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Many Marvelous Back-to-School Motivation-Makers -by Ruth Herman Wells
Just in time for the return to school, here are a few of our most popular and powerful apathy- busters, all designed to build interest and enthusiasm for school.
As you read the strategies below, pick interventions that fit your students, and match your style, community and setting. If you like our interventions, come to our class, or get some of our books and get hundreds more must-have methods, all designed to awaken your sleeping students!
* Will You Need Education When Life Strikes?:
Inform students that they will be playing "Life Strikes," a game that tests if school is necessary to the future. You should have already prepared 'Life Strikes' slips of paper, with enough for 3-10 slips per student. Each slip should have a statement on it, such as "Your HMO is denying your claim" or "The state wants to condemn your property." Distribute the slips giving 3-9 slips per student. Ask students to read aloud their slips then determine if education can help when life strikes.
* BONUS Intervention: Ask students to create a soap opera called "As Life Strikes." Each student adds a sentence to the soap opera story. After the story ends, ask students to identify the times that education was needed.
* Employer Directions Require Educated Deductions: Show students that all/nearly all jobs require education. Have them detail how they would follow employer instructions such as "Make sure that you only send widgets to people in the Pacific Time Zone but not to anyone who in the 510 area code or in the L.A.
metropolitan area who lives within the county limits." Alternatively, have students actually attempt to use actual work place forms, applications, manuals and directions, gathered from occupations known to interest your students.
* BONUS Intervention: Ask students to name all the jobs that require no education of any type, which means no written job application; no writing at all; no reading signs, labels or forms; no completing government tax W-2 forms; no customer interaction; no phone usage; no paycheck with deductions on the pay stub; no schedule to follow; no rules or policies to understand, etc. There may be no jobs like that...
* Dropping-Out Can Leave You Defenseless
This is a very intense intervention only for older students who are incredibly sour and negative about school, and are close to dropping out. Be sure to use this intervention only if it is appropriate for the student and your setting, and be sure that you use respect, kindness and a gentle style.
Upon entry into your school or agency, ask the student to sign a very complex-looking contract with text that the student is unlikely to understand. After school starts, and the student begins complaining that school has no value, show the student the contract that they signed long ago, upon entry. Inform the student that the document is an agreement that the student will never ever do any of her favorite activities again, such as using the phone, interacting with friends, etc. Note that education, especially reading skills, could have helped. Assist the student to determine what similar situations could occur in the future when education could help.
* Diplomas Deliver Dollars
As of 1998, drop-outs earned about $16,000 per year, but high school grads, earned nearly $7,000 more. Note that earning a college degree can almost double your annual income. Teach students that each degree can almost double the dollars they earn. If necessary, use automobile, housing and grocery ads to show how little $16,000 in annual income buys in our contemporary time.
Do you like these interventions designed to motivate youth to see the value of school? This isn't a topic that is widely covered-- especially if you are seeking practical strategies, not theory. If you want more maximum-strength motivation-makers, consider our Breakthrough Strategies Workshop (live or recorded). Our books, "Education: Don't Start the Millennium Without It" and "Turn On the Turned- Off Student" are also packed with powerful motivation-makers that you can't get anywhere else. Call 1-800-545-5736 or visit http://www.youthchg.com for more info.
Ruth Herman Wells is the director of Youth Change http://www.youthchg.com and the author of dozens of books on helping troubled and problem youth.
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