Some people think optimism is an inherent trait. There are optimists in this world and there are pessimists. But what if you could teach optimism? Wouldn’t that be a great trait to instill in our students and young ones. Angela C. Santomero beleives we can do just that.
“The skills needed to learn optimism are similar to those required for resolving conflicts. Both begin with a problem and both call for looking at the problem in an active, positive way. The difference is that in the case of learned optimism, we want to help our children learn to recognize the thoughts that are creating their inner monologue. Because it’s this inner monologue that we want to change or strengthen to be more optimistic.”
That is a passage from her excellent book, Preschool Clues. It shows that we can help model a positive interior monologue.
This is something I have done in the classroom countless times. I often work through a problem in my head and think about how I can solve it. I talk my way through the steps involved and model it on the board for the students to see. It’s a way to make thinking visible.
Santomero talks about why this is so important for us to choose out words and tone carefully.
“Like it or not, it’s our voice and the words we say to our children that will form the foundation of their inner monologue. And that very same inner monologue will ultimately become their guiding force as they move away from us and into the world beyond. It’s a voice they ‘ll hear in a tough situation or when facing a challenging decision. It’s the voice that will shape how they perceive themselves during the tween and teen years and beyond, as they think about their weaknesses, strengths, and capabilities. That’s why it’s so important that our voice is positive, kind, and keeps them safe by helping them make good choices. But above all, we want to do what we can to ensure their inner voice is an optimist.”
Hopefully, as teachers, especially in the early years of primary education, we can have an positive impact on our students.
“In order to help give our preschoolers an inner voice that is realistic, positive, and empathetic, we need to model it ourselves. That is what I love so much about preschoolers-they are there, listening to us, with an open mind and an open heart, taking everything in.”
Some of our students might not have an open heart when it comes to what we say, but they are taking everything in, especially what we do and how we act. While many of us don’t teach preschoolers, I think the advice given in this book is good for teachers of any age group.
Teaching Tip Tuesday – weekly inspiration from my classroom to yours