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Their Hearts and Hopes Have to Get to the Top Too pdf

By Katherine Larson, Ph.D. and Magda Neil, M.S. October 2010

Educators as Dream Builders – The ALAS Way

As with all of us, positive action requires intentions and intentions require imagining possibilities.

Hopefulness is an Essential Prerequisite to School Success
Every accomplishment, every invention, every achievement by humankind began with imagining a possibility. One cannot feel hopeless and still imagine life affirming possibilities. One cannot feel hopeless and also sidestep fears and limiting beliefs. One cannot feel hopeless and at the same time make transformational changes in their life's trajectory. Yet, we ask … no, we require, our highest risk students to do just that. We ask them to make transformational changes in their lives and school achievement while paying little or no attention to their hopefulness and ability to envision and embrace such possibilities.

Be a Role Model for Optimistic Thinking!

By Katherine Larson, Ph.D. September 2010


Here are some specific things you can do immediately to teach yourself and your students to think the way optimists do.

1. Refrain from making statements about yourself that are putdowns of your personality (e.g., "I'm such a …"). You don't want your student to copy this discouraging habit!

2. Listen to how your student describes himself. If your student makes a putdown statement about himself or herself that denotes a permanent trait, encourage and help your student REFUTE this putdown with counter examples. (e.g., refute "I am such a lousy writer" with "I didn't do well on this book report." Or "this was a flop but I have improved or I did well on my last report." Refute "I am so stupid." with "I didn't do this right.").


Why We Must Consciously Work to Build Student Resiliencypdf

By Katherine Larson, Ph.D.

Almost all school dropouts face adversity. Although students drop out for a wide variety of reasons tied to personal stories, most students who drop out experience a great deal of adversity and hardship because of risk factors related to poverty, being from a single parent household, being a minority, being male, having limited English ability, having learning or emotional disabilities, moving frequently or being overage. The question is - how can we help students cope more successfully with the adversity they experience? I see three compelling reasons why we must, and why we can build student resiliency and help our students cope more effectively with adversity.

ALAS Perspectives
Beliefs Associated with Successful Dropout Prevention Efforts pdf
  • Each student's needs are legitimate and schools must find solutions that work for each student
  • It is more powerful to help students focus their efforts toward what they want rather than away from what they don't want
  • It is necessary to accept what the student CAN do, not what one feels the student SHOULD be able to do
  • The highest-risk student has developed a core belief of self-as-failure and educators must continually work to help the student reframe this perception and replace it with the expectation of success

Action Tips!
Four Actions to Jump Start Your Students!

By Katherine Larson, Ph.D. January 2011


Sometimes little changes can make a huge difference in improving our lives.

But what little changes?

Teach your students to answer these 4 simple questions to identify the powerful little changes they need to make now, and jump start themselves into success.

Because adolescents can feel overwhelmed by expectations and big picture thinking, they can easily become "paralyzed in under performance" or resist making necessary changes in their behavior or attitude. When they are stuck, teaching your students to focus on four simple questions will help them move forward immediately and build momentum for making bigger changes. You can also use this strategy to jump start your own forward momentum!

Ten Ways to Boost Rapport with Disengaged Adolescents pdf

Katherine Larson, Ph.D. and Magda Neil, M.S. November 2010

Some of these are strategies recommended to use in every interaction you have with a student (*); some are to be used once in a while.

1. Listen without judgment. Just be present to simply express compassion for the student's suffering, even when self inflicted. Refrain from pointing out the life lesson. With good intentions, we automatically play out our teaching role, and forget that students, like adults, sometimes just need to have an adult with only a listening ear. Most kids making many mistakes get lectures not listeners in their adult interactions. When you are simply going to listen, don't focus on encouraging the student or building them up, use the time to simply listen and express compassion (head nodding, eye contact and facial expressions of compassion are all that's probably needed in the interaction).

Inspire Students!
Get Back Up, Nick Vujicic  
Will's Wisdom  


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