It did not matter whether I was living and teaching in Europe, Asia or the Middle East, all learners wanted the following:
- To be praised.
- To feel successful.
- To be happy.
- To be liked.
- To be safe.
- To be recognized.
- To be loved.
The list is endless…and please don’t tell me you don’t want any of these things too, right!
From an educational point of view, it was also clear that all learners have the potential to be highly successful in whatever it is they are studying. This is because they have already all learned to walk and talk. a process far more complex than doing calculus.
But, given that all new students had the potential to perform well in their studies I soon began to realize that I could identify some students that I felt had the potential for greater success than others who were starting in that year.
In the beginning
To see if my intuition was correct. At the beginning of the academic year, I would identify some students who I thought may be more successful in their chosen subject by the end of the year than most others. I made sure that they did not know I felt that they had any greater potential and also I did not look at their past performance or grades. I simply watched the new students on enrolment day and made a selection.
In case of any bias creeping in, I also made sure that I did not have any contact with these students over the year and if I did then they were removed from the list. At the end of the year, I looked for these students results to see how well they had performed.
Some students had dropped out or failed to progress for one reason or another but overall the success rate of these particular students was higher than the average for that year.
This meant that I could identify some students who had a better than average chance of achieving a higher grade in a subject without knowing anything about them.
I am not saying that I have any special voodoo skills. If you ask any seasoned teacher or educator you will probably find that they could identify those students that, in their opinion, will achieve better results than the other students in the group.
So what is it that is being identified in those early stages?
What is it that we can see in a person that is likely to make them more successful than others in the same group and, more importantly, how do you get some of it?
The simple answer is their behavior. On that first day, their behavior gave an indication of their potential for future success. The student I was adding to my list as having high potential were those students who seemed to me to be more ‘awake’. They were more attentive when they needed to be. Took instruction and were not afraid to ask for clarification. They had confidence but not arrogance. They also seemed to be keen and energetic whilst also controlled and mindful of the situation and people around them.
You probably know the type already. They are the ones who always appear to know what they should be doing next. They seem to be a bit more organized and in control of themselves and their surroundings, and they usually have a few followers with them that recognize this and make the most of it by tagging along.
So what gives them the edge?
This could be summed up in one word - Attitude. To be more helpful I have broken this down into 5 main observable areas that everyone can develop below. Please also remember that these students all seemed to be positive and generally happy which is an overall result of having the traits listed below.
5 simple traits you need to be a top student.
Too much confidence means that you may stop listening and learning because you already ‘know it all’. These students appeared to have enough confidence to not be afraid to ask for help or additional information if they were not sure of something.
They were generally polite and grateful for any help they were given. They appeared to be ‘nice’ people. This may also mean that they may have been more liked by the teachers during the year and as a result may have got more help and support.
Perhaps this is the wrong word but this is what it looked like at the beginning of the year. These students appeared to be genuinely interested in what was going on and eager to find out more. Perhaps during their studies this could be described as inquisitiveness.
They appeared to be very aware of what was going on around them. They seemed to be looking all around and taking it all in. They also appeared to know what to do and when, while other students stood confused.
When someone was giving instruction these were the students who were clearly listening. While others may have quietly chatted or poked each other these students seemed to be fully engaged with the speaker. Often nodding and smiling as things were being said. During their studies, this was probably an ability to 'concentrate' on the task at hand.
So, if you want to do well, or you want your children to do well in their studies and their life, make sure you spend time developing some or all of the traits above and they will have a much better chance of success than most of the other students.
Main image Pixabay PhotoMIX-Company