Practice Self Compassion and Compassion for Others
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” ― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness
I am enrolled in a blogging class. One of our assignments was to read other blogs, comment on them, then create a blog of our own based on a blog that we read. I read a great blog by a gentleman, queasy paddy, whose blog is called A Drop in the Ocean. He is sharing his journey as he tries to improve his health as part of a news years resolution. He is taking a break from alcohol. He is also a great poet. You can read about his journey here.
Reading his journey made me think about how much we don’t know about each other. We don’t know the struggles that everyone we meet and everyone we deal with each day are facing. As teachers we often see our students struggles reflected in their behavior. Everyday we have to dig deep to ensure that we have enough compassion, love and patience to help but not enable. That is sometimes a tough order, especially on days when our struggles are pulling at us.
Please don’t give up on yourself or your students.
Did you know that a lot of research has been done on educator energy dips. Between Halloween and Christmas is one of the lowest dips for educators. A study done for the Beginning Teacher program in California(BTSA) found that beginning teachers go through several stages during the year. It has been my experience that many of these stages apply to all educators regardless of your role or experience. Here is a graphic describing the phases:
It’s really time to take care of yourself. You know what that means: eat right, exercise(even just a little will help), sleep,etc! When school starts we are all usually filled with excitement and energized by the challenge of the new year. It takes so much energy to get everything up and running. If you are an administrator, for example, you spend countless hours organizing everything, keeping things under control, building supportive and caring relationships and monitoring and adjusting everything. If you are a teacher, you have spent the last three months creating a classroom climate that functions smoothly. You started with nothing and made it happen. This is exhausting. You most likely have come a long way teaching and reinforcing rules and procedures as well as creating a climate that is rich in productive and positive relationships. You may also not be quite where you need your students to be. This can be discouraging. It seems like you are rolling a boulder up hill! November and December can be trying times in schools.
If you can, take a little time to reflect. Work on your own growth mindset! Monitor your own self-talk just as you do for your students or staff. Perhaps you could employ the power of YET!
My students do understand multiplying fractions yet!
My classroom does not function as smoothly as possible yet!
My staff is not functioning as a productive Professional Learning Community yet!
You might also try creating your own set of beliefs that can serve as guideposts for improving your practice.
I believe that through practice, perseverance and hard work my students will learn.
I believe that I can encourage my students to accept challenges.
I believe that I can create a climate where my students will take risks and learn from mistakes.
Every classroom, school, district and state has unique sets of problems, issues and challenges. We have to remember that we can only create change though our circle of influence, but it may be bigger than we think.
Not only is how we praise a way to enhance or discourage a growth mindset, students also need to learn that their brains are designed to learn and grow. Brains like a challenge. Help students identify instances where they have mastered something like a video game. How did they do it? Most likely they practiced. They didn’t give up. They persevered. The brain loves this!
Just like the body loves exercise the brain likes learning. Students might also recognize that they have learned new things in sports and through other physical challenges by practicing and practicing and getting help, support and feedback to get better. Riding a bike, learning to walk, learning to jump rope and playing tetherball are some examples. Have students create journal entries on how they learn new things.
Students can also learn to monitor their negative self talk and say things to themselves that encourage a challenge. For example:
Say: What am I missing? Not: I’m not good at this.
Say: I’ll try some different strategies. Not: I’m not good at this.
Say: I can always improve. Not: I can’t make this any better.
Say: This is going to take some time and effort. Not: This is too hard for me.
Say: Mistakes are always on the path to deep learning. Not: I always make mistakes.
Students can make classroom charts. They can catch each other making statements that don’t support learning.
Students might also like to know that many famous and successful people have faced challenges. Here are a few examples:
If our students have a growth mindset they embrace challenges. They know that they can learn new things. That’s a huge boost to motivation and engagement. It’s really a freeing experience to look forward to a challenge.
Students with a fixed mindset feel that their learning ability is fixed. They think that they do not have the talent to succeed and excel in some subjects or tasks. They might say things like:
- “I’m not good at Math”
- “I’m not an athlete.”
- “I can’t write.”
As parents, teachers and coaches we can change and develop mindsets. One of the first things to think about is how we dole out praise. Here is a link to some videos that illustrate the point.
One of the best ways that Carol Dweck suggests we can influence a growth mindset, is to focus on the process used to learn rather than the finished product or result.
For example highlight strategies, effort or choices:
- “You put a lot of effort into that.”
- “I like the choices you made.”
- “That extra practice really helped you improve!”
- “How did you do that”?
- “How many times did you try it before it turned out the way you wanted it?”
Check on yourself.…
- Which brain illustration represents a fixed mindset, blue or green?
- Which brain illustration represents a growth mindset, blue or green?
answer: blue = fixed, green =growth
Carol Dweck from Stanford has done some very interesting research on our attitudes and basic beliefs about our learning abilities. In her research she identified two categories: fixed mindset and growth mindset. If you have a fixed mindset you most likely believe that your intelligence is fixed and determines your abilities. For example, I am just not good at Math is a belief about your ability to do well in Math. That would be a fixed mindset about Math. If you have a growth mindset, you believe that you can learn new things through dedication and effort. Most of us have attitudes about our ability to learn and accept challenges that fall in both mindsets.
Students with growth mindsets, those who believe that they can learn new things by perseverance and effort do better in school. The good news is that Dr. Dweck has shown that we can teach students, teachers and everyone to have a growth mindset. Mindsets are learned and can be changed. Teachers, parents, coaches and anyone who teaches someone something new can influence their students’ mindsets through effective feedback.
A growth mindset helps you do better in situations where you are challenged. You look at obstacles as walls put there to climb over not to stop you. Even though it may be difficult , you don’t give up easily when things get hard. If you have a fixed mindset you may be discouraged or derailed because you just don’t think you have the ability to meet the challenge. Perhaps someone told you that you just didn’t have the talent to succeed at that sort of challenge.
- Fixed Mindset: Belief that one’s qualities are static. Creates a need to prove oneself over and over.
- Growth Mindset: Belief that your basic qualities are things that can be developed and cultivated through effort. Initial talents and aptitudes can grow through perseverance and experience.
Dr. Dweck has a great website, mindsetsonline.com with lots of interesting videos and ideas for how to influence mindsets. Another great resource has been developed by the Kahn Academy, You Can Learn Anything. Visit it here. Visit this blog again for more on how to use this important research to help your students grow.
Setting up a new blog and website. It’s a challenge for me! Using my GRIT!!!