The Pep Talk
Parent-teacher conferences have come and gone, Progress reports have come and gone, and now some students have math grades very different from their other classes - but not different in the good sense of the word! At this point some parents will ask me, 'Can you talk to_____(my son or daughter).' Naturally, parents want their child to get the best grade possible and I too want them to get the best grade possible but the talk that parents have had with their child hasn't yielded the desired results so I'm called in for back-up. I know from working individually with hundreds of students that if I come down on them too hard they will shut down, get more stressed and/or resistant and learning becomes that much more impeded. If I am too soft with them they can be too lax in their efforts and not achieve their potential. So I have come to think of this as 'the pep talk.' I review with the student what their approach to their class has been up to that point: how much time do they spend studying, do they ask questions in class, are they actively participating in their class or are they relying too heavily on their tutor as a substitute for their class and their own individual effort. I emphasize that I believe that they can be doing better with a refocused and fine tuned approach. I also ask them about their college and career ambitions and explain that they will need a higher understanding of math to get where they want to go. I aim to make them feel empowered and to realize that they are doing this for themselves and I'm there to support them in their efforts but they need to take charge of their learning. I focus on where they can improve and tell them they can do it. Each pep talk is slightly different given the situation but my goal is to emphasize the positive and encourage students to keep going forward in the right direction. I am not a counselor, life coach or anything like that so I just stick to helping students the best I can with their math, but occasionally, after knowing a student and family for awhile I will be asked to say a few things along these lines and I'm happy to do it. If you feel you or your student needs a pep talk, let me know. I am still working on my best-selling motivational self help book so it will be mostly just words of encouragement, ie a 'pep talk' - but that may be exactly what your student needs.
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