Monday, February 11, 2013

Changing Your Mindset

We tend to qualify ourselves with absolutes, 
claiming that we are good at this, but not at that, 
as if there is no room for change or growth.

How many times have I heard teachers in one of my trainings say, “I am not very good with technology?”  Too many to count. They usually say this as if it is a crime or as if they are somehow a lesser person or teacher.

Actually, I admire these teachers the most. They are working on a skill that they feel uncomfortable with, putting themselves out there in a vulnerable way. These teachers are keeping an open mind about their own learning.

Sometimes, however, I wonder if we all tend to pigeonhole or label ourselves, making statements that sell ourselves short. We’ve all heard or made statements such as, “I can’t even boil water!” or “I don’t know a hammer from a nail!” We tend to qualify ourselves with absolutes, claiming that we are good at this, but not at that, as if there is no room for change or growth.

In my role as a trainer I am constantly confronted with a self-limiting mindset in teachers, yet I am convinced that these are mindsets that can be overcome through effort and slow, steady progress.  This has motivated me to reflect on my own mindsets and test my own view of myself. One mindset that I have had for myself has been, “I can’t even sew a button on a shirt.” I have always viewed myself as far away from crafty as one can be. Recently, though, I’ve decided to learn to knit, which I consider being the “high end” of crafty.

Enviously, I have watched my friends whip out beautiful scarves and hats from a ball of yarn. I have been amazed at how they can really understand what they are looking at when they knit. I see a bunch of strings and have no idea how those needles pulling the yarn this way and that can create something other than a big knot. When I have sewn on a button, it has always resulted in a tangled mess on the backside of the button, so I know what that looks like!

I recently purchased my first set of knitting needles and a ball of yarn. A friend helped me start and sat with me as I clumsily learned the basics, but I’m doing it!  Naturally, there are several holes in my first scarf (see below), but with the patient, gentle support of my knitting teacher I began to feel more self-assured.

As I gained confidence, I began to question the mindset I had held for all of my adult life. Where did that absolute statement I had held all of the years come from? Was it a time when I made a mistake in sewing early-on that created that mindset? It makes me wonder what creates self-doubt.

What I am learning about my personal knitting challenge is that when teachers come to my trainings and confess up front that they are not comfortable with technology, I need to be like my knitting teacher, providing patient, gentle support and encouraging words. I want them to leave feeling like they can to do it. I want them to have a Rocky moment!

In the meantime, I’ll keep working on my knitting. I will make mistakes and there will be holes, but I will not give up. I will not let my previous mindset get in the way of my potential as a knitter! Hey, maybe I will try sewing on a button!

Here's the beginning of my new mindset!

           How can you change your   mindset?


Submitted by Jean Monroe, Technology Teacher Trainer

 "Rocky" Picture Source

1 comment:

  1. I try to do or learn something new every day! Sometimes it scares me. Often it scares my teammates. But you are right; those who struggle, learn the most! I admire teachers who try. Effort makes all the difference!