Helping Students Overcome Work Inhibition
It is important for work-inhibited students to participate in any plan to change and any plan must include supportive help through frequent conferences that focus on successes. See information on motivation and maladaptive behavior of inadequacy.
Ask students how they feel they have been progressing.
However, be prepared for them to say they don't know, dwell on mistakes, or want you to tell them how you think they are doing. Concentrate on the positive as much as possible:
"Chris, from what I have seen this past week. I think you understand what you've been reading and know the vocabulary pretty well. Your work in math shows that you are pretty good with math reasoning and you understand when to use the different operations. In class your participation is usually pretty good and you have been treating your fellow students well."
Encouragement should support students to develop their own strategies to improve their own efforts. This can be done by asking students what assistance may have been beneficial in the past and if they have suggestions for what might help. This doesn't mean you can't offer suggests. When you do try to include as many options as is reasonable for the development of the student. Be sure to include a discussion of the consequences and let the student know they will be the one who will have to make the decision.
"You have been trying to do better in school. What have you found that helps you? ... Appropriate wait-time ... What can I do to help you to continue to improve?"
Support is both positive and includes high expectations.
- By working together we can either think of strategies to help you achieve your goals or we will find someone else that can.;
- "If you keep trying, you're going to find something that works for you."
Support focuses on success. Focus on what is done. The words, paragraphs, or pages written and the problems completed or progress made toward a solution.
Some people believe that an intervention with work-inhibited students should include recording what they have completed and rewarding their efforts to do work. Others believe that rewarding is counter productive by sending a message that you do not expect the student to be able to complete the assignments without being bribed.
A common concern is: Is it fair to have students do different amounts of work? Will other students write paragraph after paragraph and turn in all of their work, while a particular student completes very little and gets extra attention for doing a limited amount? A competent student is not likely to be discouraged because the teacher gives more help to those who need it and historically good students have not stopped their learning, because other students have stopped. Students who put forth a lot of effort grow in their own knowledge, skills, self-confidence, and ability to persist. They are rewarded and encouraged to continue their efforts when they see value in what they are doing.
Work-inhibited students are igenerally fearful of putting forth effort for fear of risking making mistakes. They need private personal encouragement to begin work, to give effort, and persist. When they are successful they will see value in what they are doing and more importantly believe in their self-efficacy.
Support is incremental and takes one day at a time.
Support is for taking baby steps, focusing on successes, breaking assignments into smaller pieces, giving assignments that can be completed and encouraged every step of the way to success.
Most work-inhibited students work with help as it reduces the likelihood of failure or if there is failure, they are not alone. Therefore, cooperative learning can be used if there is a plan for individual accountability and a long term goal of independence.
Good cooperative learning models work to educate students on how to help each other to be successful as a group and independently.
- Cooperative Groups
- Cross-Age Tutoring
- Adult Volunteers
- Emphasize what the student has to do for the day and what might be accomplished.
- Practice simple organizational skills and let them feel good as they check off completed assignments from their lists.
- Never use threats. Instead, focus on staying the course, keeping at it and not quitting.
- Always convey a positive attitude. "It's okay, you'll get it tomorrow." "You're going to be okay."
Procedures for successful interventions:
- The teacher must communicate with or acknowledge the student every few minutes.
- Students must understand the intervention and desire to try it.
- You must not be demanding or negative. Must nurture, encourage, and support students' efforts, even when those efforts are almost negligible.
- Reward, with positive attention, the action or product not the person
- Comment specifically on what the student accomplished. Use positive statements
- Be confident. Worry is the problem. You are naturally concerned about the future consequences of not doing schoolwork. However, act as if they are successful. Think of the way successful students are treated. They are not reminded that their work is due. Or that if they don't work hard they won't be successful. Instead, encouragement and a low keyed assurance is communicated that builds confidence and communicates expectations of success.
- Continually say things like: "Don't worry, You will get it." "you're going to be successful." "You're okay, just hang in there."We learn from our mistakes."
- Give very few reminders and when you do make them very low keyed and no lectures.
- Bob and nod messages of encouragement, trust, and positive expectations of success.
- Provide ways to increase their weak egos. Find ways to empower them to make their own decisions, take care of themselves, and to have influence on others.
Ideas to assist the development of responsibility:
- assign to safety patrols
- clean the blackboard
- special titles or other recognition
- aides to the secretarial staff
- help in lab, shop, and the library
- assist in the maintenance of playing fields and equipment. This idea has been found that students could be counted on and trusted with keys and expensive equipment.
- Involve them in decision making. Ask: "What do you think?" or "What do you want to do?"
- Let them know it is okay to make mistakes. Some mistakes can be beneficial. Model how you make and deal with mistakes.
- Set clear guidelines.
- Evaluate more than completed work. It is important that evaluation include the steps taken toward completion of a task even if the task isn't completed.
Practices to Avoid:
- Requiring a child to repeat a grade for failure to complete assignments
- Restricting a student form participating in one activity for failure to do another
- Persistently keeping a child in from recess for not doing assignments
- Blaming parents for the child's ineffectiveness.
Always Try To Strengthen Family Relationships.
- Acknowledge parents' contributions. "I know you are concerned about Chris and have tried to help."
- Do not demand parents do something to make their child complete the work.
- Request parents to meet with teachers and guidance counselors, school psychologists, and others to design plans for school and home.
- It is crucial to show expressions of caring just because they are our children. "I will care for you, whatever happens." Demonstrate this through acceptance, listening. and playing with students at appropriate times.
- Communicate simply, clearly and consistently what is expected.
- Give similar messages to all children.
- Have few rules, say no when needed, and communicate what is expected.
- Issues that are not negotiable do not require debate. Say no.
- Since most behavior is neither harmful nor dangerous ignore it.
- If the behavior is inappropriate, remove the child from the classroom and return as soon as the child agrees to try to cooperate.
- Making amends is a natural consequence. Apologizing after everyone has cooled down from a negative incident is natural, if it is not forced.
- Fair and occasional use of restriction may be helpful to a child who engaged in a flagrant or deliberate harmful or dangerous behavior or crossed agreed upon behavioral boundaries.
- Don't threaten or use corporeal punishment.
Remember the goal is autonomy and independence.
- Adults with little self-confidence often believe children will not be safe or will fail without their supervision.
- Autonomy is created by not asking a lot of questions or not giving numerous reminders.
- Independence is freedom to be on our own. Unless
a person has reached an impasse or safety is an issue, then say nothing.
If something must be said, communicate your confidence in the person with a positive statement.
- Enjoy finding what objects sink and float.
- Have a good time.
- Where the Sidewalk Ends is a good book! Enjoy
Encourage children to play games and learn for the child's own satisfaction.
- Take delight in new adventures and support those who
engage in adventures with confidence and joy. Send them off with hugs and
smiles and words such as:
- Take a chance.
- Give it a try.
- You can handle it.
- Have a good trip.
- Enjoy your new school.
- Meet interesting people.
- I know you will find your way, but if you need help, call me.
- Allow children to make mistakes.
- Encourage household chores.
- Thanks, I appreciate the help.
- Don't you love the smell of freshly mowed grass? Stand here and look how nice the lawn looks. Wow!
- Look at that clean floor shine.
- Teachers and parents can't make children learn, but they can provide a place and atmosphere that is conducive to think and learn, establish basic rules, encourage, and offer assistance. Communicate gently and clearly that homework is their responsibility, but if they need you, you are there to help.
- Communication should be provided to help students gain insight into what inhibits their ability to begin and persist until a task is complete.
- Children are more likely to learn when they are relaxed and free of risk. A risk-free environment is created by looking at errors as opportunities and providing enough support and encouragement so that students belief they are competent enough to be successful.
- Communicate with
the student about the tasks they typically do not complete. Express concerned
about their progress and your belief that they desire to be successful.
Explain that you would be willing to try to help, if they would like. Suggest
that they start the a task and ask them to talk out loud about the thoughts
that come to their mind. Maybe about solving the problem or whatever else
goes through their mind. Encouraged them to say what they are feeling and
listen. Do not deny whatever feelings the child expresses. You may need
to role play an example of self-talk for a task that you have difficulty
doing. Describe why it is difficult and how you convince yourself to successfully
do the task. This idea has been know to break the ice and help students
to communicate better. Eventually, they may begin to understand their own feelings, and
why they behave as they do. However, there may times when you may want to
- You think it's not okay to make a mistake.
- You get nervous when someone yells.
- It looks as tough you are confused.
- You're smiling.
- Play is important. Through play, you can enhance a relationship and provide an opportunity for students to express themselves. You might draw, play a card game, build a model, play a board game, or talk. Let the student lead you and participate as the situation unfolds.
- Play activities give opportunities to teach social interactions, interpretation of other's actions and how their own interactions affect others.
- Work-inhibited students believe they will not fail themselves or others, if they just don't act. However, such behavior is self-limiting.
- As students accept their feelings and desire to be successful you can reassure them and help them find the emotional strength to persist. Over time, it is likely s/he will discover a greater sense of competence, a feeling of success, acceptance, and eventually self-efficacy.
- One last, and very important point is to convince parents, and others as well, that it is not beneficial to make schoolwork a focus of relationships.