Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Face Fear

“The boogie man doesn’t exist. That’s why he’s such an effective example, and why you should ignore him. As soon as you look him in the eye, he vanishes.”

My students see learning as the boogie man. As soon as they started falling behind, learning became scary. The more mistakes they made, the bigger the scariness became.

As a child, when I got scared at night, I could run to my parents. Eventually, I got too old to run to my parents. Then I would pull the covers over my head and try to ignore whatever was scaring me. Sometimes I would try to avoid bedtime because I knew I would have nightmares and get scared.

My students act the same way. As younger students, they went to the teacher for help. As they saw their peers acting more independently, they might have been ridiculed for going for help too often. They tried to work on their own but they started falling further behind. Eventually, they tried to ignore the problem by either not doing the work or acting out to take attention away from the problem.

I needed to help my students face the fear. I had to talk to them like a coach and help them get passed the fear. First, I had to get them to talk about what is the worst that could happen. By verbalizing the fear, it decreases in size. Then I want them to know that they won’t face the fear alone and I will be right there beside them. When you aren’t alone, you feel stronger and less afraid. When small successes happen, fear decreases in size even more. It is also important to talk about setbacks and not let fear grow back in size. Again, by verbalizing the fears, it keeps it from growing.

When success happens, the student can look back and see that the fear of failure was just like the boogie man. Making mistakes is not the end of the world.

Photo by DDP on Unsplash

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