Monday, October 8, 2012

The Power of "I Think I Can"

I have several students who struggle with math. That's okay. Perfectly normal. My job is to work with them and help them improve anyway.

By the time they get to me, these struggling students have often come to the conclusion that they can't do math, period. So a big part of my job is to undo that damage.

Not. Easy.

I'm not a magician, so it doesn't always work. But if I can find one thing they're successful with, reinforce it, and find another ... sometimes that sets off a chain reaction. They think maybe they can do a few things in math. They're a little more willing to try, a little more patient with their own mistakes.

They stop saying, "I can't." Instead, they ask questions.

And that can build momentum that'll take them far, long after they leave my class.

Other times, the barrier remains. They've given up. They refuse to believe. (So I try a little harder, try other ways. Jury's out on whether it works in a lot of cases.)

How often in our own lives do we let "I can't" become self-fulfilling? Not that saying, "I can," instantly makes all possible ... but it certainly doesn't hurt as a first step.

What helps you get past that, to begin to believe it might be possible?

And when the larger obstacles come, what helps you keep going?


Megan said...

What really helps me is see another person's success. When I first started writing, I used it as my outlet. I did it for a release. After researching I found lots of people get published. After hearing, (reading) stories about average people being successful in the writing industry, I thought to myself, what if I could get published? My hopes became wild at the thought of maybe one day (fingers crossed) getting published. I didn't stop at 'what if'. I let myself believe as you state, I can.

When harder times come I look to the past and say, look at what you have over come. Look at how far you have moved on, & it gives me the courage to push past the obstacles.

wljennings said...

YOU asked: "And when the larger obstacles come, what helps you keep going?"

And I answer: Beauty.

Math is sublime beauty. Humans seek that above all else.and you know where to find it in math. Well... try it.

E.B. Black said...

I wish I had had you as a math teacher.