It is easy to focus on the challenges of returning to school, which cumulatively can become a bit overwhelming. As teachers, we typically experience some level of uncertainty at the start of each school year. While this school year has had its unique challenges, there are still some consistent strategies we can use to embrace the start of the year and persist in the face of any setbacks. Recently, educators have touted the positive effects of implementing restorative practices and the growth mindset with their students and colleagues. Let us explore some of the strategies to effectively incorporate restorative practices and healthy, growing mindsets.
As human beings, our brains are set up to focus on what we are unable to do, or things that are too challenging to complete. This phenomenon is known as the fixed mindset. To combat this thinking, you can support students to embrace a growth mindset by incorporating specific activities designed to engage the mind and quiet stressors. For example, you can celebrate the success of others, learn from criticism or recognize that we all make errors. As a teacher, you can model metacognitive thinking by sharing your thoughts when you make a mistake. You can discuss the process you went through to share lessons and inspiration that can lead you to later success.
You can help students regulate their emotions and stress by integrating some resources for them in your classroom. Some examples can be a quiet corner, square breathing, random acts of kindness, listening with headphones, squeezing stress balls, drinking water and positive self-talk. You can even demonstrate regulation strategies yourself on a day-to-day basis and utilize these strategies with your students as you model how to cope. This transparency demonstrates that it is okay to have these feelings and normalize the feelings of stress and emotion.
When students are not meeting your expectations, it can be easy to become overwhelmed. You can implement a strategy called Connect Before Correct. This strategy emphasizes building a strong relationship with your students and models using specific language relevant to this situation. For example, if a student is struggling to complete their work, you could say, “I’m noticing that you are having a hard time today concentrating on your work, tell me what is going on. What do you need to get your work completed?” Another way to use restorative language is to implement affective statements. For example, a student may be constantly interrupting their neighbor in the classroom. You could say, “I feel sad when you interrupt your neighbor. What I’d like to see is you helping your neighbor instead.”
When you use these strategies throughout the school year, your students are more likely to exhibit a growth mindset and engage in using restorative language with you and the other students; as well as their family members.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.