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A Daily Dose of Optimism

A few years ago, we set out to answer the question, “What makes students quit?” Our research pointed us towards optimism and the impact that it has on reducing Quit Points. If educators provide a daily dose of optimism, they can begin to reduce the frequency and impact of quitting behaviors. In order to provide these opportunities, we offer three quick strategies to implement in the classroom.

The first strategy is designing lessons to include early victories. Everyone likes being good at something. Unfortunately, way too many students enter the classroom feeling little hope of success. Whether it’s early in the school year or early in a daily lesson, a task that is designed to provide a quick “win” can help a student feel optimistic about learning again. Reducing a student’s likelihood of quitting on a daily lesson, or even throughout an entire unit, can have tremendous impact on the level of learning they are able to achieve. Scaffold from previous learning or use peer collaboration to ensure every student can start their learning on a positive note.

Another strategy is to focus on practice. High stakes testing and grading don’t encourage students to take academic risks or think creatively because there’s more to lose than gain under that paradigm. However, if the emphasis of daily learning is practice, mistakes are considered part of the process and students are rewarded for the effort. Encourage students to start focusing on growth rather than grades, and they become less likely to quit and more focused on of their individual effort in learning.

A final strategy for providing daily optimism is to empower students. We all need to feel that our decisions and actions have an impact on outcomes. If they didn’t there would be no reason to ever try. Students are particularly susceptible to this idea. When they believe their effort impacts learning, they are less likely to quit. Providing opportunities for students to make their own learning decisions and reflect on the impact help to reinforce their role in the learning process.

A daily dose of optimism can go a long way in reducing student Quit Points and increasing opportunities for authentic learning!

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