Over the last 30 years, I have encountered hundreds of parent/teacher interviews, and I am almost always asked the same question … ‘What can my son do to improve?’
I have always maintained that there is no silver bullet, but that there are some characteristics of successful students that are universal. They are, perhaps, not the characteristics that immediately spring to mind. Successful students are not always the brightest students.
The following advice can be used to help your son improve his learning:
- Firstly, successful students are organised, determined and they persevere. They have high frustration tolerance and they believe that they can succeed. They have what Professor Andrew Martin calls a “growth mindset”. That is, they do not believe their ability is fixed and that, with positive engagement and motivation, they can improve their performance.
- Successful students practise the skills required to do well. Academic success is no different to success in sport or music. If you want to do well, you have to do the work. I currently have a significant number of Year 12 students who have ‘bought into’ the idea that if they are to succeed in writing good essays in the HSC Advanced English examination, they need to write lots of practice essays. Unsurprisingly, they have found that their performance has improved. This is not homework. It is a recognition that to improve a skill, whether it is essay writing, algebra, conjugating Latin verbs or playing the violin, there must a commitment to practise.
- Seeking feedback is a common trait of successful students. It is of no value to practice a skill without getting expert advice about how to improve your work. To do well, there must be a conscious decision to engage with teachers and actively seek and accept feedback, and then act on it. Successful students understand that it is unlikely that any skill will be mastered the first time.
- Parents and caregivers must focus on the process. It is important to praise effort rather than achievement or ability. Dr Carol Dweck talks very persuasively about the importance of focusing on the behaviour (effort) which promotes a growth mindset, as opposed to praising intelligence, which she argues promotes a fixed mindset and leads to underperformance.
At Trinity Grammar School, we encourage and support open, consistent communication between parents and teachers. We all have your child’s best interests in mind.
To learn about how Trinity Grammar School knows what boys need to flourish, download our prospectus.