Sunday, September 25, 2016
This semester of teaching is going by so fast. Part of this fastness perception was trying to get my college teaching classes off to a good start while ending a quarter of my dissertation work. With the dissertation it was a Summer quarter of trying to gain final approval on my research. There were items out of my control giving me grief and stress so it was hard to keep a positive front to my college students with my own educational stress was making my self-talk want to throw in the towel.
Thankfully as the quarter ended I did finally gain full approval for my research. So in the near future I hope to run my research study. So I realized I need to keep a mindset of growth to keep on going on the dissertation marathon.
Early on in each semester I go over in my college success courses the importance of Mindset based on the work of Dr. Carol Dweck. I was grateful this year in our pre-semester adjunct professor training to be affirmed in emphasizing this to students. At our training this year the guest speaker was Dr. Janet Nay Zadina. She was a former teacher and now an educational neuroscientist. I have gone to these mandatory training for years and she was the most noteworthy presenter I have heard. Listening to her I could feel her passion for education. She was not there to just pick up a speaker’s paycheck. Instead she wanted to instill the importance of helping college students grow in successful ways.
I was lucky in the drawing at the final morning session as I won a copy of her book, Multiple Pathways to the Student Brain and the corresponding workbook. It is an effective resource for educators on best practices to help students learn based on the most recent neuroscience research.
The most important aspect from her session and in her book for me was the emphasis on encouraging students to understand growth versus fixed mindset early in the school year or semester. Dr. Zadina pointed out that the growth mindset allows the student to break free from the fixed thinking of “I just can’t do it” or “That’s not the way I am”. Often those students struggling with math or writing will say statements like that which become self-fulfilling prophecies in math and English courses. Or the student that does poorly in Speech will say “I can’t speak in public”.
When students understand the growth mindset that they have the ability to grow in every area of their lives it frees them up from the negativity. This then allows them to obtain better abilities in all areas of academics as well as other areas of life.
Another area in the book and her presentation that stood out to me was the need to emphasize positive emotions. So many struggling students are bound up by negative beliefs and a victim mentality. By emphasizing positive emotions such as gratitude, confidence, enthusiasm, inspiration and awe they often can move in a positive direction in re-framing their mindset about their possible success in their academics in college.
As a therapist as well, I see many personal problems are caused by people being bound up by negative emotions such as frustration, jealousy, despair and envy. When they move over to a habit of allowing positive emotions control their lives they are more likely to overcome problems such as anxiety and depression.
I had to deal with this myself as I was frustrated with gaining research approval so I could move forward with my dissertation. It is easy to let negativity and the “maybe I should give up mentality” take over. But I did not give into that and kept pressing on and finally approval came. Granted too late to do the research this semester on my time line. Overlooking that, I simply created a new timeline starting with the January semester. So I will keep on with my dissertation marathon and continue to encourage my college students to focus on growth in their lives as well.
Reflection: Examine your reactions to life – are you guided more by negative emotions or positive emotions? How can you build up your positive emotions more in your daily life?