Shift Your Mindset


Students want to do well. Students want to be liked. Students want to enjoy their lives, even at school. As a teacher it is important to remember these things because sometimes when we have a student who seems to be giving us a hard time, it can feel like they want to do poorly, or they want to be a pain. The problem with this thinking is that it’s not true. I would guess there are very few people in this world that don’t want to feel successful and don’t want to be liked and don’t want to enjoy their life.

So what’s a teacher to do? Teachers can help themselves by shifting their mindset. When we change how we think about a student, it changes the responses that are available to us. Let’s look at an example.
Student A begins the school year acting out in class and making all the other students laugh. When you redirect Student A to the assignment, they lose attention quickly and ultimately pull other kids with them by goofing off. It’s just the beginning of the year and you are already struggling with this kid and losing the respect of your class since all the kids are just paying attention to Student A to see what they are going to do next.
Student A just doesn’t want to learn.

Now let’s shift our mindset about Student A. Instead of Student A doesn’t want to listen let’s say Student A is having a hard time in class.

Well, if Student A is having a hard time in class, is it because they need more attention from us? Are they finding the material too difficult? Are they hungry because they didn’t get to eat breakfast at home? Now we have some questions to answer and new tools available to us besides feeling frustrated and angry.
The first step is most likely to have a conversation with Student A after class, before class, or during a natural class break.

When you have the conversation, use collaborative problem solving skills. You may start the conversation by saying something like: I’ve noticed you are having a hard time paying attention in class. What’s going on?
Then listen.

What do you learn from this conversation? What is going on? What does this student need from you to be successful?

Students need to know that their teachers are their partners. We are all working together to learn. When you shift your mindset, you can begin partnering with your students to create a classroom where you all have a common goal.

Want to learn more?

Check out our teacher workshops!

The Identity Workshop bundle and SEL Foundations Workshop bundle complement this topic well. Identity focuses on teaching self-awareness and developing confidence in oneself. Whereas the SEL Foundations workshop focuses on creating an SEL routine in your classroom and classroom management strategies.
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Our SEL Student Workbooks and Digital Class Packs complement the topic of well-being and mindfulness well. Check them out!