Unsurprisingly, it happened again. The moment Josh walked through my classroom door on the first day of school, I knew he was a leader. And unfortunately, it was clear he was a sour leader. A rebel leader. A leader who used his powers for evil… pardon the hyperbole.
As Josh plopped himself down at the assigned table, his swarm of groupies circled about, snickering with the roll of jests he felt obligated to spout off. His poor behavior rippled outward from himself, to his immediate entourage, and then to the class at large.
I began by writing him a short, positive note, expressing my excitement of having him in my class. Later, I called his mother to tell her the same. I even braved an outdoor basketball game during the students’ lunch break. My original efforts to connect professionally yet personally seemed to fall flat. Yet, with time, Josh began to come around. The jokes began to decrease while his participation increased. His attitude began to shift from caustic to indifferent - and eventually to engaged.
I knew I had him when, by mid-September, I overheard Josh and his groupies in the hall approaching my class before the tardy bell. Josh led them, as loud as ever; however, when nearing my door, he bellowed, “Hey! Quiet down! We’re sharing our stories in English today, remember? We gotta get our bell-ringer done quick so we can have more time!”
Then, seconds later, students began to file in as silent as could be… with Josh leading them forth at the helm.
Nathan Cureton is a passionate educator, author, and leader, sought after to speak at schools, conferences, and universities.