A student hasn’t been applying themselves in class. They and their parents come to the parent teacher interview. The student, in that moment makes a choice:
“I’m going to work really hard in class, do all my homework and start studying early for my exam. I’m going to be a model student”.
The student feels good, they have a plan. The parents are appeased, the student has chosen to turn it around. The teacher rolls their eyes. You’ve heard this before.
This student isn’t lying to you. In that moment this student really wants to turn it around. But what they don’t realise is that turning it around doesn’t take one choice. It takes many choices. Made over a long period of time.
- Record their “big choice”, write it down somewhere. Even better, film them telling you about their big choice.
- Discuss how many “little choices” they are going to have to make in service of their big choice.
- Remind them of their little choices when they come into class each day. Or when they forget their homework that night. (I use a Microsoft form in my OneNote that students fill in each day with their intentions for the lesson)
- Keep a running tally of the choices they make. You could do it for them or they could do it themselves. Seeing these choices build up over the term makes it easier to see the end goal.
This reminds me James Clear’s discussion of making and breaking habits.