Years ago, one of my sisters gave me a pretty little notebook. It’s come with me through a few moves, and I’ve gradually collected quotes within it for inspiration.
Today, I opened it to the last page to see if I could find a quote to fit what I had in mind for today’s entry.
The first quote jumped right out at me.
“Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.” – Morihei Ueshiba
Ordinarily, I look at this quote and see it applied to individual people. It’s hard to keep going once you’ve failed at something, especially when everyone else seems to do it easily.
Today, I looked at it and thought of adults relating to kids with learning differences.
The school year is winding down, and it’s a time of relief and celebration for most families. For others, those final grades and news of summer school or grade repetition can be devastating.
Homeschooling isn’t always an option and the fight to get a school district to pay for specialized private schooling can be prohibitively expensive, too. When it seems the only choice left is to stick with a school that doesn’t fit the kids, it’s hard not to just give up.
It can also be hard not to blame the struggling student.
At this point, it’s a good idea to take a step back, and distract everyone from that particular issue in favor of something more pleasant long enough to calm down. Then, look back to try seeing what went wrong the year before.
Which areas did the student do well in? Which ones did they struggle in? How can you incorporate the student’s strengths into the areas they struggle with?
Were there behavioral patterns in relation to life events or classes? How can you improve coping mechanisms?
Like most adults with LD, I’ve done a lot of failing in my life. I’ve done my fair share of giving up, too.
Over the years, I’ve learned to look at failure as a checkpoint in life. It’s a sign that something obviously wasn’t working, and that if I want to succeed, I need to figure out what went wrong. If I can pinpoint that, I can then make adjustments and give it another try.
When I was working as a tutor, I tried to keep that philosophy in mind when I was helping struggling students. They’re under a great deal of pressure and may be nearing the ends of their ropes, but it was my job to help them through the rough patch and help them learn the skills needed to pass whatever course they were taking.
It seems to me that the same applies to younger students as well.
Instead of giving up on these struggling kids when they fail at something, use it as a lesson for yourself and them.
Failure’s not an ending; it’s just a detour.