Transforming Challenges into Growth Opportunities
Experience has taught me that mindfulness practices can help students become aware of their habits of mind. They can assess for themselves if their thoughts are imbued with the tone of a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. If students have strategies to help them cope with challenges, anxiety, fear and self-doubt then they are more likely to remain resilient and engaged in the learning process. Without such strategies, students often shut down or tune out. Students gain a sense of inner strength when they learn to work with challenging moments/experiences that first seem debilitating but then lead toward tremendous growth. I've had students seek me out to tell me they used some of the strategies I taught them on an exam, at a gymnastics meet, a piano recital or before a presentation. Weaving the Mighty Ms together has helped me achieve my goal as an educator. The Mights Ms act as a scaffold, which enables students to strengthen their resilience as they tap into their potential and pursue their aspirations.
The term mindset was coined by Carol S. Dweck, a world-renowned psychologist from Stanford University. She has extensively studied how two different mindsets, a fixed mindset or a growth mindset, can affect one's ability to achieve success. Those with a fixed mindset believe their intelligence and talents are fixed traits. As a result, their self-esteem is constantly fluctuating because they feel their sense of self is based on results and praise. Those with a fixed mindset often shy away from challenges because they don't want to make a mistake or risk losing. Whereas, those with a growth mindset believe that one's abilities can be developed through consistent effort. They are more willing to embrace challenges and are intrinsically motivated to overcome obstacles. They display more grit and have a love for learning. Reading Dweck's book Self-Theories was a game-changer in my life, and I highly recommend it!
I define mindfulness as bringing a kind, curious and nonjudgmental attention to our moment-to-moment experiences. Mindfulness has also been described as two wings of a bird - awareness and compassion. What am I observing? And, how can I be with it? In other words, how can I be with feelings such as anger, frustration, anxiety etc. without inadvertently causing myself more stress and suffering?
Metacognition is defined as the ability to become aware of one's own thought process. I believe metacognition and mindfulness are intrinsically related to one another. Mindfulness meditation provides a structure to help us observe our thoughts, which then gives us the ability to understand the workings of our minds.
Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your character,
Your character becomes your destiny.
- Mahatma Gandhi
“Parents think they can hand children permanent confidence – like a gift – by praising their brains and talent. It doesn’t work, and in fact has the opposite effect. It makes children doubt themselves as soon as anything is hard or anything goes wrong. If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.”
- Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success