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100 Repetitions

What is our role in the lives of struggling students?
by

Bruce Harrison

on 11 December 2012

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Transcript of 100 Repetitions

What is our role in the lives of struggling students? 100 Repetitions What it Takes Preserve Relationships Highlight Every Bit of Growth This content is borrowed, with gratitude, from an article by the same name in the October 2012 edition of Educational Leadership. The author is Jeffrey Benson. Modified by Bruce Harrison for application to the online environment. Help the Student Accurately Understand the Consequences "The student has already failed a course, lost a friend, been kicked out of the house. You don't need to be punitive in your actions or tone. The world is already supplying the natural consequences for the student. Clarify those consequences, and talk about the way things could be different the next time.... Young people can think they've just ruined their entire future when they've tried and failed, so a teacher's realistic weighting of the situation is a necessary antidote to resignation." "You can't stop him from failing. It's his right to fail. Your job is to help him have a useful repetition of his failure. Your job is to let [him] know you'll hang in through his failures." Hanging in doesn't mean a free pass. It means you'll talk sympathetically about the truth of the situation the student has created. "Melinda, you logged into the class every day and tried to turn in the work on time, but your grade was low because you didn't always make it. Thanks for letting me know you feel bad about it. Feeling bad is what humans do at these times." "Teachers of troubled students need to know that the road to success is paved with many useful failures." The online learning environment, at all educational levels, has a special problem with students who quit. Or never start. Or will not communicate. How can we make a difference to those students? What role can we play in their lives? "Many... have to have 100 repetitions of getting fired from jobs, getting sick, losing boyfriends and girlfriends, and failing a class before they know what they have to do.... There are no magic tricks. Our role as educators is to align with the healthy potential in each student and hang in while they gradually find shelter in our expectations and caring." "Don't make students' struggles a personal issue. They have not failed you. Let them know you are strong enough to withstand their struggles on the path to success, however long that path may be." "It can take a long time to reach the 100th repetition. These students need many pats on the back for what they tried to do right. It's a rare failure that's without a redeeming moment of good will and effort." Online Students Can Know and Be Known The online environment would seem to be an easy place to hide. Ironically, the tools we have for communication, and the links to the home school's resources, give us many ways to seek out the student and make contact. To Robert who has not completed his Discussion posts: "I'm happy you responded to the prompt, and we can make plans to help you complete your replies to other students next time. You're far from failing the course. What do you think? Our online students may be geniuses, or addicts, or both. They may have loving 2-parent families or borrow a sofa from a friend who is living in an off-season hotel. They may be cosseted and protected in their homes or live in fear. They may be the treasured baby of the family or have children of their own to raise. Students of all these types are in online courses, and any of them may struggle. What is our role? You may only be able to take the student from failure number 35 to number 80, and never see the result of the 100th useful repetition. Without you, he'd still be on the 35th. You are essential in his life.
THEY HAVE NOT FAILED YOU!
Students will persevere in the online world IF they know that they are not there alone. Tamara, you tried so hard. You don't need to try harder. We just have to figure out a way to help you try SOONER!
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