6 Statements that Focus on Students’ Growth and Persistence

October 9, 2014

“I give up.”
“I’m not good at this.”
“This is too difficult.”

At one point or another, we’ve all heard these from students. Yet such statements are reminiscent of what researcher Carol Dweck calls a “helpless pattern,” a response to failure that occurs when children denigrate their intelligence and no longer apply themselves to the task at hand.

But it’s normal to struggle at least a little bit when learning new concepts. Check out these six statements that help reframe failure and encourage students to persist through those challenges.

When students say…

Try responding with…

“I’m not good at this.”

“You’re not good at this yet, but you can be after more practice.”

“I give up.”

“Giving up is a choice. Instead, try solving this problem a different way.”

“This is too hard.”

“If we can first figure out why you’re struggling, then we can find a way to move forward with this.”

“I can’t do this any better.”

“Are you done yet? If not, how can you do this better?”

“I’m not a math person.”

“Right now, you may not feel comfortable with this material because you’re still learning it. Just because you’re struggling with this doesn’t mean you’re not a math person.”

“I’ll never get this right.”

“You’ve really improved on solving these types of problems. Given more time and practice, you can get this right.”

What do you hear students say while learning math? Share your own student statements and responses with us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Google+!

Post by Stephanie Li, PRIME Fellow


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