begin micromanaging students.

They interrupt to offer hints, suggestions, and advice. They rush over and kneel down in response to every look mild frustration and every hand raised.

They assist and handhold and coddle, all the while undermining a critical part of the learning process and removing what students crave—and need—most:

Freedom and responsibility.

The students, in turn, begin believing that they really do need your help for every little this and that. Hands go up all over the room and they quickly lose confidence in their ability to listen, learn, and do for themselves (learned helplessness).

This causes boredom, irritability, low motivation, and the desire for you to personally reteach individually what you taught the entire class just minutes before.

And although a faithfully followed classroom management plan will still keep a lid on things, their dissatisfaction will manifest itself in sneaky, off-task, and behind-the-back misbehavior.

Work-habit expectations should be spelled out for your students, without a doubt, as well as the tools they need to do the work successfully.

But once these are established, you must cut your students loose. Really cut them loose. Send the message that independent work, whether individual or in groups, is truly independent.

Be reluctant to rush over to provide what they can work through all on their own. Allow them to make many of their own choices and decisions and wrestle with whatever you place before them.

Give them the space they need to take ownership of their work, and their imagination, their energy and passion, and their intrinsic motivation will kick into high gear.

Teach interesting and inspiring lessons. Provide everything they need to succeed. Check thoroughly for understanding and allow for every question. Teach them well.

But then get out of their way.

Shift 100% of the responsibility for doing the work over to your class while you fade into a corner to observe and take in the big picture.

Work on devoting more and more of the school day to independent work, projects, creative endeavors, etc. and less of the day to directed teaching.

Directed teaching is still important, mind you. In fact, it’s critical that you become an expert in delivering lessons. But you must continually push the envelope on what your students can do for themselves.

This is learning. This is how they develop and thrive and become empowered to chart their own course. This is what prepares them for success in a rapidly changing world.

Take more of you out of the picture, and you’ll discover your students becoming staggeringly more mature, independent, and responsible.

Their motivation, focus, and on-task behavior will increase tenfold, and they’ll become persistent, self-directed problem solvers—even, and especially, the most challenging among them.

Your classroom management plan will still be there, obscured in the mist and watching over your students, but they’ll hardly notice it anymore.

Because the joy of learning will take center stage.

PS – There is a lot to this topic, which we’ll continue to unpack in the coming months.

In the meantime, for more on this game-changing approach to teaching and learning, including how to teach lessons your students will love, please check out The Happy Teacher Habits.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, please join us. It’s free! Click here and begin receiving new-article updates in your email box every week.

How To Stay The Course With A Tough Class

How To Stay The Course With A Tough Class

Smart Classroom Management: How To Stay The Course With A Tough ClassThe tougher the class, the easier it is to be inconsistent.The easier it is to give in and lose control.

Which is why when you have a challenging group of students you must be mentally tough.

You must be, as Winston Churchill once said, “a peg, hammered into the frozen ground, immovable.”

But how?

How do you stay the course day after day?

How do you stay strong when your students are trying to get under your skin?

How do you enforce a consequence when it’s the last thing in the world you feel like doing?

Well, nobody does it naturally.

Everyone feels resistance. Everyone at times feels a seemingly irresistible pull to cave in, back down, and look the other way.

It can also be difficult to be “on” in every moment. Maybe you’re not feeling well. Maybe it’s Friday afternoon and you’re just so ready to call it a day.

Maybe things are finally going well and you think, “Why not just let it go this one time? What’s the harm?” 

Whatever the reason, failing to follow through on your promises is always a mistake.

Which is why you need something you can lean on, an attitude or frame of mind that stays with you and sustains you through your weakest moments.

What follows are three key thoughts that will give you the mental toughness you need to stay the course, no matter how challenging your class.

1. Do it for them.

The most effective teachers have an overabundance of mama/papa bear in them that says, “It’s my job to protect my students’ right to learn and enjoy school, and come what may, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

There is no one else to safeguard your students from disruption, bullying, being made fun of, and the like but you.

Their school year, their future, and their parent’s hopes and dreams for them are at stake. For one year, anyway, they’re entirely in your hands.

When you embrace this responsibility (and reality), it makes following through and doing right by your students so much easier. In fact, it makes it the most natural thing in the world.

2. Be willing to lose your job.

There is great strength in committing to a task, not merely in a sense that it’s something you’re determined to do, but rather something you invest in so completely that you allow yourself no other choice.

You will do it.

A powerful way to embody this feeling is to adopt the attitude that they—administration, powers that be, educational establishment, etc.—will have to fire you and drag you from the classroom to stop you from fulfilling your promises to your students.

It represents a level of commitment that will effectively repel all forms of resistance, no matter how strong.

Ironically, with this mindset, not only will you never lose your job, but you’ll be admired by your colleagues, beloved by your students, and left alone by your principal.

3. Accept that it’s the only way.

When your class is out of control and the students seem so disrespectful, callous, and unmotivated, what you’re seeing isn’t who they really are.

Poor leadership, ineffective strategies, and inconsistency in the past have created what you’re seeing.

The only way to fix it, the only way to sweep away the negativity and reveal the very best in your students—as well as in yourself—is to bring fair, honest, and consistent accountability into the picture.

Accepting that it’s the only way to peace, the only way to inspired teaching and learning, and the only way to the stress-free career you really want is all the motivation you need to stay the course.

The Way It’s Going To Be

Several years ago, there was a rumor that the President was coming by the school I was working at for a visit. (He never did.)

Honestly, the first thing that came to my mind was, ‘Well, if he comes into my room, he’ll have to follow the rules just like everyone else.”

I laugh at the thought, but it underscores the level of commitment needed to follow through on your promise to create a safe and enjoyable learning experience for your students.

Even if you don’t teach in an especially difficult school, or you’re not in the midst of trying to turn around an out-of-control class, cultivating a tough mindset is still incredibly valuable.

In fact, in time it will become not just an attitude or mentality you carry with you to school every day.

But who you are.

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Just For Us

Just For Us
There is never a time that we can say that we don’t need Hashem. Besides for the life that He is constantly pumping into us, He is providing for our every need, every second of the day. We have so many needs. Just when one gets taken care of, we’re already on to thinking about the next one.
A woman told me she was going through a very difficult time and took upon herself to learn more Emunah. Baruch Hashem, shortly afterwards, she was introduced to the boy that she recently became engaged to. She was so grateful to Hashem for this Yeshua. Finally, after seeing the answer to her prayers,however, she was right back to praying heartfelt Tefilot for her next need, financial assistance. But this time, after she had already strengthened her Emunah, she had a calm feeling, recognizing that the finances are out of her control and totally in the hands of Hashem.
One of her major expenses was purchasing a wig. She, like other brides, really wanted two of them, one for every day and one for Shabbat and special occasions. But she had just enough money to buy one. That didn’t stop her from asking her Father in Heaven to provide two for her. She prayed for what she wanted and two weeks ago, she got a phone call from the lady she is buying the wig from who told her that someone just anonymously gave money to buy a wig for a new bride and she’s offering it to her. She said she was taken aback. This was a clear manifestation of Hashem answering her prayers and giving her exactly what she wanted. “Why did she offer it to me?” she thought, “I know there are other brides that she is servicing now as well. How did it come exactly with enough time to be ready for my wedding?” It’s מאת ה-From Hashem-just for me. Hashem helped her, and Hashem can help everyone. The more we realize it, the quicker we’ll ask for His help.
 I read a story about a man from Ela’ad in Israel who’s a Ba’al Teshuva and now a big Talmid Chacham. He said that in 2001 when he started becoming observant, he was doing a lot of business in China. Most of his business dealings with the people there were done over meals. He used to eat non-kosher meat in their restaurants, רחמנא ליצלן, until he slowly began improving. First he stopped eating the meat and told his clients that he became a vegetarian. This went on for a while until he decided to become completely kosher. He knew it would be very insulting to them if he didn’t eat with them, and he didn’t know what to do.
He had the biggest meeting of his life coming up, and it was going to be in one of their restaurants. He wasn’t courageous enough yet to tell them that he couldn’t come. But he was courageous enough not to eat. And he prayed and asked Hashem for help in that situation. The day came, and he was at the restaurant with twenty-five other executives, and they were ordering various dishes for the table. In the middle of the meal someone noticed that he wasn’t eating, and they said in a loud voice, “What’s wrong? Our food is not good enough for you?” He whispered a prayer to Hashem, asking him to put the right words in his mouth, when all of a sudden the wealthiest, most influential executive there got up and said, “Don’t you know he’s a religious Jew? He doesn’t eat this food! We should be thanking him that he even agreed to sit here with us.” With that, everyone was silenced and the meeting progressed and was a success. The man said afterwards, “I have no idea how he knew I was religious. I never showed it, I didn’t look it. It was like Hashem put the words in his mouth to save me.”
Hashem could always help us in any situation. When we recognize how much we need Him, we’ll constantly have words of prayer on our lips, and B’ezrat Hashem, we’ll see with our own eyes His loving hand in our lives.

A Mysterious But Powerful Way To Improve Listening

by  on October 21, 2017 1

Smart Classroom Management: A Mysterious But Powerful Way To Improve ListeningWe’ve covered the topic of speaking so students will listen extensively here at SCM.We’ve talked about the importance of not repeating yourself.

We’ve talked about volume and pacing.

We’ve talked about timing, pausing, brevity, clarity, and eye contact.

But what we have yet to cover is perhaps the single most important key to improving listening.

It’s a strategy that isn’t as straightforward as those mentioned above.

In fact, why it works so well is a bit of a mystery. Because, you see, it’s not about what you do. It’s about what you believe.

So what is it?

It’s conviction.

It’s the feeling or belief behind your words. When you speak with conviction, it sends a signal along an alternative wavelength, reaching students just as strong as when it left your mouth.

It lets them know that what you say matters, that it’s important and worth listening to. It’s something they can feel and sense in their bones.

So where does this level of conviction come from?

Well, it doesn’t come from trying to convince yourself you really mean it. It doesn’t come from false confidence, deepening your voice, or pretending you’re serious this time.

It comes from doing what you say you’re going to do. It comes from your consistencyand follow through.

It comes from an almost obsessive desire to show your students, prove to them, that you can be counted on every hour of every day.

When you say something, your students have to know they can take it to the bank.

For every time you go back on your word or let misbehavior go without the consequence you promised, you weaken your influence and lose trust in the eyes of your students.

You also lose it in your own eyes.

To speak with the weightiness needed to get even students you’ve just met to listen to you, you must have a near fanatical commitment to following through.

There is an unmistakable aura that accompanies teachers with authentic conviction, a distinct vibration of speech that is borne of the perfect symmetry between words and actions.

Do what you say and when you say you’re going to do it, and you’ll speak with a mysterious power that can move mountains.

That causes students to lean in, lock their eyes on you . . .

And listen.

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