Why Mindset is Important for Teachers
Car keys, laptop, marking, lunch, folders, wallet, handbag, glasses, phone… check, check, check… and if you’ve forgotten them then it’s often a mad, curse-filled dash to get them.
Why? Because we need them, of course. And if we arrive somewhere without the ‘essentials’ then we’re aware of it all day. But when was the time you checked to see if you have the right mindset?
We often check that we have the material things that help us get through the day, but how many of us check that we are in the most useful frame of mind to navigate the same day? And how many check that mindset throughout the day and reset it if necessary?
How many people simply allow their mood to be influenced by situations and circumstances? You know those people, perhaps you’re one of them. You can hear it in their everyday conversation:
“Aargh! That person really winds me up.”
“I hate Mondays… ”
“This person has really peed me off.”
“Do you know what that person did? I’m so annoyed.”
And so on and so forth. Their mood is always in the hands of something, or someone, else.
Why should we pay attention to our mindset?
So why, as an educator, should you notice your mindset? Why do you need to be in the right mindset? Well, let’s consider what happens when you aren’t in the best one, and what the impact of that could be.
Imagine the ripple effect caused by a pebble dropped in a pond. Now imagine that pebble is the wrong mindset. As a result, you might find:
- Your mood is low
- You aren’t as welcoming
- You come across as grumpy
- You set an instant atmosphere
- Every little thing seems to annoy you
- Your connection and rapport is virtually non-existent
- Your teaching isn’t as effective
- Students’ learning is poor
- Students’ behaviour seems worse
- The lesson objective isn’t achieved
- The whole lesson is a nightmare
- You start to doubt your skills
- Your confidence takes a battering
- You question your abilities
- You wonder why you became a teacher in the first place
- You think about jacking it all in
…and each of the individual ripples above set off their own ripple effect. And it’s only P1 on a Monday.
As for the impact on your colleagues when you find yourself in in wrong mindset, you only need to think about how you feel when one of your colleagues is in a negative mindset. I’m sure you can remember at least one occasion when this has happened, or perhaps you have one colleague who seems to be permanently in the wrong mindset. Flip it around and well, that’s likely the impact you have on them too.
How can we change our mindset?
The truth is that we all have choice in how we feel. Imagine exercising that choice freely.
And no, this isn’t about sitting in the corner crossed-legged while you hum a calming mantra. It’s about making a conscious choice about realising the mood or frame of mind you are in, working out if it’s the most useful one for you, and if not, choosing to change it.
There are many moods and states of mind available to us, not just the most cited two of “positive” and “negative”.
We can be stubborn, grumpy, angry, annoyed, slightly miffed, CBA, focused, strong, resilient, dedicated, motivated, and hundreds more that I’m sure you could name.
The key is not just knowing that the mood / state of mind you are in isn’t right for you. The key is knowing the mood / state of mind you want to move towards, the one that’s best for you, and then getting yourself in it.
The best way to do this is to pay attention to the space, person, or activity that helps you to change your mood to a better, more resourceful one.
Raised awareness is key to change. Rather than just rumbling along in the same mood, or having a unhelpful mood increase in intensity, stop and check in with yourself. Bring your awareness to your current mindset, check it’s the best one, and if not decide which one you want to be instead.
A great technique to start to do this is to have something that you can think about, touch, read, remember, look at, or hum in your head if necessary. This could be anything (genuinely, anything) that you know puts you in a better mood. It could be a person, so if you have the time and it’s practical, go and find them.
In technical terms, this is known as an “anchor.” It’s something that you connect and associate with that is guaranteed to change your mindset to a more positive one. If you aren’t sure what your anchors are, start journaling when you’re in a good mood so you can look back on what happened or what you did to get you there.
Learn the right skills, and you’ll be able to change your mindset in seconds (literally), on the spot, right where you stand.
Being in “a right state”
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, or may have even used it yourself when describing someone’s mood: “They were / are in a right state.”
But were they? Are they?
More often than not, that sentence is used to describe someone who is far from being in the “right state” and who are in fact in the wrong state… of mind.
We are human, and as such all of us have moods, mindsets, and states of mind that we fluctuate and cycle through. Sometimes on a daily or even hourly basis.
Remember: your mindset isn’t actually “set” at all. Quite the opposite. It’s very fluid and dynamic. The state of mind you find yourself in at any given moment is not the one you have to stay in. You can always access another one, at any time.
With the right coaching and the right tools, you can reach a point where you naturally access the best one for you on a regular and consistent basis. And think about it… what could happen when you do?
David Jessop has been a self-employed Success and Life Strategist since 2002, and before that had 20 years of corporate experience. Since 2004, David has worked primarily within the Education Sector, in particular with young people and staff in schools, colleges and universities. David’s work focuses on helping them get clear on what they want and why they want it, then teaching the skills, tools and techniques not just for academic success but for life balance. David is available for 1-1 Coaching, Workshops, assemblies, seminars and Keynotes.