Sunday, November 1, 2015

Success Isn't Easy

Post by Brad Bannerman: Brad is in his 2nd year as Academic Interventionist at Bettendorf High School. You can follow Brad @bradbannerman

The other day I was talking to one of my students about success. He has been working very hard to turn his school career and personal life around, and had been having a lot of frustration and depression about what he sees as a lack of progress. I told him that none of us start out as experts in anything we do, and to take heart in the progress he has made so far; his grades were better in the last quarter than they had been before, and he was consistently making better decisions in his personal life.

He responded by telling me that he had made a mistake in his personal choices and it was apparent that he was beating himself up over it. I told him that he needs to understand that he is human; mistakes happen. Instead of beating himself up over it, he should reflect upon what led up to the mistake and role-play, mentally, how he could have reacted differently so that he knows what to do the next time this happens.

I reiterated that success is difficult, and we often fail many times or make many mistakes before we can find consistent success. I suggested he write out his feelings and concerns when he is feeling down so that he can get past the self-criticism and move on to the self-reflection. He agreed to try it and seemed to move on.

But what I said seemed to stick with me; all too often I beat myself up over the mistakes I make, or the failures I perceive as my fault. Instead, I need to reflect upon the changes I can make to avoid these mistakes again. I need to be proactive and reflective rather than reactive and overly critical. This is a key point to finding success in the field of teaching as well as in more focused job of academic interventionist--I already view students who succeed with me as their success, I just help bring it out; likewise I can't view students who fail to find success as my fault, could I do things better or differently to help them find success? Likely so, but I can't take their lack of success personally. Instead I should reflect on the small successes they had and focus on different ways to help them.

I don't think I can ever be a true expert Academic Interventionist, because every student is different--there is no cure-all. Instead, I can become an expert at reflection and adaptation so that I can do everything in my power to give students the chance to find success in their own way.

1 comment:

  1. I love how you're developing a strong growth mindset, as well as building relationships. It's much easier to kick someone to the curb, but any successful educator knows how impactful it is to watch students embrace failure as a way to develop their skills. Thanks for sharing Brad, this is such a great reminder how powerful our profession can be!