Josh, a student at Lakota Middle School, was referred to Robert Daniel, our School Outreach Coordinator, for low motivation to do his school work. In the past he had fallen behind in math and language arts classes because he had a tendency to give up on assignments that he did not understand, rather than ask questions and seek out help. He was also less than willing to try out new kinds of academic tasks, for fear of failing. His attitude was that it would be better to not try, than to try only to then fail. As Josh fell further and further behind in school, his motivation to dig himself out of that hole was very low. In addition to this, Josh started the year with relatives living in his house that were causing him and his mom a great deal of stress at home, and he would often come to school bearing that stress.
When Robert first started working with Josh, they had a great deal of academic work to do. Robert enrolled him into his intensive tutoring program, and spent time re-teaching a number of concepts, including whole units of math and concepts for language arts and social studies. There was a lot to make up, but Robert knew that Josh had the capability to master it all with one-on-one help. Robert also worked to build up his academic confidence, and show him that he really was capable of being successful in the classroom.
Robert began weekly check-in meetings with Josh to help him to manage the stress that was coming from his home life. Robert wanted to equip Josh with stress management tools and strategies that could help him to recognize when his stress was on its way to boiling over, so that he could take the appropriate steps to calm himself down before it happened. These strategies also helped Josh to manage stress from school work and to be more productive.
Josh and Robert also spent structured time thinking about the future, and this helped Josh to get beyond his present moment stressors. They completed a high school and beyond plan, and charted out one possible trajectory for his future, which is to attend a four year university, and become a train engineer.
“Mr. Daniel’s Patience helped me feel like I could do my work, even when I didn’t understand it all the way”.
Josh grew tremendously this year in his academic skills as well as personally. In class he understands more concepts, and is less afraid to try new things and possibly fail, and less afraid to ask for help. When he does ask for help, he has the skills to specifically identify which parts of a problem or assignment he does not understand. At the beginning of the year, Josh would often say ‘I don’t get any of this!” and would not be able to identify specific points of confusion, which made it hard to help him without teaching the whole concept again from start to finish. Now he is able to drill down to specific difficulties and ask for the clarity that he needs.
Josh was so grateful for the academic help that Robert gave him that one day he brought in a bag of snacks because he wanted to make sure that Robert was able to help provide for other students’ needs through the snack program!
Having received individualized help improved Josh’s academic motivation. Now that he has seen success in classes that have caused him trouble in the past, he is more willing to put in effort, even when things may look difficult. Josh has stated that he is now motivated to do his very best in High School next year. Josh is also better able to handle his own stresses now, which is allowing him to feel better about his life and his future. He is able to think clearly about his own future and about what he wants it to look like without being mired in his present situations.