We all have sticking points in life. These are areas where we seem to encounter the same struggles again and again. When we find ourselves stuck in one of these familiar ruts it can be frustrating and even depressing. The good news is that we have the ability to look at things through new eyes. All it takes is a little willingness on our part.
I worked with a young man who had all the tools to be an above average student. Unfortunately, he also had a habit of rushing through his assignments. As a result, his work often appeared jumbled and illegible. To compensate for his low marks he would make jokes at inappropriate times. This would lead to trouble with his teacher. Over time he started to believe that success was not an option for him and so he cared even less about his writing.
Sitting with this young man, it was clear that all he needed to do was slow down. At first, he was unwilling to take any suggestions from me and continued to complete his assignments with sloppy haste. After a few months of working with him, we developed some trust and he had a breakthrough. He became willing to do one simple step to improve his writing. This was to make sure that there was enough space between his words. By slowing down to make this small adjustment, his work became more legible and his ideas were communicated more clearly. As he received praise from me and his classroom teacher, his attitude and behavior also improved. All it took was a willingness to do one thing in a new way.
Working with students like this, who are caught in a negative tailspin, provides wonderful opportunities to learn more about myself. It is clear that this student believed the solution to his problems were miles away. From my place as a neutral observer, it was clear that his success was much closer than he believed. Anyone who has ever tried to help a struggling friend or loved one will know exactly what I mean.
One of the first steps in helping a student to turn over a new leaf is fostering a willingness to try something new. Often it helps to see that things are not as bad as they believe them to be. As they feel supported,. they begin to see and accept the help that is available. From there they see a snowball effect of positive transformation.
Perhaps you have been struggling with something that has been bothering you for a long time. Something you wish you could change for the better. One step you can take right now is to realize that you are not supposed to know it all. You are here to learn. As such, everything you have tried in the past can be labeled a success, even if it only helped you to clarify what does not work.
Take a moment, to be honest with yourself about an area in which you would love to see positive change. Consciously label every past attempt to make this change a success. Feel the truth in this statement. As you do, a new energy and enthusiasm will well up from within. From this renewed state of mind, you will catch new ideas about your next steps. Best of all, you will feel excited about taking those steps and the success you seek is sure to follow.
Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District. For questions, comments, and ideas for future columns, send an email to: EdwardBiagiotti@ccusd.org