3 Reasons to Ask Students This Question

Written by Kayla Smith

September 13, 2021

School is back in full swing! But before the back-to-school excitement begins to fade and students settle into routines, asking one crucial question may change the trajectory for the year.

What does success look like to you? 

Students come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, so it’s crucial for school leaders and educators not to assume that every student has the same image of success. Even students from the same household may have different ideas of what success looks like to them. Asking this straightforward yet thought-provoking question can improve education outcomes for both students and school leaders. Here’s why:

#1: Meeting Students Needs

First and foremost, understanding what success looks like to each individual helps educators better meet students’ needs. As students define what a “successful” year looks like, it allows the teacher to determine and alleviate gaps in their learning that closely align with achieving their goals. When teachers understand each student’s unique perspective of success, they can better differentiate for each student. Additionally, they can offer valuable assistance and resources to help them be successful. For students to achieve their version of success, it can mean getting a tutor, having extra time to work in groups, or allocating more time towards their extracurriculars. An environment that addresses students’ needs can provide positive outcomes for both the student and the school.

#2: Deepens Personal Connections

Asking this defining question to students can provide tremendous insight into their lives, deepening personal connections. For one student, success could be reaching an advanced class in preparation for upcoming college placement exams. For others, success might be simply showing up every day and trying their best. Additionally, asking this question provides incredible insight towards how the student perceives themselves and their capabilities. Using this insight, educators can understand how to better empathize with and motivate their students, therefore fostering a strong classroom community. Especially in low socio-economic areas, healthy relationships are impactful contributing factors to keep students on a positive path in life. These conversations indicate to students that their teacher cares deeply about their education and their individuality. Additionally, healthy and caring relationships between teachers and their students promote improved educational outcomes.

#3: Student Motivation and Control

Motivating students can be challenging. Not every student is intuitively hardworking when it comes to their learning. For teachers to effectively give students that extra push they need, it must hold meaning for the student. By asking students about what success looks like to them, they (sometimes unknowingly) realize a goal they have for themselves. If students are discouraged, they can be reminded of their image of success and work towards that dream. More importantly, it gives students a sense of control over their education. Students can articulate what is important to them and allow teachers a partnership in their education, rather than a dictatorship. Furthermore, self-motivation and control over education help students develop confidence for the years to come. 

Student success has a different meaning for each student. The sooner students define what success looks like for them, the sooner they can move towards achieving their goals and experiencing positive education outcomes. Improving educational outcomes is what Schola is all about!

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