Your students need you to be constantly reminding them of exactly what their responsibilities are so they can keep moving forward.

“Dear Classroom Whisperer:

I’m a 7th grade teacher at a Title 1 school in California and I’m really frustrated with my students. They just don’t seem to care at all about their education or their future.

How can I make them understand how important their education is to their future and that they need to take more responsibility for it?

Mrs. C., Frustrated in Fresno.”

Dear Mrs. C., Frustrated in Fresno:

Do you remember what you were like in 7th grade? I don’t. But what I do remember is that my parents were very strict. So my effort in school reflected my fear of being grounded much more than my sense of responsibility. Why? Because I was a operating from a different part of my brain which was more concerned about feelings than about outcomes.

Children and young adults process information with the amygdala or feeling brain, instead of the prefrontal cortex or thinking brain that we use as adults. That means good judgment and responsibility aren’t things they can excel in – at least not yet. The rational part of a teen’s brain is not fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so.

It’s easy for us to forget the realities of brain development, and that our job requires us to be the person most responsible for the learning that takes place in our classroom. Your students need your help with motivation and encouragement because they can’t think that far ahead yet. They need you to be constantly reminding them of exactly what their responsibilities are so they can keep moving forward and I know they’re lucky to have you.

Thanks so much for your question and for all you do everyday to give our kids the skills they need to really succeed.

If you have a question, reply to this post, find me on Twitter @rustymayinc or you can email me.


Rusty May is a Classroom Whisperer who thrives to inspire educators to connect more completely with all their students by training them to be assertive classroom managers and positive disciplinarians. In 2002 Rusty created SchoolToolsTv.Com, a daily SEL show that reaches 25k Students per day. His inspiration are his wife and their two children.

Rusty’s trainings are fun, interactive and full of real tools you can start using in your classroom the very next day without any prep or additional busy work on your end. Ask for a free quote today!