Ann Marie Dobosz is a psychotherapist and writer in San Francisco. Her book, The Perfectionism Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Reduce Anxiety and Get Things Done, was published last year by New Harbinger. She specializes in helping people who are really hard on themselves feel calm, happy, and “good enough.” She works with adults and adolescents who struggle with mental health issues that arise from perfectionism and self-criticism, including anxiety, depression, obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviors. You can find more about her at www.annmarietherapy.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
Hey there teens, do you feel like your parents are checking in on whether you’re doing your homework or not too often? Parents, do you feel like your teen isn’t getting their homework done – and are you checking in on them regularly?
As an Academic Life Coach, I meet with both my clients (who are often teenagers) weekly and also their parents for checkups. And so I have a client I just had a session with who is finishing up his freshman year in high school, and one of the things we were talking about this week is how often his parents should be checking in on him regarding his homework. This week’s video is for both you parents and teenagers out there, regarding parent’s checking in on their teen’s homework.
Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back with this summary:
As teenagers, and we’ve all be there, we start seeking our independence. It’s not unusual that when we hit our mid teens that we start wanting to fend for ourselves, and this includes academically. As I was saying, I have a client, who is just finishing up his freshman year in high school, and he feels that his parents are checking in on his homework way too much. Now, he has ADHD and a bit of a perfectionist, and therefore in his previous years he’s had a history of not getting homework turned in on time or at all. As a result, his parents would regularly check in with him regarding his homework to make sure he was getting it done, and in middle school, this worked great. However, now he’s pushing back against them, and he said something that I felt was very insightful.
“I don’t want my parents to be right. I don’t want them to think that I’m doing my homework because THEY told me to.” He wanted to be doing it because he knew he needed to for his future. And I can totally relate to this, and I’m sure a LOT of parents out there if you think back to your teenage years you’ll have a similar story to mine. I remember in high school I had an Algebra teacher who told me and reminded me regularly, that I could have an A in his class. My father, who is a mathematician, also was convinced I could have an A, and so they both regularly were checking in on me and pushing me to get an A in that class. As a result, I pushed back, and decided, “No, that’s their goal, I don’t care, and I’m not going to get an A.” Sure enough, I got a B in that class. Similarly, my client says that most of the time when his parents check in on him he’s already doing his homework, but because they check in with him, that makes him feel stubborn and he will often STOP doing his homework because of it.
There comes a time when teenagers want to start feeling more independent, and we as parents and guardians need to let them accept the consequences of their actions so that they can learn from it. Now, of course, this advice isn’t applicable to all families, as I don’t know the specifics of your situation and your parent/child dynamics; however, I did think this was a theme worth sharing – that sometimes when we as a family check in too often on our teenagers we are getting in the way of them experiencing their own independence.
If you’re a teacher, do you struggle to help your students grasp what you’re teaching and raise their grades?
I have a request for you that could greatly help the students that are struggling in your class but are trying to do better. In fact, it’s one of the keys for students to be able to study effectively.
Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back with this summary:
This week’s video is for you teachers out there. I just got finished with a client, a sophomore in high school, who has a test coming up next week (at the time of recording it’s Wednesday). She got a “D” on her last test, which was on photosynthesis, and this upcoming test is on cellular respiration. Anyways, in order for us to come up with a better study plan since her last one didn’t work, we’ve been waiting on one key ingredient. We knew she got a “D” on her last test about two weeks ago; however, she didn’t get the test back until this week, and it was effectively blank.
To come up with a better study plan we were planning to use her old test, to see what she got right and what she got wrong, and determine a new method of studying based on the types or questions and information she got wrong. The problem is, even though she finally got her test back, she still doesn’t have any of the correct answers. The test had no markups, as her teacher grades the tests on the computer. So while we have the test, we have no way to figure out for sure what she got right and what she got wrong, so we can’t use that key information to determine a better method of studying for her.
So my request for you teachers out there is twofold. 1. Give your students back their tests a couple of weeks before the next test. And 2. Make sure they have the correct answers to those tests. This might be a challenging request for some; however, it will greatly help your students succeed in your class.
If you have any questions about this, or these requests seem impossible in your context, or you don’t understand why this is so important, PLEASE email me at Gretchen@GretchenWegner.com. I would love to converse with you to help you help students be better studiers so that they aren’t just making better grades in your class, but are actually learning what your are teaching.
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,
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.
Hey Y’all, I’ve got a very special video for you today. I strongly believe that every student, teacher, and parent out there should memorize what I call The Study Cycle. It needs to be a part of the daily language in classrooms and households. Normally I keep this video locked up in my paid online courses, but today I’m releasing it for you to watch for FREE!
Check out the video here. And then — if you’re a teacher, tutor, school administrator or academic coach, please considering joining me for my upcoming course The Art of Inspiring students to Study Strategically. We start on February 27th. You will learn everything you need to know to ensure that students have the tools they need to rock their learning with or without you!
Hey there, while I HIGHLY recommend watching this particular video in full, here is a summary:
The Study Cycle is composed of 3 steps and is the most effective, efficient, and anti-boring method I know for studying. So before we begin going over the steps, I have a little image here, which we will be referencing.
We start with the basket of knowledge and skills at the bottom of the image, this is what we need to learn, and we need to get this into your beautiful brain at the top. So step 1 is encoding the information from the basket into our brains. In this step, we are getting the information into our brains, whether we are teaching it to ourselves or it’s being taught to us.
Step 2 of The Study Cycle, which the majority of students skip, is practice retrieval. This is the process of getting the information out of our brains and assessing what we actually learned. By doing this, we get two very important pieces of information. The first is what we do know, what we actually did learn in step 1. The second is what we didn’t encode in step 1. What we didn’t learn, or encode, we put back into the basket of knowledge.
Then we have step 3. Step 3 is one of the least practiced steps, but just as important or more important than the other 2. Step 3 is to encode the information we assessed we didn’t learn in step 2 in a NEW way. The important thing is NOT just to try to re-encode it the same way you did in Step 1, but to encode the information in a new way.
Recently a young woman about to graduate from college called me desperate:
“I’m such a mess! I’ve almost failed out of school several times! I’m thankfully about to graduate, but now I’m scared that I’m too much of a disaster organizationally to live in the real world.”
I told her one sentence — the sentence that I tell all my new clients — and I could just hear the relief in her voice. EVERYONE needs to hear these words of reassurance, but especially students who struggle with learning differences.
Don’t have time for the full video? No worries, here’s a short summary:
I was thinking about a new client that’s about to come on who I was chatting on the phone with the other day, and she’s in her early 20’s and just now catching up to the idea that her executive functioning issues, ADD, disorganization, and time management issues are something she needs to get a handle on as she’s trying preparing to graduate from college and prepare for her future.
And I told her 2 little sentences that I could just hear the relief flow through her. I told her:
So many young people, and probably older people as well, feel when they are struggling that they are the only ones and think things like: “If only I wasn’t so messed up, my life would be so much better!”, “Everybody probably thinks I’m weird or crazy cause I struggle with …” etc. And to you, I say, “You are not weird or messed up! You just need to learn to a few different habits and skills and practice them.”
Want more motivational to do better in school the anti-boring way? Check this out.
Do you have a learning difference that impacts your experience of school?
How do you feel about telling your teachers and professors about it?
Many of my clients resist telling their professors because it’s such a vulnerable thing to admit! However, this is such an important conversation, it’s important to know how to psych yourself up for it.
Here’s how I recommended that one of my clients inform their professors about her learning difference.
Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, here’s a short summary:
I was just walking around a lake near my house with a client of mine, who goes to college out of state, and when she came back after this last quarter, we decided to do an outside meeting instead of the usual meeting in my office. And it was so great to hear her reflections about what she learned in this last quarter, and I there was one thing, in particular, I wanted to discuss with you all today that she told me about.
This client has a learning difference, and she had an interesting reflection around how she wants to discuss this with her professors in the future. She has a piece of paper she usually presents to her professors at the start of each semester, that states she is entitled to extended time on tests if she needs it. However; what she realized, is that she wants to make this presentation in the second week of class, that way she has time to look over the syllabus, get to know how this professor teaches, and to make some notes for herself about what specific problems she might have in this particular class, with their specific syllabus, and their specific teaching style. This way, when she goes to talk to her professors she can personalize the presentation and discuss with her professors what troubles she might have and have some open dialogue with her professors about how she might get help with those specific issues she might have.
Last August I invented an office toy called the MuseCubes. It’s designed to liberate people who think too much.
Although I originally intended the MuseCubes for grown-ups, teachers have been buying them right and left. They recognize the MuseCubes as the perfect, short break for stressed out students.
This afternoon, a geography teacher from a high school in Texas sent me the most amazing email. She’d just read through all her course evaluations and couldn’t help but notice all the references to MuseCubes. Dedicated customer that she is, she typed up her teenagers’ words for me to read:
You should keep the muse cubes. They’re really fun and when you do what they tell you to do, it’s funny and it gets our hopes up. –Jose M.
I think you should keep the fun little cube game for next year because it relaxes our brain by making us laugh and, in that way, we think better. –Maria S
You should keep the muze cubes because they are a lot of fun and they are a great way of giving us a well needed break but not losing our focus at the same time. -Cesar M.
You should keep the little dice thing because that’s funny. –Irving A.
I think the cubes you used at the end of the semester were awesome and it lightened up the classroom when it was dead. -Lizeth C.
You should keep the silly dances you would do when we were tired. -Mariza S. [Note: Mariza is referring to the fact that, sometimes the kids would watch Susan while she, alone, did what the MuseCubes said to do. It must be refreshing for students to watch an adult be such a goofball. At least, Mariza thought so!]
Wow! This is such great feedback. I’m thrilled that Susan’s students realize how important movement and laughter is for their brains.
We humans were not designed to sit and think for hours on end. We were designed to move and think.
Thank you, Susan, for taking the time to share your students’ words!