Today more than ever, our schools are filled with rules. Like it or not rules are necessary to keep students safe. We can’t tolerate guns or drugs in school buildings or their surroundings. We want bullies to know they are not in charge of our students. We have rules against discrimination and rules that demand modifications for students with learning challenges. In some schools you can’t wear hats, hoods or head-gear or even carry large book bags in the hallways. In other schools you have to walk up one stairway and down another in order to help students get to class on time. Most school rules are important. Some we just tolerate. And let’s be honest, some we ignore until they are taken off the rule list completely.
Life Rules Matter
Beyond the school rules, though, I believe it is most important to teach our students LIFE rules. This is not so easy, but vital for their future success. I like to start with the rule of 10-10-10. When I see students getting frustrated or overwhelmed I like to refer to it in the classroom. The 10-10-10 rule is simple. Look into the future, stop and think:
Is what I’m doing or worrying about right now going to matter ten days from now? Well is it?
- Is what I’m doing or worrying about right now going to matter in ten months?
- Is what I’m doing right now going to matter ten years from now?
Some teens stress out over something that isn’t even going to matter in ten minutes. “Look at this text message! What do you think he means by that?!” In ten minutes the bell will ring and you can ask him.
These three questions really help our students understand how to evaluate the ways they spend their time. They are also questions that need to guide our own lives. Isn’t that why we chose teaching after all? We chose a profession that would impact our student’ lives for more than ten years. (If we do it well).
When I take a break from my writing to pick up a grandchild from gymnastics or attend a baseball game to watch my grandson play ball, I’m doing something that will matter even ten years from now. I want my grandchildren to know they matter to me. I must do that now. In ten years, four of my grandchildren will be living away from home. This is the time I must build a permanent relationship with them. I am very aware of that. THIS is when they look forward to seeing me. I want them to remember that I was an important person in their lives I want them to know that they are important people in MY life.
However, when I’m writing I don’t answer the phone for a number I don’t recognize. I’ll finish my task and then listen to my messages.
Both of those responses honor the 10-10-10 rule. Recently while shopping I saw a little plaque that read:
I always have time to talk about how busy I am
Ouch. Aren’t we all a little guilty of that?
Using these three questions can make us and our students just a little bit more aware of how much time we spend on useless drivel. Teachers spend hours and hours doing things that will not matter one whit in ten days. So much minutia is thrust upon us. We have to learn to just say no to time wasters if we want to accomplish our bigger dream of helping our students become all that they can be.
Likewise students are completely inundated with electronics.
Technology has turned our teens and far younger children into electronic junkies. They stop any important project…driving, making eye contact with a parent or friend, or especially listening to a teacher, to respond to an endless barrage of text messages. Screening these interruptions and prioritizing what is really important is a skill that must be taught. What is our ultimate goal? Focus on what will still be important in ten years. Are our students working toward long-term goals or becoming a slave to trivial interruptions?
Making them aware of the ten-ten-ten rule will help them sort it out for themselves. Maybe they won’t even “get it” right now. But ten years from now, when they are trying to reprioritize their lives, they may understand the wisdom we were trying to share.
TEACH…To Change Lives
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