"I can do this!"
"I did a great job!"
These are just a few positive messages that we can use to help us. We all have thoughts and feelings. But do we ever take a direct approach to teach our children how it all works? In my school this year, we are implementing a social-emotional learning curriculum. I tried out a few lessons last year. At first I was skeptical, but now I am a firm believer that we need to be very intentional about giving students the tools necessary to be successful in this world. We spend a great deal of time teaching them to read, write and do math but it means nothing if we can not communicate and get along with others in this world.
This month I introduced "Self Talk" to my students. I started off by showing them a picture of two students at a table. One was working and the other was playing around with her pencil as if it were an airplane. We talked about distractions. One way to deal with these distractions is to talk to yourself and tell yourself to "stay focused." We practiced it. Throughout the month we have found other situations that we could use it. How about when you are feeling frustrated and want to give up? Try telling yourself, "I can do this!"
While working with a group of bright kinders one boy said to me, "I can't read or write." Knowing his abilities I assured him that he could do it. Not only were the words that he was using negative, but his body language as well. I had him repeat after me, "I am a reader! I am a writer." He looked at me as if I were crazy but he did as he was told. I had him repeat it several times. As we proceeded with this activity I had him sit up straight and say it like he meant it. Within a minute or so, he was using the skills that he already had to create an amazing sentence. I do not think that this one session has cured him of his negative thinking but I am determined to help him to see what positive self talk can do for him.
The best part of the week happened on Friday when a parent came up to me and asked what we had been doing in class. Her son came home and told her we can talk to ourselves when we needed to focus. This felt even better knowing that her child was an English Language learner and he was able to understand the concept. The mom was delighted to hear that we are giving our students tools to learn about positive self talk.