Flip the Switch

I am amazed at the number of students who enter my 7th grade classroom already believing they are a failure, dumb, or can’t do any better. Where does this “Learned” mentality come from? Does it come from parents? school? peers? I want to know who takes a child’s natural motivation to learn and turned it off?

My son, Griffin, amazes me everyday. He has apraxia, which has made it hard for him to learn how to sound out words. He did not speak till 3 1/2 years old. Most people don’t notice his difficulties now because he has worked hard everyday to learn to read and speak. He asks the most amazing questions. When watching the World Series this year, he asked about why their wasn’t a DH in the Giants ballpark? He gets frustrated to the point of crying if he can’t understand your answer. He loves to learn and always wants to know more about how things work.

When I see students at school, who feel they can’t learn more, I want to share Griffin’s story. Often they don’t connect. Middle school students are going through a period of self-centeredness that make it hard to connect to others experiences. Making the connection personal seems to work best.

This two weeks ago, two female students did not get a single answer correct on a 9 question vocabulary  quiz. They both are friends and shared that it was “hard”. When I asked if they studies, both answered “NO, because it was hard.” So how can it become easy if you don’t study? “I am just not good at science!”  Wow, what a vicious self-fulfilling prophecy.

A colleague asked if she could help them on the retake. I passed on the need information and the Quizlet link. After being forced to go over the information “100” times. Both girls scored 100%. The next day when I saw them in the hallway they were beaming with pride. “I didn’t think I could do it” one shared. All the teachers in the hallway helped them celebrate the success. This past Friday, we had another vocabulary quiz. These two girls both aced it.

I hope we flipped the switch of self doubt for these girls. Teachers need to focus, one child at a time, on turning the love of learning back on in their minds. It will make all the difference!

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