Our actions are reflections of our thoughts- sometimes we can fool people and act in a way different from what we believe. Usually- this is not the case and our actions will showcase our thoughts, beliefs, and underlying assumptions.
Understanding this notion is important in education. If you believe that a child can do something, you will help them achieve that something. BUT the contrary is true to, if you believe a child cannot do something, they probably will not do that something for you. Take for example, when you learn that child is entering your class that has a reading learning disorder- many of us would directly go to all the areas in which the child might struggle. It becomes an additional weight on our shoulders. However, what if we flipped the thought to seeing 'learning disorder' as the child just being a unique reader or an individual. Instead of thinking what they cannot do, think about how they are good at seeing complex reading patterns and comprehending these patterns, despite requiring additional support with isolated words.
It is all about how we frame our thoughts. It is easy to think with us at the centre- how is this going to impact me? But in education, we have to think with the kiddos at the centre.
I am not advocating for teacher burnout or working crazy long hours or anything similar. What I am advocating for is developing our thoughts about students differently- think about students as individuals who they are as learners. What do they bring to the community? What are their strengths? How can you strengthen the strengths? What do these strengths mean for their learning? Where do they require additional support? Are these areas really 'problematic' for their learning or have I decided they are problematic because it is a little different?
As educators, we need to develop a professional mindset or a believe system that supports the concept of difference is normal.... and that is awesome!
Here are a few ways to develop your professional mindset:
change your inner voice: start using words that reflect what you want to be thinking: can, strengths, individual, support, it's ok.......a negative inner adds weight to our shoulders and walls to our actions.
change your language: just like you did with your inner voice, work on your communication. Teach or train yourself to think of students as kiddos who require additional support. A remember everyone needs support at times, it looks different for everyone- and that is ok!
learn learn learn: learn about your students, learn about universal design for learn, learn about differentiation, learn about different perspectives, and learn about supporting all students- keep your ears open, your eyes open, and your mind open.
surround yourself with educators who have your desired mindset: as difficult as group think can be, in this case group think will help jump start your growth! Surround yourself with people who think and act in a way you desire.
push your personal boundaries: get out of your comfort zone- this is the time to change, and you need to push your boundaries in order to grow.