Hopeful and Confident Students

January 18, 2017


"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." Helen Keller


Several years ago I was introduced to "The Hope Study". This study measured the level of "hope"within students, advanced readers and struggling readers, at the beginning of the school year and at points during the year.


Which group of students do you think were more hopeful at the beginning of the school year? The advanced readers? The struggling readers?


Before I share what the study found, I'd like for you to think about your own experiences with hope. When you are starting something new, whether it be a new year's resolution - a diet - a workout program - a course - a job... how hopeful are you? 


At what point does your level of hope increase or decrease? 


The study revealed that all students, regardless of where they ended the previous year, had high levels of hope at the beginning of the next school year. It makes sense, right? Typically most humans are quite hopeful when starting something new or taking the initial steps to reach a new 'goal'. Students aren't any different. 


For students who struggled, the point at which they started to lose hope was when they failed to see any actions different than the year before. That is to say, they thought they would see changes in how they would be taught that year. Once they saw much of the same from the previous year, they began to lose hope. 


Without hope we give up easily, we lose confidence and we care less. How can we help students begin to take ownership of their  own "hope" levels? 


2 strategies to help your students nurture their own levels of hope:


1. Goal setting is useful when it is meaningful and done purposefully. The first step is always to ensure the goals your student is setting are meaningful to them. Next, help your student develop well-designed action steps towards reaching their "goals". Students who are wanting to make improvements in any area of their life need help creating specific action steps towards reaching that goal. Don't tell them the steps, have them take part in the creation of the steps, but do help them with the process. When students take action and see positive results, they will want to continue the process towards improvement. For students who are struggling, it's likely they haven't experienced much success. Success leads to more success.


2. Ask your student to develop alternate action steps towards reaching their "goals". Students who have plan "b's" in place are less likely to give up when encountering obstacles or challenges. There are usually multiple ways to achieve what we want in life. It's important to explore and learn from why some actions didn't work, not dwell on them. Alternate action steps will only work, however, if the student has a meaningful goal in mind. If it's not something important to them, they are more likely to give up when faced with an obstacle.....with or without alternate action steps in place.


"If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teacher their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don't have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence." - Carol Dweck








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