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AL Forsan International School
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مدارس الفرسان العالمية
مدارس الفرسان العالمية

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بادر بالتسجيل في #مدارس_الفرسان_العالمية للعام الدراسي 2018-2019
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Power of Conviction
This chapter follows on from the Power of Expectations to highlight an area where many of us as educational professionals and parents alike fail. The Power of Conviction – This basically means if you say it, then mean it! This is one of those powers that is easy to say and understand but very difficult to put into practice as it takes a steadfastness, that all too often we are willing to compromise for that easy life. I use that phrase deliberately because I would like you to reflect on it at the end of this piece.
I would like to share a story with you of when I observed a woman in Riyadh as she was dealing with a naughty child, who kept pushing the trolley into the path of other shoppers. (Stay with me I am aware of the cultural sensitivity) The child was having a tantrum and as a bargaining tool the mother said “if you behave yourself, you can have some sweets. But if you keep up this behaviour, then no sweets for you”. ‘
“I’m a good girl aren’t I mummy, I can have sweets” said the elder child who was sitting in the trolley
“Yes you can, as you are being very good” affirmed the mother as she compared one child’s behaviour to the other. (We can read about the comparing and contrasting no no’s later on in the book).
I decided to stay quiet and follow the mother and two children around the store. (This sounds a bit creepy, but please stay with me). The child continued to be naughty and I recorded 8 times that the mother stated “That’s it, no sweets for you”
More protestations from the child at the checkout and the child received the reward that she had been craving for, as her perseverance in bad behaviour resulted in Mummy opening up some sweets and handing out the treat for the easy life.
The story does not end there though. The mother now needs to take her two children to the upstairs part of the mall where there is a food court next to an indoor fun fair.
“Come on, we need to go to eat now” says the mother as she pushes her trolley full of packed shopping. (I follow again, which now sounds very stalkeresque, but in the interests of behavioural science I trust you will push through that awkward feeling you may have right now).
“Fun fair, fun fair, fun fair.” starts the naughty kid
“You can have the fun fair after we have had some food.”
“Fun fair, fun fair, fun fair.” she continues
“No we must have dinner first.”
“Fun fair, fun fair, fun fair” Now even the good child is joining in. (Probably recognising that this bad behaviour is actually showing some fruit).
“I’m not going to say this again”. Repeats the mother. (Not sure how many times that she has said this as I lost count when we were in the lift on the way to the food court…. And no, I am still a stalker).
“Fun fair, fun fair, fun fair” (At this point, even I wanted to join in with the catchy chant, but restrained myself from adding to her problem).
Finally at the entrance to the food court the mother gives in, takes a deep breath and turns right instead of left towards the fun fair. “Fine! Three rides and then its dinner time.
It is at this point I feel as if I have to interject to give advice. I turn to the woman dressed in an abaya and headscarf. “Habibti” (Arabic expression meaning darling).
I thought I was giving my best, most empathetic look…. But this was met with scorn and outrage that I should interject in matters of parenting.
“Habibti? …Pause… Hab beeb ti? (It’s at this point; I probably regretted my interjection full of good intentions).
“Don’t even think of giving parenting advice, with your ‘Power of …. Convictions” She spluttered out in frustration.
I gave a contented smile of victory that my ‘How2Learn Power’ book had reached this lady…. My wife sent a smile straight back at me that said, we will see tonight if that gloating smile was worth it. My smile disappeared. It was at that moment I realised that there is a power in not winning every battle and certainly not showing the (‘I know better’) smile to my wife.
Children are constantly doing a cost benefit analysis regarding their behaviour and they are very good at it. If we continue to choose to have easy moments, the children will understand that the negative behaviour, done consistently enough will lead to a potential reward. The Power of conviction is a tool used to lessen the impact of a child’s negative persistence, as they learn their resistance is futile.
I want to conclude by asking you to reflect on the phrase at the beginning. ‘Compromise for that easy life’. The phrase itself is incorrect. It should state, compromise for that easy moment. It is only in that moment where the life becomes easy. The life is made more difficult. Great teachers know the difference and are willing to go through challenging moments knowing that their lives in the classroom will be easier.
 
Disclaimer: My wife has over a decade of educational experience and supports numerous teachers in their own development.  As a mother she is fantastic, masAllah and the story is only to highlight the ‘Power of conviction.’
My advice to father’s is not to copy what I did. Not even in the interests of behavioural science would I recommend following your wife around the shopping mall as she struggles with shopping and two children whilst you bury your head in your mobile phone.
 
I have seen many teachers dip into what I like to call the teacher’s toolbox. The toolbox is full of tricks to support educational excellence and great teachers know which tools to use at the right time. How many of us have heard the phrase….’ If I have told you once then I have told you a thousand times….’ Exaggeration is like shouting or sarcasm. It may work once or twice, but it will inevitably fail to get you the result you need and really should not be used. One of the most powerful tools that I have seen teachers use is the smile. You do not have to be a strict disciplinarian with a scowl that whips students into shape. Some of the most powerful teachers I have come across have excellent class discipline that they lead with a smile. It is incredible to observe children understanding positive reinforcement that is led with a smile. The focus is then on the expectations and not the consequences of any misdemeanour. One of the questions that I get asked regarding class management is how to control groups of misbehaving children that are feeding off each other’s naughtiness. There is no hard and fast rule as to what action is appropriate, be that a threat to call parents or a detention. The trick in the teacher’s tool box that I prescribe is that whatever tool you use to control, make sure that it is not done in mass. Never punish a whole class for what a minority have done and do not give a punishment to the group that are behaving badly. Divide and conquer may seem an extreme phrase to use in education, but one can use this to manage their class effectively. If you have several children that are behaving inappropriately, make sure that everyone is aware of what the expectations are of the class. If there is a way of communicating this to the parents at the beginning, then this will support you collaborating effectively if their behaviour needs to be managed. Many teachers use the threat of calling a parent and there is nothing wrong with this as long as you use the power of conviction and that it is done, and only done on an individual basis. The call to the parents should be done without the student’s knowledge. If the student is aware that their parents have been called it gives them the opportunity to give their version of events, that almost always paints the picture that the child is the victim and that the evil teacher has been put on this earth to destroy every child and their education. You may think this idea is a bit extreme, but after countless parent teacher conferences, I can assure you that I have concluded many an investigation that started off from a similar standpoint.
The reason why we do this on an individual basis is that it allows the parents to support the child getting back on track with the class expectations. If there are several students that are in the class and are disruptive we have won a small battle and turned that group of seven into six. The chances are that the child will inform others of what occurred and the numbers that are disruptive will be reduced. If not another call to another parent and the process starts again. You have now turned six into five and it certainly won’t be long before the others follow suit in conforming to the class expectations. The benefit of using this particular tool in the teacher’s toolbox is that not once have you set rules, better still you have not focused on delivering any consequences. However you have managed a class as individuals and allowed them to find their own way which has a sustainable approach to developing their characters positively. Now when you talk as a teacher the children will listen and know that when you make a statement, you actually mean it.
 
Power of Conviction – Great teachers only make statements that they are prepared to follow through with.
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