3 Steps for Creating Positive Change in the Classroom

Portrait of two schoolgirls looking at the laptop during lesson

As educators, we often get caught up in the day-to-day occurrences in our life, failing to take time to stop, notice and respond to the situation in front of us. We find ourselves ruminating over the frustrations and annoyances of the past, and become easily overwhelmed from the continual worrying and anticipation of what may come. Reacting to our present moment, ruminating over the past and worrying about the future only creates internal stress. It also keeps us trapped in the cycle of stress (both personally at home and professionally in our classrooms). 

Essentially, our energy and attention continue to be focused on the negative aspects of our life — the things that we don’t want. However, when we begin to direct our attention to what we do want, we begin to shift the tide. We can do this by noticing and acknowledging where we are (our present state), and choosing the state we desire. We can accomplish this by setting our intention. When we act with intention, we are able to redirect the flow of energy to literally create what we want in our daily life. This is called creating our own sense of ease and getting into the vortex of positive energy. 

It is essential that we, as educators, learn to create this for ourselves. To help, we’ve outlined three steps educators can take to take control of their situation and act with intention.

Step 1: Awareness

Recognize how you are emotionally showing up today. Investigate what you are actually feeling and see if you can name the emotion. Are you frustrated? Grateful? Angry? Relaxed? Be honest with yourself and recognize that there is no right or wrong way of feeling. There is science behind this process; when you can name your emotion (with some level of accuracy), you actually tame that emotion so it does not have such a tight grip on you. Here is a graphic you can share with your students to help build their emotional vocabulary.

List some of the thoughts swirling through your head at the present moment. Maybe you are thinking about something that happened earlier in the day, or about something that will be happening in the future. Or, perhaps you are wondering if you handed off the correct lunchbox to the appropriate kid this morning, or what your class is doing right now. Find a pen and paper, and jot down those thoughts. Consider this to be a “brain dump.” Whatever is swirling up there in your head, simply write it down. Get it out.

Step 2: Dreams and Desires

On that same piece of paper, write down all the ways you would choose to feel today, if you had a magic wand. Take it step further if you are feeling in the flow and write down a few things you would like to see or experience today as well. 

Perhaps you wish to see your students being fully engaged in learning today? Getting along with each other? Getting along with you? Do you desire having your day flow with ease and joy? Just imagine what you want in your mind for a moment or two and then write this dream day down with as much specifics as you can.  

Step 3: Set it in motion

Believe it or not, there is scientific proof that when you imagine yourself in a new situation, conversation, or experience, and you allow yourself to feel what it would be like to have that be your reality, you actually set that in motion for it to become your reality. This is what we call purposeful creation and living with intention. Most of us live by default. We simply react to what shows up rather than recognize that we are always creating what shows up. It is all about where we let our attention shift and the emotions we continue to experience. 

Here is another way to remember this: Our thoughts and emotions create our everyday reality.

When you build awareness of where you tend to “lean” in regards to your thoughts and emotions, and then learn how to take responsibility for both, you begin to take control of your life, your classroom, your relationships…really everything.

The most important takeaway we hope you receive from reading this is that you have the power to respond to difficult situations with intention, which has a trickle effect on your overall well-being and that of your students. For more mindfulness practices to implement in your life and classroom, please visit zenationalkids.com and follow us on social media.