Blogging A-Z: C is for competence. Struggling students are often competent in many areas, but it’s the one (or more) weaknesses which can falsely and unfairly undermine their sense of competence.. Our goal is to make sure that no student is defined solely by their weaknesses. How do we accomplish that? Competence can be experienced when:
1. Students measure their success in those areas of relative weakness. It helps to use undeniable, graphic proof of achievement. In math, reading, and writing, a simplified diagram of requisite skills can be used for measuring growth. Digital portfolios of skills are also effective. (A caveat: students must have appropriate instruction in order to actually make measurable gains.)
2. Students practice making positive self-statements to counter their negative self-talk. Positive expressions can be prompted trough the use of rubrics and checklists.
3. Students have opportunities to assist others, especially their peers. Use student strengths and interests, along with a super job title (math coach or writing assistant), to make the process effective.
4. Students understand their learning profile. It is especially helpful for kids to understand how the brain works. Now that instruction is more strongly influenced by neuroscience, help kids use that to their advantage. It can demystify that global despair of “Why am I so stupid?” and also help kids better advocate for themselves.
This list is not exhaustive and will vary according to student needs. Bottom line: We need to promote an awareness of existing competence while building greater competence through effective instruction.