One the most common challenges in teaching classes of any kind is being faced with a group of students who can differ greatly in their background knowledge and ability level. The natural tendency when this happens is to teach to the middle of the class – which can leave your more advanced students feeling bored and your struggling students feeling overwhelmed on occasion.
If you build scaffolding and extension activities into your lesson plan you can keep your higher level students engaged and prevent your lower level students from becoming overwhelmed. It’s a lot more prep work when planning a class or workshop but it’s worth it to take the extra time going in.
Today’s “Just for Inspiration” is the freedom-giving idea of taking a social media break. Often times, Facebook and other forms of social media can be used as a form of numbing. If your online life is taking you away from the present moment or you find yourself still checking social media even when you are with the people you follow on social media, then you may want to take some time off just to re-engage your non-online world.
Numbing (n.) – Numbing is a way of running away from the pain, boredom, or discomfort of the present moment. Almost anything can be used to numb. Often times, when people think of numbing out, they bring up things such as alcohol, drugs, smoking, sex, pornography, television, video games, and cell phones. But, people often don’t realize that things like meditation, exercise, creating art, and even reading can be used to numb.
Today’s virtue is embodied in the word "good." The near enemy to good is a word that holds a lot of overt forms of behavioral control. The near enemy to good is “nice.” When assertiveness comes up in class, it is an excellent time to go over the difference between good and nice.
Good allows for authenticity while the term nice comes with a whole set of rules and expectations. Nice puts limitations on what you’re allowed to say or even when you're allowed to say it. It says it’s better to just go along to get along and to act differently on the outside than what you feel on the inside.
Last week’s skill building post had you start noticing the stories and meanings you add on top of the events in your life. You did this to begin really seeing the separation between what occurs and what you think about what occurs. “It’s not so much what happens to you but how you interpret it that matters,” is the old maxim that applies here.
This week is about expanding out and seeing all the different beliefs that come along with your own very personal interpretation of the world around you.
Today’s distortion highlights all those times when your mind faces a difficulty and then goes from zero to “it’s the end of the world as we know it.” Catastrophizing makes mountains out of molehills. It takes the smallest things and blows them way out of proportion. Every little thing becomes a sign that your deepest fears will surely manifest.
Suppose you need to make sure students memorize the order the significant events occurred during the Civil War along with the significant items associated to each event. The old school way of doing this would be through lecture, students taking notes, maybe they would study, and then you would test the next day to make sure they had the information memorized. One modern way, particularly in a flipped classroom setting, would be to do wall or table races to help ensure longer retention, speed up the learning process, make learning fun, and to help the students engage with each other during class rather than just with the instructor.
Emotional Anchor (n.) -- A past resentment, negative condition, un-let-go-of issue, or damage caused by another person that keeps someone stuck in the past and feeling like they are unable to move forward. People can often not realize they have dropped an anchor until they experience long periods where forward movement should be occurring but nothing is happening – not even movement underneath the surface
There is what happens to you and then there are the stories you tell yourself about what happens to you. You have a natural tendency to want to assign meaning to the events in your life. How you define what happens to you can often be even more important than what actually happens.
The stories or meanings you assign to life's events are what determine your future actions and even how you see yourself. They create the lens through which you see your world. You create these stories for yourself and even for other people when they share their life experiences with you.
Blaming, as a distortion in thinking, shifts responsibility in ways that are simply not helpful to resolving the situation at hand. Blaming makes one person wrong and someone else right. It often creates a false victim and a false villain when the responsibility for the negative situation is something that should be shared. And, in the moments when there truly is a victim and a perpetrator, it often places fault with the victim as opposed to the person actually causing harm to the other person.
My Writing and Other Resources for Students
A growing collection of writing and other resources for students to use to continue their growth.