Here’s one I began using at the start of this school year and which seems to be working fairly well.
I’ve had individual meetings with students who are clearly considered leaders by some of their classmates, but who have not been the most conscientious in their work or in their behavior. Here’s an example of one of them (we had it in Spanish, but I’ll recount it in English):
Me: In English, there is an expression: “star power.” You are have “star power.” You are clearly popular and very sharp, and are going to have a successful life – even if you don’t focus a whole lot in class and instead choose to talk with others and get them off-task, too. You have power. Other students are struggling. A question is how are you going to use your power? Are you going to use it just to benefit you and enjoy yourself or…..
Student interrupting me: …or am I going to use it to help others, too?
Me: Bingo. You got it. What is your answer?
Student: I’m going to use it to help others, too.
They all haven’t gone as easily, but all have ended well.
There has been a marked improvement the past few weeks in all of their behavior. And, importantly, this discussion has provided me with a much more positive intervention when they get off-task than, “Please get back to work” or “Come one.”
All I quietly say is “Use your power.”
It feels a lot better to me, and I think me saying that to them feels a lot better to them, too.