When was the last time you “wiped out”…and talked about it?

 

I can be incredibly clumsy. Anyone who is around me long enough knows I’m bound to run into something, fall off something, trip over something, or drop something. I’ve learned to embrace this aspect of myself and brush off the dust and ignore the bumps. I recently fell off my bike (ok…I fell off twice) – and while neither fall was serious or even stick-fallingwitnessed by many others….it was still horribly embarrassing. Getting back up on the bike still required a couple deep breaths and some inward self coaching. Other kinds of mistakes and failure (professional, relational, etc.) are no less comfortable, and they certainly aren’t welcome to the extent that I would willingly seek them out.

There are numerous articles citing abundant research about the growth mindset and the benefits gained when children make mistakes and experience failure. Research shows that when children are raised in reflective, supportive environments (at home and at school) they develop resilience and learn to view these challenges as learning opportunities. A recent article from Time called “Why Every Parent Should Suffer a Total Wipeout” goes a step farther by illuminating how little we may practice what we preach in a way that is transparent for children. Though the article is written with parents in mind, it’s not difficult to extend the message to teachers and any adults that interact with children in a nurturing capacity.

Do we recognize and appreciate the difficulty of what we are asking children to do when we urge them to persevere, try again, and keep their chin up? Do we empathize with how emotionally and physically exhausting it is to keep picking yourself up (literally or metaphorically) and throwing yourself into something again? Even if that thing is something you desperately love and want to improve at? How often do we truly try something that we have no idea how to do as adults? The author’s own experience of trying something new and finding it extremely difficult, watching others (even her own children) succeed more quickly around her, and needing to push through challenging emotions was a powerful opportunity for her to grow empathy for what we ask children to experience on a daily basis. Most, if not all, of their days involve encountering something completely new (a new math skill, book, idea, friend, game, conflict resolution skill, sport, and more). We ask them to try….and try again! We ask them to trust us that with trying and with time they will grow. We know this to be true…..but what if we also SHOWED them how it’s true for us as well?

When we’ve learned so much and spent so much of our lives trying, failing forward, and developing our skills, talents, and passions….it’s easier to stick to what we’re already good at and comfortable with than it is to try something completely new. But what is lost if our children and students never have a confident, articulate model to show them the healthy way through failure and challenge? What is the cost if we leave them with the false idea that perseverance is something only children need and failure when trying something new is only something kids encounter?

Big Ideas, Big Discussion

“Big ideas deserve and require big discussion…Let’s have the grit to NOT swallow a great-sounding idea without beating it up a bit, and let’s be thankful that we have the slack in our lives to be thoughtful educators.” – Grant Lichtman

The call for fostering children who are resilient and approach real-world challenges in their learning and in their lives with “grit” has been charging through the worlds of educational leadership, parenting, and child development. Read Does ‘Grit’ Need Deeper Discussion? by author Grant Lichtman, as well as the valuable resources linked within his post, for some additional thought-provoking fodder on the topic. His reflections remind us to pursue reflection, innovation, and reform – but not without doing the hard and important work of examining closely and inquisitively multiple perspectives.

This one is for celebrating each second…

Every year the Banff Mountain Film Festival travels to a nearby theater for two nights of mountain-adventure themed films that always leave me creatively inspired, hungry for movement outdoors, and primed to soak up more of the marrow from my days. This short five-minute video shown last night is a particularly captivating narrative on taking hold of the moment, on refusing to let schedules and devices and to-do lists (though necessary and real parts of our worlds) pre-determine our levels of happiness and connection.

I refuse to believe that joy costs something.

Or that we have to get on a plane to find it.

Or that it has to happen on our vacation.

Or that dreams can’t come true on a Tuesday.

My heroes…are those who discover that inside we are all capable of surprising ourselves. –Brendan Leonard

Feeling stressed?

Listen to Kelly McGonigal (a health psychologist) share research studies that are changing the way scientists think about stress, it’s impact on the body, and how our mindset about stress in our lives makes a profound physiological and pyschological difference.

“The harmful effects of stress on your health are not inevitable. How you think and how you act transform your experience of stress. When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. When you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience…Stress gives us access to our hearts, the compassionate heart that finds joy and meaning in connecting with others and yes, your pounding physical heart working so hard to give you strength and energy. When you choose to view stress in this way you’re not just getting better at stress, you’re actually making a pretty profound statement. You’re saying you can trust yourself to handle life’s challenges and you’re remembering you don’t have to face them alone.– Kelly McGonigal

You Have To Go Down The Chute

One of my favorite experiences each year is watching students on the ski slopes during Tuxedo Park School’s annual ski program for students in grades 3-9. From the beginners to the experts, students sharing laughter and movement together on the downhill is the perfect antidote to winter doldrums. This is a brief (1:49) ski-and-student-related video that will remind you of the courage it takes to try new things, and the exhilaration that comes from conquering fear of the unknown. Here’s to all the students and adults out there who take the risk….and jump. As Tina Fey writes,

You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.

The Art of Boredom: Don’t Just Do Something…Sit There!

In his compelling blog post titled “The 21st Century Skills Students Really LackDaniel Willingham, cognitive scientist who focuses on the brain basis of learning and memory, writes:

If we are concerned that students today are too quick to allow their attention to be yanked to the brightest object (or to willfully redirect it once their very low threshold of boredom is surpassed), we need to consider ways that we can bring home to them the potential reward of sustained attention.

Willingham argues that attention disorders may not be on the rise, rather…the need for and valuation of sustained attention in our culture may be on a dramatic decline. As digital natives (a term coined by Marc Prensky) – students can largely avoid the experience of even mild boredom in their daily lives…but also miss out on some of the rewards of patience, perseverance, and waiting it out.

How do we, instead of trying to wrest attention from the disengaged, inspire it through a little healthy boredom that has powerful rewards?