In seventh grade Language Arts we're digging deeper and deeper into our study of short story. This week we continued our study of how a setting impacts a story and began brainstorming our own stories that we'd be interested in sharing for our final project: the creation of a short story video.
This year I've been working with the seventh grade class to have a positive attitude about learning and believing they can accomplish the task set in front of them. As I've introduced tasks over the last month, I've heard a lot of big sighs and groans and seen students shut down. This isn't want I want. I want to challenge students on a regular basis outside of their comfort zone, but I don't want them to be afraid to try their best. I don't want them to see students be frozen for fear of getting things wrong. I'm continually finding myself surprised and saddened by the anxiety students feel today about "doing school."
Therefore, on Wednesday when students began brainstorming their own stories, I didn't allow them to ask questions for the first seven minutes. Students had their notes on the elements of story that they were brainstorming, and I wanted them to think about it for themselves before coming to someone else for the answer. I spent some time affirming their abilities and then asked him to try by themselves. To be honest, it drove them crazy. However, most of them were able to get started by themselves before time was up.
Afterwards, I offered help to students who asked me a question with a positive attitude. If I was met with sighs or groans or "I don't get its," I asked students to regroup, and I'd come back. They all have the ability to do the work, and I want them to believe that for themselves as well. I'm happy to help, but they also need to believe in themselves and the abilities that God has given them.
I then sent this post to my parents and asked them for their support in reinforcing this growth mindset with their students. To encourage (or require) them to ask questions instead of saying "I don't get it" or "I can't do it" or "I don't know what to do." To tell their students that they believe that they can do the work, even when they needs to ask questions along the way. And when they find their student is stuck and unable to ask a question, to try to ask him/her questions instead of just explaining right away. To encourage your child that he/she does not have to be 100% perfect 100% of the time.
What do you do to help students believe in themselves? How do you empower them through the hard tasks? How do you help them to fight the fog, take a step, and be positive?