Rita Pierson: Every Kid Needs a Champion

Rita Pierson: Every Kid Needs a Champion

Motivating reluctant learners is no easy feat, and motivation is a key element of learning and applying executive function strategies. While there are many factors that influence students’ motivation levels, relationships with teachers have a particularly profound impact.


“All learning is understanding relationships.”
— George Washington Carver

Teacher-Student Connections

There are countless ways teachers can positively influence children’s outcomes in the face of adversity. Teachers play a role in nurturing children’s resiliency and influencing children’s motivations. By forging strong relationships with students, teachers can show students that their thoughts, interests, and opinions are valued.

Promoting metacognition can also help students develop the skills they need to create and maintain successful relationships. Offering students a glimpse into your personal strengths, challenges, and strategies can help them understand that these skills matter for adults and can help them operate more efficiently.

Connecting with teachers is important beyond elementary and secondary school. Many of our students at ILD have shared that forging relationships with professors was a critical aspect of their success in college.  

Every Kid Needs a Champion

Rita Pierson, an educator for over 40 years, approached teaching with a deep yearning to understand her students, help them realize their strengths, and support them in their learning journeys. In this video, she speaks about the need to believe in students and connect with them on a personal level. 

“Seek first to understand rather than be understood.”
— Saint Francis of Assisi

For more ways to motivate students to use executive function strategies, check out these recommendations

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org