Perspective, Mindset, Reshaping Experiences

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This week, summer came to an abrupt halt and routine came back in full force. School began, and along with that, hockey started, too. I now have two boys playing hockey, and the twins who just turned four will be starting skating lessons later this month. Between hockey camps, IP skates, and tryouts, it’s safe to say that we went from 0 to 100 when considering unstructured days of the summer and the businesses that activities bring on in this family. This weekend alone, we had five ice times, but I’ve never seen my boys so excited to get back on the ice! Yesterday, while coming home from hockey, Caden and Emmett asked daddy why he doesn’t coach them… it was one of those moments that fill your parent heart with guilt and puts a big lump in your throat. My husband could have very well explained the logic, the reasoning and how it was next to impossible for him to coach while we have 4 young boys, which would leave me scrambling even more than I already do. It isn’t surprising thought, that this isn’t the route that he went down. You see, one of the biggest reasons I love and cherish my husband is because he really is the world’s greatest dad. He always knows just what to say to shift perspective, adjust mindsets, and reshape experiences. His response was brilliant, and instead of leaving the boys feeling sad that daddy wasn’t coaching, it left them feeling excited and super-duper special.

“I am your skills coach.”

Chris went on to explain that NHL players all have individual skills coaches. Coaches that help them practice specific skills based on where they’re at. Their own personal coach that watches them, and just them, in order to help them improve. Chris plays countless hours of hockey with them, in the basement, on the street, on our backyard rink. He watches them so intently while they practice and while they play games and he talks to them about it after every ice time. He picks up on little nuances to help them become better. He is their biggest cheerleader, biggest supporter, and number one fan!

As this was happening, it imminently made me think of a story that Dave Burgess shared in his book, “Teach Like a Pirate” of when his then 5 or 6 year old son got a heart bracelet as a prize from a gum-ball type vending machine. Just like my husband reframed the experience for my boys, Dave also did by excitedly exclaiming that his son had gotten a “PIRATE TREASURE”!!

As parents, we are constantly using the power of reframing to our advantage. “Race ya upstairs to brush your teeth”, “who can get their PJs on first?”, “you can’t clean up all these toys in 5 minutes, only big boys can do that”. As teachers, it is also crucial that we use reframing in our classrooms. Experiences shape us, and I want to do everything that I can to make sure that my students are having incredible experiences that they will remember for a long time. Simply changing their perspective or mindset can do wonders in shifting their experiences.

Just last week, on the first day of school, I noticed a student standing by her mom in the morning before the bell had even rung. She was clearly nervous and anxious, and mom signaled to me that she was on the verge of tears. Without hesitation, I made my way over to her, got down to her level, and talked to her about how excited I was for the day and to have HER in my class. I told her I would be by her side all day and that it was normal to feel nervous. I asked her if she’d like to hold my hand, and as she nodded yes, I told her to say goodbye to mom and to come with me to join other students who had huddled together. She said bye to her mom, and without shedding a tear, she thrived through her first day as a first grader. At the end of the day, after everyone had left, the mom whispered the most beautiful message in my ear about what those actions that morning had meant for her, and for her daughter. I had never thought twice about it, after all, I know that relationships are the foundation, so I just did what any caring and loving teacher would do; I reshaped that important moment in that student’s world. What a powerful reminder it was for me that those little moments matter more than we’ll ever know.

On a more humorous note, another great example can be found in the scene in the movie “Billy Madison” where Adam Sandler reframes a rather embarrassing situation for a student:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FElfV-2H5vU&w=560&h=315]

Reframing is a powerful act! Dave reminds us that

“Sometimes the most important thing we do as teachers is to take subjects, which to a lot of our students starts as the equivalent of little heart bracelets, and by using passion, enthusiasm, powerful presentations, and creativity, turn it into pirate treasure.”

How might you shift perspective, adjust mindsets, and reshape experiences to create pirate treasures in your classroom? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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