20. Reward Practice Or Strategy

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While we are so focused on results, we can lose how important it is to focus on practice and strategy. The key is to worry more about the journey that your student is taking rather than focusing on the actual result. If a student has come out of their shell, or worked through a particularly rough spell of anxiety, or better yet, kept themselves from starting a major fight with you, that is something to reward. The results don’t matter as much as the effort. If they started to become defiant, but ended it unusually early, don’t focus on the defiant behavior – focus on the fact that they found a way to end that behavior earlier than normal.

This is just as important with students that suffer from major anxiety. While plenty of studies are out there about the how’s and why’s, I can tell you first hand what it was like. I was that anxious kid in school. I was quiet and always had stomach issues related to the fact that I couldn’t get comfortable being in a crowded classroom. The odd thing though, I’m an extrovert. The best teacher I had was the one that let me work through things on my own and encouraged me when I broke out of my shell. After years of work, I ended up as the lead in multiple plays in Jr. High and High School and I was one of the big shots on the debate and speech team. I truly feel that this would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the caring and patient way that a few of my teachers treated me. The key was that they never called on me when they noticed I was having a bad day. I knew the answer, they knew I knew the answers, but they also understood that I could have a meltdown if I had to get up in front of the class and give that answer.