How to Study Overwhelming PowerPoints

Do your teachers and professors primarily use PowerPoint during their lectures? Do you find yourself overwhelmed when it’s time to study, because you have 60 or 70 slides to review for each test?

Lately, I’ve had a number of folks working with graduate school students come through my training program (The Art of Inspiring Students to Study Strategically), and they’ve been asking me to give some more concrete ideas for how these students can work with the massive amounts of information that they are exposed to each week.

In this video, I suggest that students work on making one-page sheet sheets for each power point deck, and I provide four different options for how to do that:

Heads up that next week I’ll be sharing a video about what kinds of supplies to buy and have at home that will help you create these cheat sheets in an anti-boring way! Stay tuned for that.

Don’t Freak Out Over Finals

It’s finals time for many students around the country and world! Are you freaking out?

Self care during this stressful time is super important, and recently I ran across this awesome resource. It’s an infographic for how to take care of yourself during finals. You can go to the inforgraphic directly by clicking here. Or… check out this video where I walk you through it, and make some commentary about some of the suggestions.

What are your favorite ways to take care of yourself during stressful times?

229: Answers to Your Questions About the SAT and Advanced Placement

Questions! Questions! We love questions!

Below are two questions about the SAT and Advanced Placement tests that we got recently from two moms:

(1) “I just heard someone talking about their 2nd child who took a gap year and delayed taking the SAT until after high school. For kids who just aren’t ready for college or who haven’t progressed to Pre-Calc by their junior or senior year, is there a benefit, or even an option, of taking the tests later?”

(2) “A fellow mom and I have been having a long conversation about what colleges can and can’t see from your college testing record. This includes your SAT scores, your SAT subject test scores, your AP scores. […] My question is – can you still list [a course] as an AP course, but not report your testing score (say you do great in the class, but not so great on the test or does that look like your school is weak?) Or do you only report the class as an AP course if you have a score that is worthy of reporting? Otherwise would you simply call it Honors?”

Click here to listen in for Megan’s answers!

227: Debunking Misinformation about the ACT’s Science Exam

Are you buying into some faulty information about ACT science?

Megan walks you through what this section of the standardized test is really about — and believe it or not! — it’s not science. Go figure.

Specifically, we discuss:

(1) What the ACT science portion actually tests, if it’s not your knowledge about science, and

(2) What your score on this section of the test does (and doesn’t) tell you about your aptitude for studying science in college and working in science related careers.

Listen in as Megan walks you through what this section of the standardized test is really about!

209: How to Study When Given Essay Questions in Advance

Do your teachers ever give you the essay questions far in advance of the chapter test or final?

Many students don’t take advantage of this key resource.

Gretchen walks you through a few ways to use these advance questions to your advantage, including how to:

  • Identify which questions can be answered by reading which chapters and/or sections
  • “Chart” essay questions so you understand a) what information you are supposed to learn and b) what kind of thinking you’re being asked to practice
  • Give yourself a map of the chapter using the essay questions as a guide
  • Take notes using the essay question as a guide.
  • Run your charts and notes by your teacher as a way to “assess” your understanding before chapter tests and quizzes, and
  • Use your charts and notes to study for the actual exam

Listen in as Gretchen walks you through a few ways to use these advance questions to your advantage!

An Antidote to Silly Mistakes on Math Tests

Do you ever make stupid mistakes on your math tests because you’re hurrying too much?

I have a client who was consistently scoring a letter grade lower every test because of silly mistakes. My solution for him? Check out the video for details about what it means to “study “in the manner of the test” and how we apply this idea to math tests to simulate the time deadline, and eradicate silly mistakes.

Check out the video here:

 

Don’t have time to watch the video? This picture pretty much sums it up:

 

 

If you study in the manner of a test. Meaning, the three things listed above. First you need to set a time limit so that you can get in the practice of having a set amount of time. Then, you need to focus on all the things you did in past tests that caused you to get the answers wrong. After your done count your mistakes. Do this a few times a week to get in some good practice for an upcoming test.

If your here to get tips to help students and are thinking about growing your own business as an academic coach – Try my FREE 10 day course.

 

A Small Study Tweak That Saves You Time Later

Are you (or a student you love) naturally good at taking tests? Do you have to do minimal, or no, studying for your chapter tests… but then suddenly discover you’re not ready for final exams?

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?! The info got into your short term memory enough for the chapter test, but then disappeared by the time finals rolled around.

A client of mine discovered he was in this situation related to his Spanish final exam. In this video, I tell you more details about how I worked with this client over the course of the semester, knowing full well that he might have a harder time come final exams, but wanting him to see it for himself.

My patience paid off, and now he is motivated to do a new study tweak this upcoming semester that is going to save him time NEXT time finals roll around.

Check out the video for the whole story:

Don’t have time for the full video? No worries, here’s a short synopsis:

In this video we learn that even if you do not have to study each test during the year you may need it in the end when it comes final exam time. The best way to overcome this in the future would be to create a quizzable study chart after each chapter for the review for your final exam!

If you are a teacher, tutor, or academic coach, or perhaps even a parent, interesting in learning more about not only tiny habits but about how to help your students become independent learners and test-taking powerhouses, please consider checking out my course Should I Grow My Biz As An Academic Coach?

The art of inspiring students | how to trick struggling learners into studying harder, learning more, and raising grades | ebook | gretchen wegner | the study cycle

Final Exams Are Almost Here. Do Your Students Know How to Study?

As an academic coach, I’ve spent thousands of hours talking to stressed out and/or unmotivated students (many of whom contact me right before final exams, totally freaked out!) and one pattern has emerged that is striking —

Students don’t know how to study. Everyone TELLS them to study, schools and parents EXPECT them to study, but no one has actually taught them how.

“But that’s not true!” you might be thinking. “I tell my students exactly how to study for my tests. I give them study guides, quizlet sets and teach fun Mnemonics! We play Jeopardy before final exams! We review ad nauseum in class. Why isn’t that enough?!” If you’re a tutor or coach, you might be thinking, “I even study right along with them! What do you mean they don’t know how to study?!”

I don’t doubt this is true. Many educators ARE giving students a zillion resources to help them study. As I’ve coached your students, I’ve seen into your classrooms, I’ve read your study guides and I’m aware how many of you are putting in a sincere, thoughtful effort into providing excellent, scaffolded curriculum and support.

However — and this is what I’ve discovered as I’ve coached hundreds of stressed out teenagers:

The way YOU talk to your students about their own learning may be backfiring.

That was true for me, at least, for the years that I was a classroom teacher. Once I became an academic life coach, I discovered that I needed to unlearn a NUMBER of bad habits I’d acquired about how to talk to students about learning and studying.

My bad habits as a teacher and new coach backfired. Although my actions were intended to help students become more engaged, proactive learners — instead they created the opposite.

Students became dependent on my creativity and my expert curriculum development skills to do any learning.

Now that I am unlearning these bad teaching habits,  I’m watching my students transform their learning, their stress level and raise their grades in unprecedented numbers. If I can do this as a coach, you can do this too.

In the rest of this article, I’ll introduce you to:

Here are the top four bad habits that I discovered in myself and have observed in other educators:

  1. We overuse the word “study,” assuming it communicates something of value to our students.
  2. We teach specific strategies (like flashcards) that worked for us when we were students.
  3. We focus on “learning styles” as the way to discover how to study effectively.
  4. We break learning down for students into bite-size, motivating chunks and provide clear instructions for students.

Well hold up, you might be thinking! Aren’t these the tenets of good, progressive education? How can they possibly be bad teaching and tutoring habits?

I feel your pain. I was surprised, too, to discover that certain “facts” of good teaching in which I’d been trained sometimes do more harm than good. Why might that be?

Let’s take a closer look at each of these bad habits that are plaguing well-meaning teachers, tutors, and academic coaches:

Bad Habit #1 – Educators overuse the word “study.”

Imagine the following scene:

It’s Wednesday, 4th-period chemistry. The teacher writes on the board, “Study for test on Friday.” Students make a mental note, “Ok, I better study for that test”; some even write “study” into their planners. Parents, coaches and tutors see the word “study” in the planner and follow up by asking, “Have you studied for the test yet?” The student responds somewhat impatiently, responds, “Yes! Yes! I’m studying.”

Think about it: How many times was the word “study” used? Was anything of value about the learning process communicated in these brief interactions?

I’d argue NO! This entire conversation about studying is largely meaningless. How do students decide what they need to DO to study?! How will they know when they’ve been successful studying, and are ready to take the test?

Because students aren’t actually taught the theory behind effective study and the strategies associated with that theory, they often go home and do one of two things:

  1. They try to “study” the best way they know how, often by rereading the textbook and reviewing and highlighting notes. Some make flashcards, though this technique is often a time-waster too (more on that later). Or…
  2. They simply don’t study, either because the actions I’ve described above are unmotivating and uninspiring or because they don’t believe they need to study.

When test grades are published, student’s spirits are dashed. “But I studied!” they say. “How come I got such a bad grade?” The answer is — because they studied in ways that felt effective but are are not actually effective.

As an academic life coach, I am on a mission to banish the words “study” and “review” from the English language. Ok. I know. That’s pretty impossible. But what if educators, parents, and students used it a lot less? How would you talk about test preparation with students if you weren’t allowed to use either the word “study” or the word “review”?!  Too often the use of these words allows us to live under the illusion that we are communicating something of value about the learning process when truthfully we are not.

What should teachers, tutors, and academic coaches do instead?

  • Quick Tip: Start noticing when you use the word “study” and what you are actually trying to communicate. Play around with banishing the word “study” from your vocabulary for a day or two. What might you say instead?   You might even include your students in this game! See how this experiment forces you to talk about learning in new ways.
  • Advanced Tip: Want to know the 3 words that I use with my clients instead of the word “study”? Watch the FREE demonstration video that’s embedded here. You might even print out the graphic of the 3-step Study Cycle that I provide in my e-book, post it somewhere visible, and practice using those words with your students instead.

So, what’s the next blind spot I’ve noticed in educators (and of which I was also guilty)?

Bad Habit #2 – Educators teach specific strategies (like flashcards) that worked for us when we were students.

I’m guessing you are one of the many thoughtful teachers, coaches, and tutors who DO teach specific strategies for studying. Perhaps you suggest flashcards or provide mnemonics to help students memorize complex information. Maybe you hand out a study guide with suggestions for how to use it. Some teachers (I was one of these!) even build studying for a test into the curriculum, guiding students through the steps they need to prepare.

Yes! This is all good pedagogy!

Here’s the problem:

First, usually, we pick the strategies that worked well for us when we were students. But not all learners are going to rock the information just because they’re studying it in a way that worked for you.

Also, well-meaning educators often suggest strategies without explaining WHY these strategies tend to work. We assume that the strategy in and of itself is what will help the student study. But even the BEST strategies can fail if implemented in ways that ignore how the brain is built to learn. I know so many students who are bored to death by flashcards, but who use them anyway because they’ve been taught it is a successful learning strategy.

Many educators themselves don’t truly understand how learning happens in the brain. I sure didn’t, before I became an academic life coach. In our teacher education programs, we are taught strategies for engaging students, but we aren’t taught how this fits into a brain-based model for how learning happens.

When we teach strategies without teaching the underlying theory about why that strategy might work, we are creating kids’ dependence on the specific strategies. We are teaching them that the way to study is to throw a random strategy at the problem and hope you learn the information.

What should teachers, tutors, and academic coaches do instead?

  • Quick Tip: When you hand students a new assignment, ask students to look it over and reflect: “What is the purpose of this activity? What am I supposed to learn?” and then “How does the design of this lesson help me learn this objective?”  The goal here is to help them start to distinguish between learning objectives and the strategies used to achieve that objective.
  • Advanced Tip: Teach students the 3-Step Study Cycle. Once they understand each of the three steps, have them reflect about which step of the cycle they are in for each kind of assignment you offer. This tip might not make much sense now, but it will make more sense after you read the description of the 3-Step Study Cycle and watch the demo that I provide, both of which are available here for free.

Bad Habit #3 – We focus on “learning styles” as the way to discover how to study and learn effectively.

Many educators — myself included! — have espoused learning styles as an important factor in increasing student motivation and performance.

When I was a classroom teacher, I had students take learning inventories, and then I would use the results of this inventory to help individualize student learning. For example, I’d have students who tested as “visual learners” do history projects that were primarily visual; students who tested as “logical” thinkers could write an essay or create a chart filled with information.

When I was trained as an academic coach, I was taught to use these same inventories with my clients, and then apply the results to help the students maximize their learning.

In the last few years, however, I’ve stopped giving these inventories. I DO still believe that every person learns differently and that it is important for students to understand — and advocate for! — learning methods that reveal their strengths.

However, I’ve noticed that too much of an emphasis on learning styles makes students less inclined to learn in ways that are *not* their learning preferences. In recent years, brain science has backed up my observations, stating that the most effective learning strategies use all parts of the brain, regardless of whether the students has a specific preference for that strategy.

What should we teach instead?   

  • Quick Tip: Teach students that the brain needs to learn information in a multitude of different ways. If one method doesn’t seem to be helping them learn, then students should be flexible enough to choose a different learning strategy, even if it’s NOT their preference or dominant learning style.
  • Advanced Tip: So that students understand the brain-based reasons why variety is important in learning, teach them the 3 Step Study Cycle (it only takes 5-minutes to teach, as you’ll see in the demo inside this ebook). Then brainstorm with them multiple strategies for studying the same content when they are on their own, using the Study Cycle as a guide.

Bad Habit #4 – We break learning down for students into bite-size chunks.

When I did my teacher training, I learned of the importance of breaking tasks down for students to help them be successful. I mastered the art of creating engaging, complex curricula for students, as well as how to break it into discrete, doable parts with clear instructions so that students wouldn’t get lost in all the details.

This is an important teaching skill! I don’t knock it, and I hope you continue to do it!

However, a side effect of this kind of teacher-intensive curricula is that it can accidentally foster dependence rather than independence in students.

Students depend on the instructions. They wait to be told what to do, for the adults to initiate action.

I can’t tell you how many of my clients have answered my question, “Why didn’t you take notes in class today?” with the, “My teacher didn’t tell me to.” Argh! I stifle my frustration at this answer with, “Your teacher shouldn’t have to tell you to take notes!! You should know what’s good for your own learning, and be able to take initiative on your own!”

The side effect of our willingness as educators to break learning into digestible parts is that the teens themselves don’t have to learn to do this for themselves. They’re off the hook and don’t need to understand how successful learning happens for them. Instead, they mindlessly follow (or resist) the teacher’s instructions, a habit that is not conducive to lifelong learning.

Even tutors foster passivity and dependence in students. I’ve had several students who’ve told me, “Oh, I don’t need to study for the Spanish test by myself; I’ll just do it with my tutor.”

When students rely on their tutors and teachers to guide their study process, they are abdicating responsibility for their own learning. So what should teachers and tutors do instead?

Here’s a quick tip you can apply immediately:

  • Quick Tip: After you teach a lesson, ask students to reflect on what they just learned and how they learned it. Ask them to notice the ultimate learning objective, and how you structured the learning to help them get there. Invite them to remember that when they are studying at home, they are in charge of designing their own learning process.*
  • Truly Highly Advanced Tip: Check out my list of 7 types of struggling students, including each student’s “study blind spot” and “study solution.” This will help you hone how you work with specific types of students to help them study more strategically, including which step of the Study Cycle each kind of student needs more practice with.

*You may notice that this tip is very similar to the one I made for Bad Habit #2. This is purposeful! It is helpful to ask students to seek out the learning objectives both (1) before they complete a worksheet or assignment and (2) after they have engaged in a learning activity. The more often you have them reflect about what kinds of learning strategies help them achieve what kinds of learning, the more self-sufficient they will become at being able to structure their own learning when they are at home studying.

Is It Really This Simple to Help Students Break Through Passivity and Become Strategic Learners?

Yes! In my experience, most students are eager to learn how to become more effective learners. However, adults make it seem so complex! When they are introduced to a simple, easy-to-understand model for how to learn strategically, they rise to the occasion.

That’s why I’m such a fan of the 3-Step Study Cycle. I teach it to all my clients now, and I’m watching them become creative, engaged, skillful learners as a result. In fact, just a week ago a college freshman who’d been getting C’s and D’s on most of his tests this semester, came to his session with his eyes beaming. Here’s a summary of our conversation:

Student: Guess what?! I got an A on the test!!!!!!!

Me: OMG! Seriously?! Wow!!! How’d you manage that?!

Student: I followed the study cycle. And I worked really hard to hone my notes*.  In the past, I could usually narrow the multiple choice answers down to two that seemed similar, but I never knew what the right answer was. This time I totally knew! It was clear to me because I’d taken the time to encode the stuff I didn’t know in new ways*.

I’m so proud of this young man for working so hard to understand how to study strategically and raise his grades. He clearly worked hard! In that respect, it’s not simple to become a strategic learner; it involves hard work!

However, it is simple to teach students how to study strategically. And in my experience, it all starts with a 5-minute conversation that I fondly call the 3-Step Study Cycle. I’m such a believer in this process I’ve discovered that I wrote up an instruction manual for how to teach it to students, and I’m giving it away for FREE:

Click here to download your FREE copy of The Art of Inspiring Students: How to “Trick” Struggling Learners Into Studying Harder, Learning More, and Raising Grades.

In this short instruction manual, you’ll receive:

  • suggestions for how to talk to students about the difference between homework and studying
  • an overview of the 3-Step Study Cycle, a brain-based model for effective and efficient learning
  • a video demonstration of how I teach the Study Cycle to students
  • 5 different sets of learning tools that help students apply The Study Cycle more effectively
  • the 7 types of struggling learners, and which study tools work best for which learners

Phew! That was a lot to take in! If you have questions or observations for me about any of these bad habits, please feel free to post below. I look forward to engaging with you.

College Prep Podcast #158: 5 Secrets to Taking Multiple Choice Tests Well

Megan Dorsey, College Prep Podcast, 5 Secrets to Taking Multiple Choice Tests Well, test taking, adviceToo many students struggle with multiple choice tests.

Often, this difficulty is not that they don’t know the material but rather because they haven’t learned how to take those tests well.

Listen in as Megan provides her top five tips so you stop losing points on tests. Specifically, she discusses habits for how to:

  • pay attention to the design of the test
  • make sure you’re reading the details in both questions and answers
  • change your focus from finding the right answer to eliminating the wrong answer
  • troubleshoot when you can’t actually write on the exam
  • compare choices once you’ve narrowed them down,
  • “work backward” to choose the correct answer, and
  • discern what test-taking advice is ineffective and should be ignored

Listen in to Megan and Gretchen as they discuss how to Rock College and be a successful college student!

How to Feel More Confident As a Student

Are you the kind of student who does OK at school? Parents and teachers sometimes nudge you, telling you that you’re not quite living up to your potential because your grades could be even higher than the B’s they are now?

I have a client like that who was tired of feeling that he could probably perform even better at school if he were only more motivated. We worked together for a quick eight sessions — and then he took his final exams. Voila! What he told me amazed me, and shows that just a few skills can make some major changes in a student’s self-esteem. Watch the video, where I tell you the full story of this client and what he discovered.

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? Don’t worry I’ve got your back, here’s a summary:

I’ve been trying a little experiment that I want to tell you all about. I have a few clients who may have a learning disability of some sort but are extremely high functioning. They average decent grades, typically B’s but A’s as well sometimes. The reason they come to me, especially the client I am focusing on in this video, is that he and his family felt that he wasn’t living up to his potential in school. He said that he didn’t feel motivated to put in a lot of effort and that he felt he could be more motivated, but he wasn’t sure how to get there. So what him, his family, and I decided to do was to run him through The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying in only eight sessions, just to get him setup with the time management, organization, and studying skills he needed to be able to really give school his all.

At the time I recorded this video I’d just heard back from him, and for reference, he’s a junior in high school, about his final exams. Now in the past, he’s always just coasted through school, as we talked about above, and that included his exams. However, exams have always caused him anxiety as he’s felt he should be doing more but wasn’t sure exactly what to be doing to prepare for them, and lacking the motivation to do anything. This year, on the contrary, he said he went in feeling like he was ready and that he knew what he was doing. His confidence was a LOT higher this year around, now that he had the skills he needed to really put forth his best effort. And while his grades have only had minor improvements from the short time we’ve worked together, he told me,

Gretchen Wegner, The Anti-Boring Approach To Powerful Studying, How to Feel More Confident As a Student, Studying, Time Management, Confidence, Self-Esteem, Tools,

And that’s the important thing here. His confidence and self-esteem as a student have skyrocketed. With just a few short sessions and a handful of tools and skills he’s gone from “doing okay but having low self-esteem” to “doing okay with high self-esteem.” That’s what we, as teachers and parents, want for the children we love, to see them feel good about the hard work they put in.

So if you want to access these tools and skills for yourself, click here, and see how they might be able to change your life.

How to Avoid Illusions of Knowing

When you study, do you often FEEL as if you’re ready to take the test? You re-read the notes or chapter and think, “I got this!” Only to discover that actually — you didn’t know it as well as you thought?

Recently a client of mine had a similar issue, and so we made a study plan that helped him avoid what some authors call “illusions of knowing.”

Check out what we discussed here!

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? Don’t worry I’ve got your back, here’s a summary:

The other day I had a fascinating session with a client. We were working on preparing for his finals, and we were talking about electron configurations and chemistry. To do this I was having him write everything he knows about electron configuration on his whiteboard, and then review with his textbook and notes what he got right/wrong and what he didn’t even know.

How to Avoid Illusions of Knowing | Gretchen Wegner | The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying | Reviewing | Studying | Test

Then he made a VERY insightful comment. He said, “Oh my gosh, I thought I knew it better than I actually knew it.” In turn, I asked him if he’d not studied the way we just did, would he have realized he didn’t know it that well, and he replied, “Oh no, I totally wouldn’t have. I would have been reading it [in the textbook] and been saying, oh yeah I totally know that.” And this is something that neuroscientists talk about, referred to as illusions of knowing.

How to Avoid Illusions of Knowing | Gretchen Wegner | The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying | Reviewing | Studying | Test

An illusion of knowing is when we think we know something, but we don’t actually know it. So it’s important that when you are studying, you create PROOF of what you know.

Avoiding illusions of knowing is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like practice and tons more tips on how to study effectively and efficiently, you can learn about that by clicking here.

 

College Prep Podcast #141: 5 Fears Students Have That Need to Be Acknowledged

Gretchen Wegner | Megan Dorsey | The College Prep Podcast | Fears | Students | Student | Success | Acknowledged | Homework | Tests | Teachers | Teacher |

Sometimes adults forget that being a student is an emotionally taxing job, that students have fears, and that students often need reassurance!

On today’s New Year’s episode we discuss the five ways that feelings get in the way of student success if they’re not acknowledged.

Each of today’s tips is inspired by a video from Gretchen’s YouTube channel. Tune in to get the low-down on each of these tips, or go directly to the videos that inspired them in the first place:

Click here to head over to the College Prep Podcast to listen to this episode.

College Prep Podcast #134: Easy Tips for Prepping for Finals Over the Holidays

Gretchen Wegner | Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying | Studying Tips | College | Finals | Holidays | Notes | Testing | Study Tools

This week on the College Prep Podcast with Gretchen Wegner and her co-host Megan Dorsey:

Thanksgiving is coming up soon, as are the winter holidays.

If you get started studying for finals now (or over the winter holidays, if your finals aren’t until the end of January), you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches later — plus, you’ll learn the information better! Today Gretchen shares:

  • How to put in more effort to studying without feeling like you’re working too hard
  • The importance of testing yourself using “spaced retrieval”, and a few simple ways to do this over the holidays
  • How to get yourself organized so you don’t waste time later finding important study tools
  • A crucial tip for how to use your notes so that you’re actually learning (rather than just faking it)
  • and more!

For more strategies about getting prepped for finals, check out Gretchen Wegner’s Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying.

Tune into the podcast by clicking here.

How Not to Freak Yourself Out

Have you ever freaked yourself out  —  by imagining the worst when you had no evidence that it would actually happen? Students do that all the time. Part of my job as an academic coach is to help students parse out the difference between fantasy and reality.

Meet Roger, a 7th-grader who freaked himself out last week.

Recently, as Roger walked through my office door, I heard the “ding ding ding” of my iPhone text message. It was an alert from his mom, asking me to please talk to her son about his resistance to getting an older student who can act as Roger’s “homework tutor”.

Roger is a bright — and incredibly hyperactive — young man. It takes him forever to get through his otherwise easy homework because he can’t focus on one task for very long without getting engrossed in off-topic curiosities. He needs someone to sit next to him to keep him on task during homework, but apparently Roger was not excited about that tutor being a high school student.

Throwing a ball to him (to distract him from the fact that I was about to get personal), I asked him why he didn’t want the tutor.

He threw the ball back: “I’m afraid I’ll try and act cool around him. I’ll worry he’ll judge me.”

“You don’t worry about that with grownups like me?” I asked.

“No, just with kids close to my own age.”

That reasoning made sense, and I took a moment to commiserate. But then I added, “Have you met this high school student yet?”

“No,” Roger admitted.

“Well then, how do you know that you are going feel judged and want to impress him? Is it possible that you’re basing your reasoning on a fantasy that might not be true?”

Roger couldn’t argue with this kind of logic. “Yes, it’s possible.”

“Would it be reasonable to meet this high school student first, and postpone your freak out?”

Grinning, Roger responded, “Yes, that would be reasonable.”

Silence descended, as we were suddenly engrossed in our game of catch.

Finally, I broke the silence. “Ummmmm…. when are we going to stop throwing the ball?”

“Maybe when we’ve made a firm decision,” Roger responded.

“How will we know we’ve made a firm decision?” I asked.

Roger threw down his arms, letting the ball drop to the floor.

“What’s the firm decision?” I asked.

“That I will meet the high school student first and see what he’s like.”

Excellent.

One of the reasons I love academic coaching is that kids very often respond to reason! They just need someone (who is not their parents) who is willing to speak reasonably.

The next week when I checked in with Roger, he reported that the two high school students his mom found were great, and he’s happy with his decision.

Let’s Break It Down: 5 Tips To Keep Yourself From Freaking Out

Are you freaking yourself out right now with a fantasy about something bad that *might* happen, although you have no proof? Try these steps:

  1. Take a deep breath. Notice you’re freaking out.
  2. See if you can identify what you are thinking that’s causing you to freak out.
  3. Notice whether that thought is true. If you’re not sure, look for the proof.
  4. If you have no proof that it is true, decide on an action that will give you more information.
  5. Choose to delay your freak out until you have more info.

I’m not telling you NOT to freakout. I’m just suggesting that you delay it a little by thinking about what might be more true in this moment. You might discover that reality is much kinder than you think.

What is something you are freaking yourself out about? Do you have any other strategies for keeping your cool? I’d love it if you shared in the comments!

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