Building a Resilient, Positive Mindset
Author: Jeremy Crowe
What kind of journey are you on?
The alarm buzzes each morning and you roll out of bed to begin your journey into the demanding, difficult world of education.
How do you approach it?
How does your mental state and awareness affect the productivity and genuine connections you make each day?
Starting each day mindfully allows you to be more aware of yourself and gives you the ability to control your emotions and see challenges in a different way. I used to unintentionally start each day with a negative mindset and it directly affected my ability to be an effective and happy teacher. I was constantly frustrated with the demands of teaching and student misbehavior. Then I realized that I was setting my day up for failure before I even stepped into the classroom.
That is when I began creating a morning routine that allowed me to be a little more mindful in my personal and professional life. I hope that by sharing my experiences, you can take them and make your classroom a joyful place to be for you and your students!
TIP #1: GOAL SETTING
Each day, create an attainable goal that will directly impact how you feel about yourself and your career. Setting and achieving goals creates a feeling of motivation, self-confidence, and drive. Even simple goals can achieve these results and will dramatically improve your mood throughout the day.
For example, a goal I set for myself was staying calm when redirecting student misbehavior. The classic “call and response” was no longer working and frustration was building quickly. To be proactive, I challenged myself to find creative ways to gain my students ‘ attention. This allowed me to bring my love of music into the classroom. I chose a song that would create the feeling of joy and take me back to my days as a child; the Saved by the Bell introduction. I immediately noticed a difference not only in my students, but in me. By making a conscious goal to not raise my voice and instead use my creativity, I became a more confident, passionate, and joyful teacher and my students became happier learners.
TIP #2: DEEP BREATHING
During your commute, awaken your senses by focusing on your breath. Notice the cool air as you take a deep breath in, and slowly count to 5. As you breathe out, relieve the tension in your body by relaxing your muscles. Repeat 4-5 times using a mantra to set a positive intention for the day.
“I change my thoughts, I change my world”...
…is a mantra used to gain control of your thoughts and to remind you to be aware of the power you hold over your day. Be mindful of the emotions as they rise and fall, come and go. Be mindful of your environment and the tendency to resist it. This technique allows you to approach the day with a positive mindset, in control of your emotions.
TIP #3: SELF CHECK-IN
Take advantage of your commute to work and use it as a time to check in on how you are doing. Be mindful of the type of thoughts you are having. Create a positive mindset by shifting your negative thoughts into constructive ideas to counteract the challenging moments of the day.
These moments can be very small and simple, such as leaving a personal note on a students’ desk or meeting with a student during transitions to let them know you appreciate them. When you take a brief moment to spread kindness to your students in a personal way, they mirror that. Not only will the social interactions among your students improve, their respect towards you raises and the dreaded moments of misbehavior lessen.
TIP #4: BE PROACTIVE
Students are going to act up; we cannot control that. What we can control is our response to those challenging moments and our mindset on how to approach them. Please take the time each morning to give yourself grace. Teaching is hard and it takes a resilient mindset to do the amazing, challenging, and emotionally draining work. You have to be in a healthy mental state to be an effective teacher, and a happy human.
During your morning commute, as worries might sway in and out of your head, remind yourself of what aspects of the day you are actually able to control. Then develop steps to make your day more enjoyable for you. This could include speaking to a particular student and getting to know something about them or being conscious of only using positive praise to uplift the classroom environment. Action steps will help you create a joyful and productive learning community that you look forward to being the leader of every day.
The commute home often becomes a replay of the negative interactions and demands that we experienced from our students; many of which were completely out of our control. We often forget that teachers can only influence a student’s behavior; we cannot control their choices. The joyful moments we had control of are lost within the negativity, creating a strong sense of self-defeat. In that moment, our thoughts create a false reality, and we begin to think that we are not good enough, while simultaneously diminishing our self-worth as teachers of the future.
To shift a negative mindset, we must remember the action steps we created that morning. When you are decompressing from the tiring day, review how you did achieving your goals. Hold yourself accountable for the moments of joy you gave to your students and the areas you want to work on. Be proud of the moments in your day you had control of and focus on the successes. Of course there is something to always improve, but give yourself grace and remember…
What you pay attention to, grows.
TIP #5: LISTEN TO INSPIRING PODCASTS
Finding a podcast that fuels inspiration and produces creative thought is a perfect way to enter into each day with a positive mindset. Below you will find 3 of my favorite podcasts that help promote positivity and that restore my energy through even the most challenging weeks!
1. The Creative Classroom by John Spencer
If you are looking to boost your creativity, I would highly recommend The Creative Classroom by John Spencer. Each week John shares tools, strategies, and stories that boosts creativity and innovation. He pushes you to view obstacles, frustrations, and difficulties from a design thinking perspective. His podcasts have helped transform many classrooms into a space of imagination, wonder, and joy.
2. Truth for Teachers by Angela Watson
Truth for Teachers covers all aspects of a teacher’s daily life in and out of the classroom. Woven through each episode she focuses on how to be mindful of your time, your needs, and the common problems all teachers face. She provides words of encouragement and truth that will inspire you for the week ahead. By starting your week with her podcast, you can integrate the mindset and topic she introduces into your daily routine with ease.
3. Cult of Pedagogy by Jennifer Gonzalez
Cult of Pedagogy is phenomenal! Jennnifer Gonzalez interviews other educators about the psychological and social dynamics of schools and how to make your teaching more effective and fun. You can even view her podcasts by category so that you can find support in whatever you are in need of at that time. Whether it is classroom management techniques or inspiration for the day ahead, Jennifer has an episode for that.
Have any mindful morning tips to share with the group?
We would love to hear about them in the Markers and Minions Teacher Community!
Please leave a comment below with what you do to bring joy into your classroom!
Join me every Tuesday for more S.E.L. tips!