The Pursuit of Positive

We’ve had students in our classes for six weeks now and in some ways it seems like just yesterday that we were coming back from summer.  Classes are in full swing, multiple assessments have already happened, and we’re talking about first quarter reports and comments.  School is in full swing and while we all love our jobs, things can definitely get stressful and even a bit overwhelming.  

Fortunately we have a small reprieve coming next week in the way of a three-day weekend and a chance to get out of the city and enjoy a few days of relaxation.  Before we get too far ahead of ourselves I’d like to share a few ideas for helping to continue pushing a growth mindset in our classrooms.  Not only is this way of thinking the best way to help our students grow but it is also a great tool for helping ease the anxiety and stress that comes from consistently working with all of these growing, changing, and (at times) awkward teenagers.

We’ve all surely heard of the placebo effect and the power of this phenomenon.  While it is most often discussed in the context of medicine, there is a lot of evidence that supports the power of the mind as a tool to help students grow in school.  The power of positive thinking has many implications in the classroom.  I’d like to share a couple different articles about how this might look in your work with your students.

This first piece discusses the importance of positive relationships in the classroom and just how powerful they can be in the pursuit of student learning.  The article speaks, briefly, about the science behind positive thinking, the necessity for sincere interactions with students, and the importance of character.  It comes from Mind/Shift, a blog focused on the “future of learning.”

The second piece comes from a wonderful blogger, Elena Aguilar, whose articles are regular reading for me.  She blogs for edutopia.org and is a Transformational Leadership Coach in Oakland, California.  In this piece Elena discusses a strategy that will help you as a teacher to manage stress and at the same time build resilience. Focusing on the positives, no matter how small, will help foster positive interactions and improved classroom performance.  As Elena says, “The good news about our brains is that we can rewire them. We can train them to notice the positive.”

Mindset research and its impact on education is a topic for another day but these two articles are a very interesting segment of the Mindset conversation. Enjoy those articles and as an additional bonus have a look at this inspirational video about a young man, Austin Hatch, who has one of the most tremendous stories ever…it’s 15 minutes or so, watch until the end, it’s absolutely amazing…I promise it won’t disappoint!

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