Changing Mindsets

Children are much  more than their behaviors, and it is important for you to develop a process by which you can separate your feelings for the child from your feelings about the child’s behavior. In order to change anything about the environment or how you implement your curriculum, you must first change your mindset about the behaviors that you see in the classroom. It is so easy to begin characterizing children by their behavior: “That one is bad,” “That one never listens.” But the important thing to remember is that children are people, just like you, and you wouldn’t want anyone characterizing you by traits that aren’t you: “She doesn’t listen to anything,” or “She is a bad teacher because she never does ________.” We all do the things that we do for a reason, and just as you wouldn’t want to be characterized by what others perceive as faults, neither does a child.

In the next few posts I will be outlining a series of action steps that you can take in order to begin changing your mindset about a child and his/her behavior. These steps are adapted from the Conscious Discipline program by Dr. Becky Bailey. Today we will work with the first three action steps:

  • Step One: Identify the child in your class that creates the most stress for you.
  • Step Two: Return to the post about trigger thoughts and identify the trigger thoughts that you regularly experience in connection with this child’s behavior.
  • Step Three: Identify the feelings or emotions that you go through during the child’s behavior. A good place to start is the list of emotions in this post.

In the next post, we will work with the next two action steps.



The Teacher’s Choice

In my last post I talked about the stress that teachers face in the classroom. Most of them face this stress every day, and a lot of teachers do not have adequate support to help them handle the classroom situations that cause them so much stress. I have been a teacher in a preschool classroom for many years; the majority of my years teaching have been spent in classrooms by myself with no extra support.

Any time you find yourself in a stressful classroom situation you have a choice about how you will react to that situation. You can react to the situation in a calm manner or an angry manner; it is ultimately up to you. Or, as Dr. Becky Bailey puts it, “No one can make you angry without your permission.” This may seem easier said than done, but allow me to explain.

When you say that someone makes you do something, you are ultimately saying that this person has control over you – enough control that you would not be able to stop yourself from doing what the other person wanted you to do. When you say that a child is making you angry, you have effectively given away your power to a child.

It is time for you to take your power back. That is why I say that you have a choice. Do you choose to give your power away to a child or do you choose to keep your power for yourself?

In my next post, I will discuss what goes on in our heads during stressful classroom situations.

Reflecting on the Week Behind Me

Wow, what a week! I had been on vacation this past week, and I am looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. But I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the things that I did this week and how they have seemed to change my frame of mind.

First, I defined and publicized where I stand philosophically. I think that this one act did more to help my frame of mind more than anything else I did this past week.

See, I work in child care, and I love my job. I enjoy teaching and working with kids. I want to find ways to teach kids better. I think that kids have amazing potential that child care professionals don’t give them credit for a lot of the time. But my philosophical views were making me very close-minded as to what the best methods are to teach. This close-mindedness made it difficult for me to look at current trends and research without any prejudice against them. My own narrow-mindedness made it extremely difficult to find new methods that work or that can help improve my methods.

Defining my own philosophy helped in that it seemed to set me free to examine everything in a new light, and I have learned so much this past week! I have even come across some methods that I am going to try, methods that I know I would have scoffed at or had something smart to say about only a few weeks ago. It is absolutely amazing to me what a little knowledge will do for your mind.

So I am thoroughly looking forward to going back to work to learn even more and try new things. It is an exciting field that I am in, and I love every minute of my time in it.