Forget negativity, positive thinking is a progressive teaching tool
If you study top sports and business achievers you find again and again that they are committed to positive thinking because it works. What’s more, researchers believe that positive thinkers live longer, are healthier, more successful, less stressed and have better relationships. The strategies and techniques used in ‘Cognitive Behavioural Coaching’ challenge individual thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are self-defeating.
Complete the Circuit
Positive thinking about how you respond to potential obstacles helps your clients stay focused, creating a productive learning environment and turning challenges into opportunities, attacking problems with a can-do, find-a-way mentality. Consider the following, highly apt, quotes:
Mike Ditka: “I don’t think anything is unrealistic if you believe you can do it.”
John Wooden: “I believe one of my strengths is my ability to keep negative thoughts out. I am an optimist.”
Vince Lombardi: “Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.”
There are plenty of ways to help yourself develop a more optimistic viewpoint and the language to suit, as well as reasons to do so:
● Positive thinkers cope better with stress: When they face a disappointment they are more likely to focus on what they can do to resolve the situation. Negative thinkers struggle to accept failures, or constructively learning from them in order to improve.
● Positive thinking makes you more resilient: It helps you to be able to face and cope with a crisis or issue.
● Positive thinking can help you learn from experiences: It can help you or your client move on.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to build a more positive outlook in pupils is to ask more helpful questions as often as possible. When they appear to be approaching an issue negatively, then it may be good to ask the following questions:
● What is one thing that is positive or good about this situation?
● What is one opportunity within this situation?
● What have we learnt from what just happened?
Help them realise that we need to make mistakes in order to learn and improve, and a lesson that has been full of mistakes is also one where a lot of learning has taken place. Set lesson goals together with your pupil, it’s their goals that are important and motivational, and this will make the pupil more confident and hopeful. Small, specific achievable goals are always the best, and writing down achievements in a reflective log can really help someone to be more positive because you remember them more easily and can refer back to them.
How positive is your language in lessons?
Do you ever say any of the following or similar?
● Don’t bring the clutch up so fast
● Don’t lose the gas as we move off
● You shouldn’t leave your foot over the clutch all the time
● That’s not the way to …
You may follow up with the reason why, but it could well be that the pupil isn’t listening by that point. Look closely at how they react to what you say – have you upset or insulted them in some way? Learners don’t make mistakes on purpose, so you need to help them understand, learn and move on.
Negative to positive
Consider the following statements and possible alternatives. Hopefully they will help you think of other, more positive ways to frame them:
● Manoeuvres are difficult at first / Manoeuvres become easier as you practise
● I know you are struggling with the parking manoeuvre / I will never ask you to do something that you can’t do
● That wasn’t a bad try / Well done how do you feel that went?
● Don’t worry about it / How can I help you with this?
● You mustn’t brake so late / How did that braking feel as we approached the junction? What can you do now to improve on the braking?
● You don’t check the mirrors enough / If you check the mirrors more, what are the benefits?