Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Help Students Overcome their Fears (pt. 1)

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” Sven Goran Eriksson

Before school started, our campus had the privilege of listening to a dynamic speaker- Crystal Kuykendall. One of the things, I remember most was the part when she told us she would get us to learn several new vocabulary words. Most of the audience, including myself, was a little doubtful but I was up for the challenge. After some vivid illustrations, gestures, and storytelling, she was RIGHT! We were able to remember each of those words!

We have all experienced a reluctance to try something new or take on a new challenge because we feared we might fail. Our students are the same way. Based on the experiences they have had with Math, Science, and Reading they may be unmotivated to do any assignments because they are afraid to fail. In Ms. Kuykendall’s book, From Rage to Hope, she provides ways that we can help students overcome their fear of failure. One way is to let them know, up front, they will succeed in this learning environment. Then, we must back it up with unwavering support, a variety of strategies, encouraging words, practice, assessments, and more practice. Secondly, we must help them to see failure as a learning experience. Next, we can share the failures of famous people they know and respect. Finally, we must remind them that they have overcome their fear of failure in the past (like with riding a bike, learning to swim, or learning to read) and they can overcome this fear as well- if they don’t give up!

By the way, I forgot to say that Ms. Kuykendall gave us lots of encouraging words during that activity, and I think that made a the difference!

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