Best Idea Ever: The Job of Learning
I spend a lot of time connecting what we do in the classroom with the world of work. For example, I talk to students about how school is their "job" and the effort and hard work they put into that job reflects the success they will have when they enter the working world. I point out that establishing good habits now will bring them rewards in the future.
Students' classroom supplies are the "tools" for their current job. If they are unprepared, I remind them that, in the working world, they would not be able to do heir jobs if they forgot their tools. "Pay day" is when I hand out progress reports or report cards. Their effort is directly reflected in the grades they earned. We also discuss how far they might go in the world of work with the pay they've earned.
Discussions of the workplace are supported by a yearlong effort to teach students strategies for success -- test taking, note taking, listening skills, personal goal setting -- in all their classes. By the end of the year, most students are taking responsibility for their performance, which reflects growth and maturity. In junior high, taking responsibility is sometimes a monumental achievement!