With the start of a new school year fast approaching (at least in Arizona), I wanted to take a moment to address a critical skill that most students fail to practice. It’s called mindset and believe it or not, it’s equally important to student success as the letter grades they will receive at the end of the first quarter.
Parents, you know the drill. The first few weeks of school, otherwise known as the honeymoon period, are relatively painless for your child as they celebrate the opportunity to be around their friends and the workload is manageable. Unfortunately, in the weeks that follow, it might be common for your child to return home each day complaining about a certain class or teacher and how things just aren’t fair. This is where the power of mindset can literally change their entire experience of school.
Below is a letter I’ve written for a pre-teen and teen audience. I invite you to share it with anyone who you think might benefit.
Dear Student Extraordinaire,
Whether you are ready for it or not, a new school year is upon us. The desks are polished, the carpets are cleaned, the pencils are sharpened, and the chairs sit empty, waiting for you to occupy them on that first day.
By the time you read this letter, you may already know your class schedule and/or your assigned teacher(s). You might even find yourself dreading the one class or teacher that everyone has warned you about.
“Oh, that class is so boring.”
“He/she lectures all of the time and is so unfair.”
“You are going to hate that class. I am so glad I’m done with it.”
These are just a few of the statements that may be fighting for space in your mind as the first day of school draws near. Despite the fact that you know these are simply OPO’s (Other People’s Opinions), you can’t help but wonder if they really are true.
I have something I want to share with you that may just cause you to have the happiest school year yet. Are you ready?
The classes you take and the teachers who teach them DO NOT determine your levels of happiness. Your mindset DOES.
Let me explain.
It’s common for students to ride what I call the emotional roller coaster throughout the year. Depending on their interest in a particular class or teacher, their emotions can either be empowering or not. Take for example, the class that your friend has warned you is extremely boring. Chances are, the moment you walk into that class you will prepare yourself for boredom and look for all sorts of reasons to prove that it actually is boring. Guess what? The class itself is NOT boring. Boredom is always a product of our thinking. Having said this, you really have two choices.
1. Spend each day being bored and blame the teacher or class for your mood.
2. Change the way you think about the teacher or class and take ownership of your mood.
If you’re looking for the easy route, you are welcome to blame the teacher or class. However, despite your best efforts, blaming will never change anything. If you’re looking to be happy, I invite you to be curious and creative about the way you see this experience.
Here are some examples.
“This class is teaching me the importance of patience.”
“My teacher may not be teaching the way I would, but the information they are sharing is valuable to me.”
“When I walk into this class, I’m going to choose an attitude of gratitude.”
The choice is yours. Your thoughts can literally change your experience with regard to school. Don’t let school dictate your emotions. You have the power to do this yourself.
Here’s to your happiest school year yet.
Mike Sissel — former teenager
• Mike Sissel is a former Kyrene teacher who now owns and operates a youth leadership company called KaleidoEye. For more information, visit www.kaleidoeye.com.