By Darlene Lawrence
As an Academic Coach, I am not immune to learning. I learn something every day from students. I welcome and embrace the opportunity and challenge.
Recently, I took some time to reflect on my day. I asked myself what went well, what did not go so well, and what positive impact did I have on my students’ lives. During my time of reflection, I noticed some recurring themes. Students want to be supported, valued, and to succeed.
Here are a few examples:
I was speaking to a student – she was sharing her successes of the day. I asked her if she was proud of all that she accomplished. There was a long pause. I told her I was proud of her and what I was most proud of was her attitude. She had an amazing outlook regarding the challenges that she was experiencing.
Another student was struggling with a test, which he had made several attempts. He was extremely frustrated and I could tell he was beginning to doubt himself. I told him to take a break from his schoolwork. I advised him to go do something for himself. A few hours later he called to tell me that he passed the test after taking a walk around his neighborhood.
Lesson Learned: We all need someone to recognize our efforts and to believe in us. I am asked to mentor, support, guide, and more often than not, to be someone who believes in them. I have found that students want to succeed; they are just not sure how to accomplish the task. We all need role models, mentors, and coaches.
My goal as a Career Online High School Academic Coach is to support students and to provide the scaffolding they need in order to believe in themselves. Early on, students need a significant amount of modeling, and mentoring. But once they develop confidence and have some successes under their belt, watch out! They soon begin to realize that their only limits are the ones that are self-imposed.
When a student is struggling, I listen to determine how best I can help. Often, they simply need a concept explained from a different perspective. I love when I witness the “ah ha” moment and I know it makes sense to them. We all have different learning styles and as educators we should help students realize their learning style: visual, auditory, kinetic, etc.
Have you ever tried to do something a dozen times and wondered why you’ve still failed to achieve a different outcome? Students will struggle in silence, over and over again, and never ask for help. Why? I believe it is because they are embarrassed and for most, failure is all that they know.
Ponder this, if we do not discuss our challenges with someone, how do we grow – move past the roadblocks? It is ok to ask for help. We listen to one another, exchange ideas, learn together, and grow our understanding and knowledge. By doing so, we change our schema (rewire our brains). We are all lifelong learners.
We must remove the negative self-talk and replace it with a positive voice. Where the mind goes, our actions will follow. It is my hope that my students know that I:
- Believe in them
- Celebrate every success
- Will not give up on them
Pay Day: A few short weeks after coaching students, I had “my” first graduate. I was so excited for the graduate and all the possibilities that lie ahead for this person, but most of all, I was extremely proud of them. They did not give up, they did the work, worked hard, and overcame many life challenges to realize their dream – to graduate and earn their high school diploma.
About the Author
Darlene Lawrence served in many roles at both the secondary and post-secondary level, assisting students with pursuing educational dreams and life long learning. She received awards in recognition of her commitment, tireless efforts, dedication and for her power of positive thinking. It is said that her passion is infectious and she never gives up on a student.