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Don’t Always Rescue Your Struggling Learner

Mistake #1 / Rescue

I didn’t realize how much I rescue my struggling learner.


Let me start with what I did right. When I noticed the panic of not knowing an answer in her eyes, my smile and words of confidence helped bring peace. If that didn’t work, and real panic set it, we would breathe or do a physical activity. Once panic abated, we would try to complete the assignment.

Here’s where my tendency to rescue stepped in. If the correct answer didn’t come soon enough, I would provide it, then explain the why and how. That’s what teacher’s do, right?

Now that I’m becoming an expert and working with NILD, I learned a big lesson.

Don’t rescue.

During our therapy session, I sat with her giving her ample opportunity to answer the question. In one of our exercises, she didn’t know the answer, and actually became really mad at me for asking it. With a few prompts, she eventually answered correctly (chalk throwing may or may not have been involved). During a different exercise, she had to repeat after me but change something in the information. She stayed calm this time, but really struggled. I didn’t rescue. I just repeated the information calmly. Over. And. Over. Guess what? She did it! I paid attention to my thought processes and realized I often rescue. After three tries, I give in and give up the answer.

When I rescue, I’m taking away the opportunity for her to succeed.

After the end of that lesson, she told me she never wanted to do the therapy again.

I didn’t rescue. I let her own those feelings. I felt pretty defeated as well. The next day we discussed why we are doing it. At the end of that day’s therapy, she confessed she had fun!

I didn’t rescue,

she succeeded,

and her confidence grew!

Disclaimer: The therapy we are currently doing is practice for my NILD course. In July I will be certified as an educational therapist (level I). I do not share any information about students I do therapy with, unless they are my own children, with their consent.

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