For Teachers: Embrace Life’s Change With Resiliency
There are a few things in life that are certain: paying taxes and change. You can’t escape change (or taxes) no matter how hard you try. Change is inevitable, it happens with or without our consent.
Change isn’t always a bad thing!
As educators, we see change every day with our students and with many things in our lives – and we encourage it. Learning itself requires change: change of how one perceives something, how one addresses a problem, and ultimately how one views his or her ability to do something. However, it is when change happens unexpectedly or feels as though it is out of our control that we resist or fear it.
How should we think about change?
Learning how to cope with change will only build one’s resilience and can help lower your risk for anxiety and depression. By doing so, you open yourself up to having stronger relationships, a healthier self both mentally and physically, and also help yourself adapt quicker to changes down the road.
How you approach change will influence how you’ll deal with it. Try a couple of the following techniques to help increase your level of resilience and ability to cope with change.
Accept what is and isn’t in your control
Evaluating your level of control of certain situations can be a great reset. It’s easy to get fixated on life events in which we have no power over, or when people do things that don’t fit our perception of how they should or shouldn’t have behaved. But this doesn’t do much for our overall well-being. Building resiliency takes understanding what is in and out of our control, rather than taking the easy way out of blaming others or trying to move the unmovable.
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”– Reinhold Niebuhr
Embrace a growth mindset
Adopting a growth mindset allows you to embrace challenges that come at you, helps you to learn from criticism, and allows you to find lessons in whatever life throws at you. Try a couple of different thought tweaks for starters:
- Instead of “I’m not good at this,” try thinking, “I can figure this out.”
- Instead of “I give up,” try, “I am going to try a different strategy.”
- Instead of “This is too hard,” try, “This might take some time to solve.”
- Instead of “I made a mistake,” try, “Mistakes lead to learning.”
- Instead of “I can’t do this,” try, “I am going to train my brain to do something new.”
When you hear your students make statements that reflect a fixed mindset, look to rephrase their statements by praising the effort rather than the outcome. Help your students further by letting them reflect and recognize their own perseverance with the My Superpowers Student Activity.
Often with change, it is easy to only see the world through black and white. But the world is full of color. Putting your thought patterns into check and examining how you’re going about something can help to uncover a missing opportunity – an opportunity to look at something from a different angle. If you find that your thought patterns are leaning more negative, remind yourself of how you successfully navigated through past challenges or unknowns. Focus on what traits or behaviors helped you to weather the storm prior, and recognize those as your own strengths.
Learn how to reflect and prioritize
Change can evoke a time to reflect and determine what our priorities are in life. Look, you only have so many hours in a day, how do you want to spend that time? Ask yourself, what is important to me right now? How does this current situation change provide me an opportunity to focus on my priorities, or do I need to re-evaluate? Be honest with yourself. Is there something that you are doing that might be a waste of time when it comes to achieving your goals? And remember, focus on what is within your control, not what isn’t.
Don’t forget, although life is guaranteed to have changes, those changes don’t have to happen in isolation. And it doesn’t mean you have to withstand an unexpected event or go about a new transition on your own. We don’t expect our students to learn something new without asking for help, nor should we. Looking for support from others can help build up that resiliency and help to embrace change better.
Brisa Ayub is the Senior Global Director of Marketing at Wonder Workshop where she creates educational programs directed at bringing coding, robotics, and creative problem-solving to educators and students. She has a history of creating educational content and award-winning programs and games that have been implemented in schools across the United States and globally as the former Director of Educational Programs at Common Sense Media. Brisa earned her graduate degree in psychology and has worked with adolescents and young adults around addictive behaviors prior to the edtech space.