Teaching Optimism to Students in the Classroom


Saving Instinctual Optimism and Intrinsic Motivation

How can a teacher help a student to be both intrinsically motivated and optimistic?

There are many ways that the teacher can help to create the conditions in which a student begins to motivate themselves, or regains such feelings again. It all begins with teaching them to be as optimistic as possible.

Failure is Temporary

Something that many students encounter early in the learning process is a sense of failure. It may be simply answering a question wrong, behaving badly in the classroom, or it might even be the result of some sort of learning disability, but a student must never be permitted to see a single failure or difficulty as a permanent status.

Understanding Optimism

True optimism will allow the child to view any failure as temporary, totally non-personal, and very specific. This is the reason it must be a major focus of a child’s teachers and parents, especially if the student is struggling. To do this mentors and teachers must reframe the student’s perceptions of failure into something more reinforcing and beneficial. They must shape their own verbal responses and answers to any such events, scenarios, feelings, or situations in completely non-judgmental ways. They should aim at expressing to the child that their difficulties are temporary, that success is something coming from hard work, and that they have strengths that will help them get the answers they need.

Specifically, the teacher should, reframe the student’s perception of a frustrating event – discussing the issue with them using non-judgmental terms or remarks is the first step. For instance, a teacher should never assess a failure by jumping into the “where you went wrong” approach.

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