Change your words to change your mind

Some days you need to hear encouraging words to get you back on track or re-frame a challenging moment. As classroom teachers we spend most days as a solitary adult and some of the most important conversations we might have are with ourselves. Our self-talk on challenging days can be our worst enemy:

“If only I had said…”
“I should have done …”
“I am a crappy teacher, because… ”
“I am so frustrated with….”
“That student is being so rude to ME.”
“I totally messed up!!”

Or our self-talk can be a tool we rely on like a trusty teaching strategy or structure. For me purposeful self-talk has stopped me from making a mountain out of a mole hill (most times), prevented engagement in non-productive conflict and reminded me to be empathetic instead of judgmental.

What words do you use to navigate life’s inevitable hurdles?
Do you have favorite sayings or catch phrases you use again and again?

Some of mine are:

1. You are enough

It’s Sunday night, you’ve just had a great weekend with family and friends. You consider your mental list of things you hoped to accomplish for school Monday morning. You begin to feel disappointed with yourself: you should have done _____ .  AS a result tomorrow is going to be awful! You begin to lose perspective and react with plans to get up super early. In those moments remind yourself…you are enough.
Your enthusiasm, your love of the job, your empathy, and the hard work you have already invested are enough.

 2. Your mistakes are the stepping-stones for your learning journey

You are asked to present to the staff. You hate presenting in front of people but decide to take the opportunity and challenge yourself. The presentation day comes and you are ready. In fact you are over ready. The presentation goes great but you make one small mistake, unnoticed by all. You mentally “beat yourself up” over it and begin to re-frame the presentation as a failure.
Those mistakes, no matter how big or small, are the paving stones of your learning leading you forward.
Step on them boldly and proudly: you are a learner!

3. This too will pass

The bad day, the bad mood, the bad moment, even the bad week or month. It will pass, it will, look ahead and beyond.
Look out to the farthest horizon…it will pass.

4. Everyone has their bag of rocks

You are having the worst day, the worst luck, and the worst of everything. Remember to consider what are the challenges facing your students and your colleagues? Each has their own unique bag of rocks they carry. Instead of counting your rocks, consider which can you help them lose, which can you carry for them, and which can you pulverize into fine sand?
We each have our bag of rocks.

5. This is not about you

You are at the photocopier. A colleague comes along and starts in at you for not replacing the toner, fixing the jam or some other problem you did not cause.
Just know in that moment this is not about you. Look beyond you and into them.
This is not about you.

6. This does measure your efficacy 

The messy desk, the unwashed glassware (a science teacher’s nemesis), or the piece of equipment you did not put away… yet…again.
These do not measure your ability as a teacher, your connection with students. Don’t use them as such. Go back to #1.

7. You catch more bees with honey

When you start to get down on your students and begin to have a series of blaming thoughts: my students are lazy, my students don’t care etc. Remember you will always catch more bees with honey. Getting angry or frustrated with your students won’t fix the problem.
Inviting them in with a new positive frame might.
Bees like honey.

8.  You are bigger than this

In those moments when your ego comes out ready to fight, when you see your anger or frustration rising.
See the feeling and let it move through you.
You are bigger than this. You are.

9. This day is over. A new one begins tomorrow

As each day closes out, find “bubble bath” time to reflect on what went well and the challenge. Close the chapter on the day and look forward to starting the next day fresh.
The next day is new and ready for you to start again and anew.

10. Next time…

When you did paper mâché with the kids and the glue went everywhere; when a water fight broke out with the new spray bottles (and yes this did happen, next time I won’t say: Don’t use those spray bottles to spray each other!”); when you photocopy the test but leave out the last page; when the perfectly crafted explanation made no sense.
Think next time.
Next time...
you will know how to deal with this, next time you will be ready, next time you will change the tricky part of the activity.