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Inspirational Apathy-Busters That Inspire Students to Aspire

When we train teachers around the country, they often tell us that their univers
ity training did not give them much practical, real-world preparation to teach c
hildren with emotional challenges. One area that teachers frequently mention: th
ey are seldom given any useful, ready-to-use training to work with students who
are their "own worst enemies." This article will help. First, remember, though t
hat teachers should seek help from counselors and other mental health profession
als whenever working with troubled students. These interventions can be a starti
ng place, but only within the context of being sensitive to any safety concerns
that vulnerable students can present. All teachers must remember to be sure to s
eek help from their school counselor or social worker before using these ideas w
ith troubled students if there is any possibility of safety issues.
It can be tough to inspire students who are "anti-self" but this creative interv
ention can be a good start. The quote on the worksheet has been attributed to th
e late Les Paul. It says "The same power you have to destroy yourself, you have
to save yourself." You can use this device verbally; it can quickly start a prod
uctive discussion. You could also enlarge the worksheet into a poster. Here is a
wonderful alternative activity: Ask your students to research the life of Les P
aul, who overcome many challenges to reach great heights as a musician and inven
You are going to love this enjoyable, potent activity that can reduce lying. Whi
le this device works with almost any age group, it won't be useful to use with t
he 11-14% of your class that may be conduct disordered. However, this terrific e
xperiential activity can have a lot of impact on the balance of your students.
To conduct this activity, you need lots of big books, or other heavy objects. Di
ctionaries work really well. Before starting, remind students of the requirement
for you to report any disclosures that include safety concerns. To begin the ac
tivity, initiate a discussion of lying. Part way into the discussion, ask for a
student to volunteer to help with a demonstration. Select a student who has alre
ady revealed a lot of past lies-- but be sure to pick a youngster who revealed l
ies that are not serious, consequential, or personal. Do not select youngsters w
ho reveal lies that are serious, intimate, or personal. Ask that student to brie
fly re-state the first lie. As they speak, hand them the first big book. Ask the
student to say their second lie, and hand them another book. Continue the proce
ss until the student is having great difficulty holding all the books, or until
the student drops some books, or the student declines to continue. Discuss with
the class how lies weigh you down until they become impossible to carry.
Students often face struggles that their teachers and counselors can only imagin
e. Many students don't disclose the nature of their distress, and that makes it
very hard to intervene. Here is a powerful intervention that can help you better
understand what your students face. If you have non-writers, you can do the wri
ting portion of this activity as each youngster dictates to you. Ask students to
capture their year as if they were writing a Twitter tweet, which is just 140 c
haracters. Reducing a year to 140 characters may reveal information that could b
e more readily hidden in conversation. Once you know more about the child's worl
d view, you will have a better idea how to reach and inspire them.
You can adapt this idea to Facebook by asking students to give a several sentenc
e long status update summarizing their year. You may permit some students to use
graphics or music instead of just words. Before using this intervention, be sur
e to remind students that if they reveal abusive situations, that you are requir
ed to take protective action. This intervention is better suited for use by coun
selors; if you are not a counselor, consult with one before using the device.