Do Your Students Rent or Own Your Classroom?
Author: Connley Skeen
September 21, 2016
Over the course of our lifetime, most of us have had the opportunity to rent an apartment, a condo, or a home. Also, many of us have experienced the opportunity to rent a car—either because of a business trip or while on vacation or when the car was in the shop.
If we are honest with ourselves, we tend to look at the “rental” option in a home or car as a simple transaction, with the main goal of retaining our security deposit. Our mindset is to minimize the damage we cause to said property. For example, how many of you have ever taken a rental car to a car wash prior to returning the vehicle, or replaced the carpet in your rental apartment before you moved out?
By contrast, when we own a home or vehicle, we have a completely different paradigm. The constant care we show our homes and vehicles is a testament to the value and pride we feel with ownership. Every decision is based upon improving the value of our property. We routinely get our cars washed, walls painted, carpets cleaned, plumbing replaced, gutters cleared, and lawns mowed because we have a vested interest in the property’s value and care.
At the dawn of this new year as educators, we need to ask a very simple question: “Do my students rent or own my classroom or school?” My bet is that the majority of your “issues” this year will be because your students feel no ownership when they enter your classroom or school each day. They are tenants and will treat the “rental property” with uninspired behaviors, hoping only to get through the day with minimal effort toward improving the emotional value of your room.
However, once students feel that they are owners of your classroom, their paradigms shift. Every decision they make will reflect the pride they feel about “their” space. They will routinely do the extra things to maintain the value of the room, while also making improvements and critical instructional decisions with their efforts.
The sooner your students change their paradigm from a renter to an owner, they will—by nature—dramatically increase the probability that they will move from simply occupying the space passively to outperforming their academic potential each day.
- Make a list of your class roster and ask each student if he or she is a renter or an owner.
- Release your inner “control freak” to your students by providing them with authentic leadership roles/action teams for each one.
- Establish “etiquette expectations” with your students instead of rules.
- The walls of your classroom should be covered with their work, their bulletin boards, and their pictures.
Do you want to be a landlord for 180 days, or give your students a deed to your classroom before the end of September? I can assure you, the academic achievement potential of your students, the disciplinary “reactions” you experience, and the overall joy of each day will be impacted by the paradigm you adopt.
After all, the joy of ownership is indescribable, regardless of age!