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success breeds success

I find that the best weapon against student frustration is success. Any success, even in the smallest thing, gives a degree of confidence and establishes a positive mental "template" for future activity. I have made it a rule for myself that every day, every student should leave the classroom having accomplished something. Towards that end, I make an initial student application as simple as possible, model it thoroughly, even run a rehearsal before the real thing. Once they have had initial success, however, later applications are provide progressively less help and require more original work.

I think this is great information! I teach at a tech school that takes students with no repair skills and puts them into an accelerated learning environment. This works well for most students, but some do not always see the gains in knowledge the make each day. Your method of highlighting the student's accomplishment would serve my students well. Do you do this individually, or at the end of class in a group setting (a way to share individual success, and tie into class success as a whole)?

I'll do it inmediately after the they execute the assignment, so the group have the opportunity to participate. That will give the student an opportunity to put their steam out and identify points that they still need to work on.

Hi James,
Thank you for the kind words about the information. It is always fun to give students complements. I try and do both in terms of supporting students. I like to "debrief" the students after they have done something well while the entire class is there and then I talk to the student individually. I want the student to know that I am pleased with their efforts and that I want to encourage them to improve each time they attend class. This way individual success is recognized and total class success is made a part of helping all students become a part of the learning community.

In a court reporting program, students reach speed plateaus and it can be quite frustrating. I create opportunities for success and laugher at the end of a class so at least for the class period they will leave feeling successful.
Sometimes I use games and sometimes I divide the class into two parts and have a 15-second competition at the end of the class period. The students enjoy the quick, friendly competion and it is a change of routine. No one person is put on the spot, so everyone is successful. So I agree with you that success breeds success.
It is so critiical for each instructor to create a positive environment in the classroom so that each student develops a belief system of success. Instructors set the tone for this success by their tone of voice, their facial expression, and their response to questions.

Hi Joyce,
Well said. You last sentence captures it all. It is no suprise to anyone that instructors are the connection to student success. Sometimes they forget their role when they get bogged down with the day to day activities that go into being instructors. This is when they need to step back, take a deep breath and refresh in their mind's why they are instructors to begin with.

Fred, this is a good idea to build successes. I teach computer networking and I have had similar experiences. Our labs begin simply, and get more difficult. This works the same way.

Bill Adriance

I agree completely! Even if most of my class bombs a test, we use it as a learning opportunity, so that they feel successful eventhough they may have gotten a "D" or "F." I find with many of my students, they are externally motivated, and tend to just give up when they feel like a failure.

My challenge is for those students that always focus on the negative and what they can't do, even if they are competent in other areas. Finding how to motivate and encourage them is definitely a challenge. Any suggestions?

Hi Chrissy,
The suggestion I would make for motivating hard to motivate students is to try and find individual motivators for these students. Generally I can find something that will get that individual student excited about being successful in my class. By establishing rapport with that student I can get him/her to continue trying to be successful and before they know it they have completed the class. Little motivators lead to little success steps which lead to greater motivation for each student.

Your comment that even when students bomb a test is very true. I always look for the positive to keep my students motivated. Even in failure their is some learning. An If I can point a student in the right direction it may be the key that turns the light on inside of them.
So even in a failing effort always try to pointout the things that were correct and continue to build upon them. Some students need the confidence building that goes with positive reinforcement veres dwelling on the failure.

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