Author: Dawn Mitchell
This weekend brought some of the first cool weather of fall to our area and with the crisp autumn winds bringing about the change of season, I thought about how we can consider the possibility of changing our perspective as well.
In considering turning over a "new leaf" this fall (see what I did there ), I wanted to share with you some excellent suggestions from Lori Desautels' Edutopia article, Perspective: A Game Changer in the Classroom and in Our Lives.
Deusautels writes, "Perspectives are bundles of beliefs, a mindset that we each embrace determining how we see one another, our experiences, and possibilities or lack thereof. As teachers, our perspectives directly impact student emotions and their learning, because emotions are contagious. When we change our perspectives, we provide ourselves with a novel view through a lens that can open us to a growth mindset, defined by Carol Dweck as a belief that emotional and cognitive intelligence can change based on our desires and the plasticity of our thought processes. What can we do to shift perspective in our schools and classrooms? From my experiences, these three practices might assist us in approaching relationships, instruction, and even assessments with a novel working lens and increased learning."
Here are her top three tips:
Recognize Triggers and Challenges: Write down two or three of the greatest teachers in your classroom or building... Your triggers could also be a particular routine or procedure that feels stale and oppressive, or simply not invigorating anymore. After you identify the experiences or persons that feel challenging; write down two positive outcomes that, once upon a time, did not feel so challenging about those persons or situations. These don't have to be enormous realizations. They can be daily "noticings" that have disappeared from our vision because our mindset and eyes have landed on the tedious, repetitive negative.
Show a Different View: Teach your students about the power of perspective. Explain that we all see, feel and behave in ways that mirror our own attitudes, thoughts, and emotions. Explain that although everyone is gathered in the same room, each person has a different view, and that is how we can all approach daily experiences and relationships. After each student has recorded his or her view, talk about these changed views, relating this activity to a frustration or a stuck thought or feeling. There is great change that occurs in groups as together we can brainstorm new ways to see worn-out behaviors and relationships.
Offer a Fresh Start: Change up the routine for a week to generate fresh methods of instruction and classroom culture. When students walk in on Monday morning, offer subjects in a different order, wear your clothes backward, or create mottos or nicknames to use for the week based on an attribute of each student. Connect props to content and standards, wear two different shoes, or greet your class as you sit by a freshly decorated entrance to the room, a gesture that indirectly states, "You have a fresh start every time you walk through these doors. What will you choose to see and create today?"
Why is Adaptability Important for Teachers?
The best way we can model perspective for our students is to work to adapt our own perspectives as well. Education has always been malleable, constantly changing in response to our society and ultimately, our students. In her article, Being Able to Adapt in the Classroom Improves Teachers’ Well-Being, Rebecca Collie and her colleagues write
"Just as general life is full of changing, new, and uncertain situations, so are our working lives — and especially the working lives of teachers. For example, at work teachers regularly:
Encounter a diverse range of learners to whom they must respond appropriately;
Face unexpected situations in the classroom or shifts in timetabling that they need to navigate;
Interact with new colleagues, students, and parents;
Integrate new and changing knowledge from professional learning into their teaching practices.
All of these situations require teachers to adapt in order to successfully navigate them. Adapting may involve adjusting lesson pacing to better engage students, minimizing frustration when a lesson is not going according to plan, or adapting one’s approach to collaboration to work well with a new colleague."
A couple of other great reads for new teachers on changing perspective in ourselves and in our students are:
Through Others' Eyes: The Power of New Perspectives by Kathleen Cushman and Wendy Baron
The Power of Perspective by Randy Taran
I want to leave you with this quote by Wayne Dyer. “If you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.”