Many of us are on the steady ascent into a new school year. Plan books at the ready—we’re going to create some magic!
But some of our students coming in have been spellbound—by a Dark Arts spell: Learnicus Paralysis. Their peers, grades, and past experiences have cursed them to believe they’re stupid. They feel unworthy and unaccepted.
I’ve had many students over the years cursed with Learnicus Paralysis. Symptoms vary but I’m sure you’ll recognize them: too quiet, not participating, poor grades, little effort, or misdirection through misbehavior. Any one of these behaviors are clues.
One such student, Amy, looked depressed most of the first week of school. She barely spoke a word over the next few weeks.
I had had Amy’s sister in my classroom a few years before, and she was boisterous, excited, and engaged—she also happened to be brilliant. In her shadow, Amy had withered. She had Learnicus Paralysis. But day by day, the spell lifted. I worked my magic a little every day, sprinkling in antidote to the poison.
By November, the spell had been completely broken. I knew when I received this note—
“This year is different. She (Amy) has new confidence! Instead of coming home with tears about what she doesn’t understand and fear of asking questions in class, she comes home excited to tell me about assignments she has completed (most recently she is proud of a 10 page story she has written for you)! This is an overwhelming transformation that we have witnessed in her this year. We are not just pleased with a difference in her grades. Grades are far less important to us than knowing that she is adjusting well and learning. So, I have asked her several times what is different. She describes you as someone who makes learning fun. She says she isn’t afraid to ask questions anymore because you told her that mistakes are a part of learning. She also said that you don’t yell and get angry when kids make mistakes, and she was impressed and surprised that you quietly put a stop sign on a desk when kids are doing something wrong. With you she is not afraid of being embarrassed when she doesn’t understand a concept. She talked about how you pretend to be a 5th grader while you are teaching and that you make class fun. Amy trusts you to treat her fairly and with respect even when she is struggling with learning concepts, which I believe has reduced her anxiety and allowed her to take information in and learn more effectively.
“So, with tears in my eyes I sincerely THANK YOU! It only takes one special teacher to turn things around for a child who has been struggling. You are that special teacher for Amy. What you do matters and my husband and I are so GRATEFUL!”
I was humbled by the words of this parent because Amy overcame so many obstacles those first weeks of school. I have known so many students in the past like her—with her symptoms or others.
I’m sure you can list plenty students of yours who might not participate or pay attention with new learning, or just give up, act out, and say they’re “not smart.” Those are all only symptoms. You will have those students this year.
The truly magical thing is that you have the ability to create the same transformation Amy’s parents saw too.
My magic is repeatable with a basic recipe. Use it, and you will create a magnificent and beautiful TRANSFORMED classroom. As with any good recipe though, you must use the exact ingredients.
Learnicus Amazicus Recipe
- Sprinkle of Daily Patience
- Daily Dash of Respect
- Generous Amount of Accurate Grading
- 100% Helping of an Authentic Growth Mindset classroom
You can have your own secret sauce using a growth mindset everyday with this RESOURCE. But be forewarned: it’s hugely powerful. You’ll be changed and so will your students. Create that magic!