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Motivating Middlers to Do Their Assignments

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: I'm a guidance intern in a middle school and I'm doing some group counseling with seventh-graders who have been retained. I'm having trouble motivating their sense of responsibility toward doing their assignments. They seem to have this unrealistic attitude that it will not catch up to them, yet they know firsthand that it does. Do you know of any activities or programs that I might try?

A: My guess is that the kids don't have a sense of responsibility because they truly believe they are incapable of succeeding. I would strongly urge you to teach them not only some study skills, but some different ways of thinking. Ann Vernon has written some extremely good books that give detailed agendas for teaching at-risk kids how to change their thinking and thus their behavior through RET (rational emotive theory). I have used these quite successfully.

You might call the ACA (American Counseling Bookstore) at 800-422-2648 to buy these books and other resources. They also have other resources that might prove helpful. ASCA (American School Counselors) also has an extensive bookstore 800-401-2404. They have two books by Jeanne Bleuer: Counseling Underachievers and Activities for Counseling Underachievers that you might find helpful.

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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.

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