- Education this year is like a roller coaster; keep your mindset grounded.
- Take charge of your mindset.
- Level your emotions.
- Change the narrative.
- At the end of each day, take time to write down three things that went well, two things that you want to improve on the next day, and one thing you will celebrate with students.
The Mindset Roller Coaster: Tight Turns & Steep Slopes Ahead
Strap in…the ride will be bumpy. While riding the educational roller coaster, keep your mindset affirmations close at hand and use them to help you stay grounded in the work. Affirmations have always been important, but as we continue to redefine education, continuous refinement will be essential. This will involve lots and lots of changes. Educators are accustomed to change, but it feels different this year.
Have you stopped to reflect on why this is?
Well, I have spent a little time thinking on this lately. The truth is that no one likes to change. We have all endured continuous change over the past couple of years almost daily. It is not that you/we disagree with the refinements that we are asked to do at work. We resist because we long to control something and before the pandemic many of us were working on autopilot.
The one thing that we used to be able to control was our classroom. Those days are gone. As we face challenges of learning loss, or impermanent learning as I like to call it, many school leaders have begun to ask educators to follow the same methods, systems, and protocols—many of which involve increased prep for lessons and an increased level of planning and professional development.While riding the educational roller coaster, keep your mindset affirmations close at hand and use them to help you stay grounded in the work. Click To Tweet
Are actions grounded in reality or emotions?
It’s important to ground your reality with truth and a positive mindset. The reality is the additional prep such as anchor charts, extra vocabulary, and additional time spent planning interventions and mini lessons for skills from the previous grade level standards all help to create routines, continuity of learning, guarantee that students are able to feel success, and produce an overall atmosphere of stability.
These small, strategic changes have been intentionally crafted to help students move from the fight or flight stage and into a less anxious and anxiety-filled state which helps prepare them for learning. Our children have been living through these tumultuous times with us.
Imagine how this feels for our students.
Our students need these systems. Trust me when I say that they know they are not ready for the material you are placing before them, but because you have worked so hard to prepare the lesson and created charts to anchor their learning, your students will go to extraordinary lengths to show you what they can do. Witnessing the resiliency of students can provide you with all the motivation needed to endure and press on. Give yourself permission to use the T-L-C method to support a shift towards adopting a more positive mindset.
T = Take charge of your mindset
Reflect on your mindset over the past few months. Mindset, or your mental attitude, determines how you view the world. Stop for a moment and think back on how you reacted to the last three things your administrators asked you to do, change, implement.
Which of these did your reaction convey: your own personal lens or what was best for your children? Do you really know? The only way to know for sure is to talk to your students. Consider taking a few moments next week at school to ask students how they feel about the procedures, routines, and protocols that your school has in place. The one thing that we can always count on is brutal honesty from our kids.
Try this. The next time administrators ask you to implement something new think to yourself: Will this change make my students feel safe, secure, and comfortable enough to make mistakes and truly concentrate on what they are learning at school?
L = Level your emotions
I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Mooji which says feelings are like visitors, let them come and go. Are you being ruled by your emotions? Normally, I wouldn’t even ask adults this question, but the truth is we are all in a “fight or flight” state of mind as we work to prevent an outbreak within our individual families, school, and classroom. This is definitely emotional overload!
Couple this with the research that shows that our brain is actually wired to respond differently to negative stimuli than it does to positive stimuli. Arm yourself with knowledge to avoid falling into a negativity trap. I can’t ever remember a time when we have had to be on guard, totally focused, and expected to perform flawlessly because people’s lives depend on it.
Well, not only do people’s lives depend on us, but we are also setting the foundation for our future. This is the reason that your administrator holds you to such high standards. Although they want to, their job is to keep us all moving forward. Our brains are working overtime to help keep ourselves and students safe.
I commend you and thank educators for sticking it out, staying in the fight, giving it all that you’ve got, and helping to strengthen the future of our nation. Our kids need us, and I know that they can count on each of you.
C = Change the narrative
How often do you celebrate small wins/victories with your students? Pause and celebrate. This changes the narrative for kids. At this time in society, it can become so easy to focus on everything that goes wrong in our world. Change the storyline by choosing to concentrate on the good, progress, or improvements of any kind.
Taking time to rejoice with students when they finally remember to stand in line while social distancing, when they entire class turns in homework, when students begin reading, improve their weekly/formative assessment scores by ten, twenty, or even fifty percentage points will not only bring your students joy, but will help your mindset and maintain an optimistic outlook within your classroom.
The stories we tell ourselves are important.
At the end of each day, take time to write down three things that went well, two things that you want to improve on the next day, and one thing you will celebrate with students during the class’s morning meeting or message. As an additional bonus, consider having students do this activity by writing down three things they did well, two things they need assistance with, and setting one goal for improvement.
Small things like this activity force us all to think about our day as a whole, shifts our mind from an inherent need to focus on or look for things that could or have gone wrong, and inherently brings out the good that occurred within our day. Adopting a little T-L-C will help us all remember to take charge of our mindset, level our emotions, and change the narrative.[scroll down to keep reading]
Warning: Tight turns and steep slopes ahead
The educational roller coaster is fast-paced, bumpy, and filled with many ups and downs. I know that you were hoping to coast through this year, but as the pandemic rages on we will have to continue to pivot and adjust in real time. Make sure that your seatbelt is securely buckled, this new curve may be our bumpiest yet. I would be worried, but teachers are some of the strongest people I know. Educators go to extraordinary lengths each day for students entrusted to their care. No matter what is going on in the world. I would bet on a teacher any day of the week.
Taming the educational roller coaster with “affirmations”
Lastly, controlling the educational roller coaster amid a surging pandemic won’t be easy. One method that I am using to help me on the positive end of the pendulum is through the use of affirmations.
Therefore this month, I’m ending with three of my favorite affirmations:
Believe in yourself and you will be unstoppable (Ford, 2020).
One person at a time, one day at a time, and one project at a time, you can make a difference that will leave a lasting impact on the world (Meah, 2021).
Take a deep breath, listen to your favorite song, and realize everything is gonna be okay…nothing is permanent (Cabello, 2021).
Cabello, C. (2021, January 12). Sayings, quotes, argument. Pinterest. Retrieved December 30, 2021, from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/175429347973650371/
Ford, B. (2020, June 25). Believe in yourself and you will be unstoppable. Self Improvement Daily. Retrieved on December 31, 2021 from “Believe in yourself and you will be unstoppable.” | Self-Improvement Daily Podcast (selfimprovementdailytips.com)
Meah, A. (2021). 41 Inspirational Quotes on Making A Difference. Retrieved on December 30, 2021, from 50 Inspirational Quotes On Making A Difference | AwakenTheGreatnessWithin
About Jami Fowler-White
Jami Fowler-White is the founder and CEO of Digital PD 4 You, LLC and co-creator of the Ignite Leadership Summit. Over the past two decades, she has served in many capacities in education which include ten years as a classroom teacher, ten years as an Instructional Coach, and a Core Advocate with Achieve the Core.
She currently mentors First-time and Renewal candidates for the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards and is a charter member of the National Board Network of Minoritized Educators and Black Women Education Leaders, Incorporated. Additionally, Mrs. Fowler-White is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and is currently serving as a Principal in Shelby County Schools (TN).
Fowler-White also provides professional development under the umbrella of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards and Digital PD 4 You for schools and districts. She is the author/coauthor of several books including, Educator Reflection Tips, Volume #1, EduMatch’s Snapshot in Education 2020: Remote Learning Edition, The Skin You are In: Colorism in the Black Community, 2nd Edition, and Educator Reflection Tips, Volume II: Refining our Practice. Jami blogs at DigitalPD4You.com , has a bi-monthly leadership blog on Insight Advance, and writes a monthly blog entitled the Better Mindset on TeachBetter.com. She invites you to connect with her on Twitter at @JjJj821 and on the Digital PD 4 You Facebook page.