If you work with students, are any of these comments familiar to you? I know I’ve heard my share over the years.
“I can’t do this… it’s too hard.”
“Sherry’s the smart one, not me, so ask her.”
“I always fail so why try.”
Unfortunately, this language is quite popular in our education system and continues to be heard from students even at a young age. What we need to see here is opportunity! Yes! A great opportunity to connect with students and find out what they are great at and where their passion lies so we can squash these type of comments. With many of our students, those opportunities come in the form of being great at compassion, problem solving, creativity, a caretaker, curious, or even finding a loophole. This list could go on and on. Although these are not testable skills, they will be tested in life and bring such a high value to what our students offer.
Where do we begin? By valuing the humans that are before us! We can do this in just 5 simple steps… 5 Steps to Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E.™!
Ask students what they are good at doing and maybe even enjoy. Have them tell you. If they have trouble with sharing their gifts, skills and talents, that should be a red flag to us to help them see what they bring every day that adds value to the classroom, school and community. If they still struggle, ask them what a friend or relative would say they are good at doing. Try to not prompt them with your thoughts, it is important they recognize and verbalize this themselves. When they have to say it, they begin to also own it.
What lights your students up and gets them pumped? If they could jump out of bed to do a certain thing every day, what would it be? When I worked with an entire school’s class of fifth graders on this, 90% said video games. So true! Continue to ask your students what they would love to do. If it is games? Put more games into what you teach. What if they say creating by building or drawing? Put more art or engineering opportunities into your lessons. As a matter of fact, lean in to listen to what they have to say, but lean back to process what they are telling you. What an incredible turning point we can make to bring students back into being motivated… even during this time of year!
Go back to the negative words or thoughts you may hear students say. We all have those thoughts or those moments. What we do with them matters. When it comes to staying inspired, it is crucial that we break any negative looping patterns in our brain. By recognizing and teaching students to catch this… matters. We can accomplish this through positive self-talk like learning to question the word, “always”. Imagine a student thinking this, “I always fail…. Wait! Do I always fail? No, not every time…” These kinds of questions teach our brain to catch thoughts such as this that can cause us to spiral down. I highly recommend helping students find a quote, song or object that is an anchor, a reminder that our negative feelings are temporary and often our choice. Seeing or hearing an anchor can help us to remember it’s a choice and we can make the choice to do something positive about what is going on.
What do you want your legacy, story or journey to be? We create much of this and we only get one life! So, what are our goals? Students should set short term and long-term goals and they should be the ones to do just that- with guidance. Have students create a goal. Every time they succeed toward that goal, they put a smiley face on the date on a calendar. If they miss the goal that day, no smiley face. Feel free to have them journal what they did to achieve their goal or what got in the way of not achieving it. Teach them to recognize excuses and how to overcome any barriers that get in the way. Perseverance and grit- bring it!
This is my favorite step in the process. When we teach students that they have incredible skills, talents and gifts, in all forms, and marry that with the core of their passion, they have an unstoppable package to serve themselves and to serve others. As they continue to stay inspired (and inspire others!), they have the willpower and motivation to carry them through their action plan of goals. Finally, by doing that, they are on the path to become the exceptional human being they were meant to be. This is where we make it a point to celebrate who they are, their accomplishments, and ways to integrate those things into our time with them. Celebrations are key! Even the small things build to big things.
By implementing the 5 Steps to Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E.™, we teach students to be confident in who they are and the gifts they have, so when they leave us… they are ready to illuminate the world. Let’s make it happen.
LaVonna Roth is the energetic personality behind Minds That Matter and is an internationally known brain-powered educational consultant, author, and presenter. She is a regular presenter at many events including the Common Core Institute and Center for College and Career Readiness. LaVonna has had the privilege of teaching 2nd through 8th grade, as well as serving several years as a Team Leader and Mentor Teacher. Much of LaVonna’s classroom success stemmed from how she managed her classroom and kept students engaged with effective hands-on lessons. She has also authored a lesson plan format (The 4i’s) that embeds brain research and supports the core elements of a lesson to make the difference in instruction and learning outcomes for students.