Teaching Students That Challenge Equals Growth​

There is a lot of talk about resilience in education these days, and for good reason. It is valuable for students to learn that certain subjects, tasks, and ideas may not come easily to them at first, but with persistence, they can get easier.


I’ll add one caveat here: when a student has a learning disability or difference, the challenges are often multiplied and can feel quite difficult. These students will have a different experience than students without learning disabilities. But I believe any student can improve over time with persistence and a growth mindset. 


Think of learning to ride a bike. At first one is wobbly on two wheels and wondering how in the world anyone learns to do it. In my case, I was so worried about running into objects in my path that I would concentrate on them and then ride straight into mailboxes and parked cars. 


I felt like I may never master the balance and coordination needed to ride without training wheels. But I got over that wall, and soon I was riding around the neighborhood without using the handlebars (much to my parents’ chagrin). 


When students keep trying and eventually get over their own walls, most times they will reach that point when they can look back and realize that the task is much easier to tackle than when they began. 


The extra special ingredient here is adults who will gently push and hold space for children in those moments when the learning feels most challenging. Empathy, compassion, and encouragement make all the difference during the student’s time down in the pit. And once they emerge, you can celebrate together. 


(Image credit: Edutweetoz, found on the Mind/Shift FB page.)