My title says it all- I am exasperated and in a conundrum about how to make students actually do what they say they will do. The "doing" goes from what a student says they will do for a club activity (e.g., making a craft or treat for a dance) to doing their school work. I teach at the middle school level and lately, wherever I go, teachers, parents, and community members are stating to me that s/he is having issues with a teen actually doing what they say they will do. "I hear from the student 'Sure! I love that idea and will paint the backdrop to the set on Tuesday.' Yet, when Tuesday comes the student just does not show up. When I confront the student about the issue the next day the student gives me an excuse about suddenly having an appointment" stated one teacher to me last week. This is, unfortunately, the norm not the exception. Therefore, I implore to you- how do we make them do it? How do we make students commit to what they say they will do (their commitment(s))?
I therefore decided to do a bit of digging, or research. The biggest thing is that the teen needs to see the value of what is being asked to themselves. This means they have to understand what it means for them (selfish anyone?). The obvious answer here is to offer an incentive of sorts. By offering rewards for effort, improvement, or participation, you reinforce in your teenager the values of trying and perseverance, rather than rewarding the act of giving up or resigning. What about school work though, as this can not always be an easy answer. Joseph Shipp states “You have to do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.” (meaning you have to do your school work in order to go to a higher level of education) The next big thing is letting them have a say. This is where exploratory education comes into play. Letting students have a say as to how they show their learning or even what they need to learn is the big thing right now in education. This is ultimately letting the student have a say. It takes a lot of planning on the teachers part, but in the end it is worth it, as students are really showing their learning and not rote learning, because if it is not shown to meet the standards then the student has to show the learning in a different manner. This, then, helps the student learn from their failures (this is the biggest lesson in my opinion). The last thing I read was that all goals need to be achievable, which means that one needs to differentiate what is being asked. For example, I know that with my two sons I can ask one to vacuum and it will be done properly, but the other will just do it half-heartedly. I therefore have to differentiate the chores based on the skill or effort that I know the person will put into what I am asking.
To be honest I did not learn anything new with my research, but it did remind me of everything I need to do at once to try to get the student(s) TO DO IT!