Keep Up the Good Work!
By: Matt B.; ERG Coach
Everybody likes being told they are doing a good job. Knowing you are headed the right way on the path towards success or self-improvement is a great feeling. Most of the time, people want to gauge themselves and physically see their improvements. Take, for example, someone who works out often. Although people work out for a number of different reasons (i.e. to become healthier, stronger, or happier) nearly everyone wants to track their progress and see their results. The same goes for students here at the Educational Resource Group. No matter how old a student might be, it is very important that their coach, or trainer, informs them of their progress and improvements.
Adults normally have a stronger sense of what skills they have strengthened in comparison to our younger students. That is why providing positive reinforcement to the children we work with is even more important. Sometimes children don’t put their best effort forward right away. Many of these students, especially the ones with the more significant learning challenges, will need that extra push to make sure they are working as hard as possible and striving towards success.
To provide the proper positive reinforcement, a coach needs to make sure they are constantly tracking their students’ progress. This way, when a student is struggling to improve on a specific task and starts to shut down, the coach can remind them how hard they have worked and how close they are to completing the exercise. “That was the best one yet!” is a powerful statement to a child. Hearing those words of encouragement helps revive the feelings of success and motivation, and could be the extra reinforcement that a student needs to complete whatever it is they are working on in school, at home, or at the ERG.
Another important tool that coaches should utilize with every one of their students is the development of a goal-based system for a student to work through. Remember that feeling of watching your bank account fill up with the money you have been saving towards that new car or stereo? That same type of feeling is shared with a student who watches their words-read-per-minute rise every time they read a new story. Goals are important because they give people something to strive for. Knowing that you really are ‘almost there’ can make a world of difference in the motivation of a student, young or old.
Implementing a system of “mini-goals” for students to work towards is as important as providing positive reinforcement to them. A student’s confidence level may be much higher if they only have to complete five more math problems per minute as opposed to twelve more. Once one goal is reached, a new goal is immediately set up. “Mini-goals” are different from regular goals though. A “mini-goal” is a goal that is more quickly attainable. For example, a student might have a goal of remembering all 44 presidents. That is a tough goal that takes a lot of practice, so it could be a little overwhelming in the eyes of a student at first. If we break it down into “mini-goals” of, “Recite your first ten presidents in ten seconds,” and so forth, the goal then becomes less intimidating and more ‘realistic’ in that student’s mind.
Never underestimate the power of positive reinforcement. Reminding someone, “You are almost there!” can be exactly what he or she needed to stay focused and confident while on the path to success. Setting up the “mini-goals” for students is just as important. Having students watch themselves improve on any area of study is crucial for the development of healthy self-confidence. Combining both positive reinforcement and a system of “mini-goals” for a student to achieve are the ingredients for a motivated and successful student.
“Keep up the good work!”