Good Peer Pressure, You Say?

As I move into my sixth year of teaching, I’m excited my Toolbox of Effective Teaching Phrases continues to grow!  Here’s one of my favorites:

As I have spent the first five years teaching fifth, sixth, and seventh graders, I’m well aware and probably overly-sensitive to the effect of peer pressure on my students.  But is it always a bad thing?

Every now and then, when there is that one concept that I just don’t have a good way to teach, I drop the following line:

“Listen carefully…you don’t want to be that guy or girl who writes ______________ on ______________!” Insert the commonly used wrong answer and assessment name, respectively.

There’s nothing that perks of sleepy ears or wandering minds faster than the threat of looking vulnerable in front of peers.  Make no mistake: this is one of those don’t-use-it-too-often-or-it-will-never-work concepts.  But every now and then, I throw it out in an attempt grab a few unengaged students and use the [positive] power of peer pressure to be heard.  Also, rest assure, I don’t publicly tease students for incorrect answers on assessment, but the thought of me doing so is enough to grab a few wandering minds every now and then.