There is a simple 2-minute task you can have your students do each day, that, if repeated for 21 days researchers have found brings the following results:
“Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, what we've found is that every single business outcome improves. Your brain is 31 percent more productive... You're 37 percent better at sales. Doctors are 19 percent faster, more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis. Our brains work even more successfully as we're able to work harder, faster and more intelligently.”
– Psychologist, Shawn Achor (FYI: a few words that revealed the secret were omitted to build curiosity)
What is it that brings about these drastic improvements?
Here’s Shawn Achor with the answer:
So, what’s the thing that can drastically boost the success of your struggling readers: positivity.
When you get a student in a positive mindset, their brain releases dopamine, which does two things for them:
- They are happier.
- All of the learning centers of their brain are turned on.
Both of these effects are beneficial for helping struggling readers. These students feel defeated, self-conscious, and demotivated. Getting them to feel happy and positive is crucial for their success. And the second point, positivity turns on all of the learning centers in your brain, is going to help them understand new material at a faster rate, helping boost their self-esteem and maintain a postive attitude. If you can help your struggling readers get in a positive mindset before your instruction, their cognitive abilities can be boosted by an average of 31%.
It’s amazing how much something so unrelated to ability affects your students’ abilities. In fact, according to Achor, ability is rarely the cause of success, “75% of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat.”
This provides so much power and insight as to how to help the struggling readers in your classroom succeed.
The best thing about Achor's research is that it is so easy to implement. Here are six simple suggestions from Achor that will help your students retrain their brains to view the world in a more positive light:
- Spend two minutes a day to write down three new things you are grateful for - for 21 days in a row.
- Journal about one positive experience you’ve had every 24 hours.
- Meditate to allow your brain to focus on one thing at a time.
- Perform random acts of kindness.
- Write one positive email to someone you know every time you open up your inbox.
So, take two minutes at the start of each class to have your students write down three things they are grateful for, and see how it affects their success at learning to read. (I’d love to hear how it goes!)
And, if you really want to help your students: work on increasing your own level of positivity. It will make you 31% more effective at reaching your students. Your brain will be more creative and adept at solving your students’ problems. Plus, on top of all of that: you will be happier.