Is Your Glass Half-Filled or Refillable?

Is Your Glass Half-Filled or Refillable?

By Guest Blogger: Ilene Winokur, Ed.D.

We often hear about people who either believe the glass is half empty or half full. Have you ever heard that the glass can be refilled? How does changing our perception from a deficit mindset (glass half-empty) to an asset-based mindset (glass can be refilled) improve how we perceive our students and how they perceive themselves? 

A Deficit-Based Mindset

A few years ago, I was presenting at a private school in Kuwait. The language medium was English and the majority of students were Kuwaiti nationals whose first language is Arabic. I have often encountered a deficit mindset about language learners, so after introducing myself, I started the session with this query: “Raise your hand if you know the stages of second language acquisition.” Of the 100 or so teachers in the room, only three raised their hands. Although I wasn’t surprised, it disappointed me because teachers who don’t have an understanding of how long it takes to learn a new language often become impatient with the slow process of learning. They don’t realize that most students are taking the time they need to express themselves in the target language. This leads to a deficit-based mindset which impacts how students think of themselves as learners.

Cultivating Growth Mindset Skills

Lowering our expectations of students influences how they think of themselves. I received poor grades in art class throughout my school experience. This led me to believe I was not a creative person. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized creativity isn’t just knowing how to draw. Currently, one of the most important skills requested by employers and necessary for career success is creativity (Forbes, 2019). These skills can be cultivated in our children by helping them understand the design thinking process which can be learned through projects, for example. 

So how can teachers and parents ensure children have a growth mindset? Here are five ways teachers and parents can help children grow their self-belonging (self-worth, -efficacy, -esteem, -confidence) with positive self-talk to help children become more confident learners.

5 Ways to Help Grow Self-Belonging

    1. Don’t water down the content or lower expectations. Scaffold lessons, plan carefully, and help children learn the skills needed to overcome the gaps in their learning.
    2. Spend time on finding out, then focusing on each child’s strengths (I call them superpowers). When opportunities arise to use their superpowers, notice them and celebrate how they used them to overcome challenges.
    3. Build resilience and perseverance in children by using literature or real-life examples from their own lives or others.
    4. Create a safe environment so children feel comfortable sharing their stories, thoughts, and dreams. They will feel validated and valued.
    5. Children who have an opportunity to use their voices and make choices become empowered learners. Voice and choice should be built into their daily lives in school and at home.

Although it’s important to know when students have gaps in their learning, emphasizing the “lack of” instead of focusing on their superpowers can have a long-lasting negative impact on their self-image and their self-perception.

 

Ilene Winokur, Ed.D.

Professional Development Specialist

 

 

 

Dr. Ilene Winokur has lived in Kuwait since 1984 and is a professional development specialist supporting teachers globally including refugee teachers. Prior to retiring in 2019, she was a teacher and administrator for 25 years. Her blog, podcast, and upcoming book focus on the importance of feeling a sense of belonging. You can connect with Ilene on Twitter and find links to her podcast and blog on her website.

 

Additional Resource from Ilene:

SEL Discussion Resource:  I AM GRATEFUL

SEL Discussion Resource:  I AM GRATEFUL

This is that last in our current series of free social-emotional learning discussion resources, but we will have a new series coming soon! We’re wrapping up 30 themed SEL resources to help you create discussion activities that foster a positive mindset centered on each of the five core competencies of social and emotional learning.

We provide the idea-starters with the intent that teachers can develop creative variations to adapt to age-appropriate use for their students. 

SEL Discussion Resource:  I AM GRATEFUL

Self-awareness

Write or say the affirmation together: I am grateful.

  • Describe how being grateful makes you feel.
  • How do you think expressing your gratitude makes others feel?
  • “Popcorn” discussion: Have students pop up when they think of something for which they are grateful. Call on each, then have them pop up as they think of more. Keep going until everyone has popped up at least once.

Self-management

  • Writing activity: List three things for which you’re grateful.
  • Discussion: How can we be grateful for something we don’t like? Example: homework. (Discuss how it benefits us, the purpose, etc.)

Responsible decision-making 

  • Finish the sentence: When I’m not feeling grateful, I can _________.
  • When you choose to be grateful, even when you aren’t feeling it, how does it change your mindset?

Social awareness

  • Write notes of appreciation to people who work in your school.
  • Leave a note of gratitude on the whiteboard for the custodian.
  • Create a gratitude video to share with someone in your school. (Your social media manager might be interested in posting the video, and you could create different ones each week.)

Relationship skills

  • Write a paragraph about why being grateful is important.
  • Describe how feeling appreciated helps you to feel more valued.

 


To find the full-size posters to use in your classroom (or the magnet or postcard size) visit our store.

Suggestion for virtual learning:

  • Purchase a pack of 30 postcards for the teacher to hold the appropriate one up to the screen during discussion.
  • Purchase a pack of 30 small hand-off notes for each student to have at home with them. This allows for an interactive and hands-on experience.
SEL Discussion Resource:  I FEEL CONFIDENT

SEL Discussion Resource:  I FEEL CONFIDENT

This week’s free SEL discussion resource focuses on growing a positive sense of self-confidence and collaborating with others for success. The discussion is a way to apply the affirmation to each of the five core competencies of social and emotional learning.

We provide the idea-starters with the intent that teachers can develop creative variations to adapt to age-appropriate use for their students. 

SEL Discussion Resource:  I FEEL CONFIDENT

Self-awareness

Write or say the affirmation together: I feel confident.

  • Finish the sentence: I feel most confident when _____________.
  • Describe how your body reacts when you feel confident.

Self-management

  • Without enough confidence, it’s easy to give up too soon or not get started at all. When you are about to do something big and you don’t feel as confident, how do you build your confidence up?
    • What things do you say?
    • What do you do?
    • Who do you talk to?
    • How do you prepare ahead for setbacks that are sure to come?
  • Writing assignment – List at least three things to complete this sentence: I know I’m good at ______________.
    • If you don’t know what to say, think of what compliments a friend or a teacher would give you.
    • Pair with someone to share your lists with each other.

Responsible decision-making

  • Finish this sentence: If I were confident I would not fail, I would. ____________.
    • Now, write a paragraph about what might happen if you weren’t confident but tried it anyway.
    • What might happen if you failed?
    • What bothers you about the idea of failing?
    • What might happen if you took the risk and succeeded?
  • Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Confidence does not equal the absence of fear.
  • How can knowing your limitations increase your confidence?
    • Describe how knowing when to ask for help is part of success.

 Social awareness

  • What is the difference between being confident and being braggy (arrogant)?
    • Make a list with two columns. In one list the qualities that come with confidence (bold, positive, optimistic, brave, encourages others, etc.). In the other, list the qualities that come with being arrogant (self-centered, know-it-all, cocky, superior, bossy, etc.).

 Relationship skills

  • Describe how teamwork sometimes helps to increase confidence. (Think of collaborating strengths, giving verbal support, etc.)
    • Why is it a trap to think you can do everything alone?
  • Make a list of words or short phrases that could be used to boost confidence in someone else.

 

Next week’s SEL focus: I AM GRATEFUL


To find the full-size posters to use in your classroom (or the magnet or postcard size) visit our store.

Suggestion for virtual learning:

  • Purchase a pack of 30 postcards for the teacher to hold the appropriate one up to the screen during discussion.
  • Purchase a pack of 30 small hand-off notes for each student to have at home with them. This allows for an interactive and hands-on experience.
SEL Discussion Resource:  LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

SEL Discussion Resource: LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

This week’s free SEL discussion resource focuses on enjoying every moment in life, but also on looking at how the darker moments help us appreciate the beautiful ones. The discussion is a way to apply the affirmation to each of the five core competencies of social and emotional learning.

We provide the idea-starters with the intent that teachers can develop creative variations to adapt to age-appropriate use for their students. 

SEL Discussion Resource:  LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL AND I ENJOY EVERY MOMENT

Self-awareness

Write or say the affirmation together: Life is beautiful, and I enjoy every moment.

  • Write a paragraph about how you feel about the affirmation.
  • Describe physical sensations you feel when you have beautiful and happy thoughts about life: tears of joy, lower heart rate, calm, slower breathing, smile, relaxed face, feeling light.
  • Describe physical sensations you feel when you experience thoughts or feelings such as sadness, frustration, or anger: heat (embarrassment, shame), pressure (stress), tingling, muscular tension (anger, nervousness), headache, rapid breathing. 

Self-management

  • A beautiful life doesn’t mean a perfect life.
    • Encourage students to share how difficulties can also be beautiful.
    • How or why could someone enjoy every moment when there are sure to be sad ones?
    • Discuss how we appreciate the light more when we also have darkness.
  • Play a game of Unfortunately/Fortunately. Name a statement about something that is unfortunate, then have students give a positive statement about what is still good. Examples:
    • Unfortunately, I didn’t pass my test. Fortunately, I can study and try again.
    • Unfortunately, we can’t go outside for recess because of the weather. Fortunately, we have fun indoor things we can do.
    • Unfortunately, I lost my favorite gloves. Fortunately, I got new ones for my birthday.

Responsible decision-making

  • Life is beautiful when we recognize when it’s ok to say no and report something. Describe what someone can do if they are in a situation that doesn’t feel right.
  • Discuss or write about what activities or interests give you a sense of enjoyment.
  • Group discussion: Sometimes circumstances outside of our control can bring emotions that are the opposite of enjoying every moment. How do you express those emotions? Who do you express them to?

Social awareness

  • When you believe life is beautiful and you enjoy every moment, what effect does that have on the people around you?
  • Sometimes others have emotional triggers because they don’t know how to express their experiences. How can you respond when someone is acting out?

Relationship skills

  • Make a list of the qualities you value in your classroom culture that make life beautiful and enjoyable. Examples: acceptance, trust, being helpful, safety, listening, fairness, encouragement.

 

Next week’s SEL focus: I FEEL CONFIDENT


To find the full-size posters to use in your classroom (or the magnet or postcard size) visit our store.

Suggestion for virtual learning:

  • Purchase a pack of 30 postcards for the teacher to hold the appropriate one up to the screen during discussion.
  • Purchase a pack of 30 small hand-off notes for each student to have at home with them. This allows for an interactive and hands-on experience.
SEL Discussion Resource: I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY

SEL Discussion Resource: I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY

The activities and discussion questions in this free classroom resource focus on how external events don’t have to determine our happiness. The discussion is a way to apply the affirmation to each of the five core competencies of social and emotional learning as students learn how to choose to be happy.

We provide the idea-starters with the intent that teachers can develop creative variations to adapt to age-appropriate use for their students.

SEL Discussion Resource: I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY

Self-awareness

Write or say the affirmation together: I choose to be happy.

  • If happiness could fill a cup, how happy do you feel? A little bit, half full, almost full, overflowing.
    • Option: draw a picture or a doodle of a cup and show how full of happiness yours is.
    • Then pair with someone and show your picture. Talk about what makes you happy.
  • Happiness can co-exist with other emotions. Write a short essay that beings with this statement: Even when I’m disappointed, I can still find happiness because… (For a variation, change out “when I’m disappointed” for other options such as when I lose a game, when I miss the bus, when I forget my lunch, when my party is canceled, etc.)
    • Discuss: Talk about what other emotions they identified in their essay and how their choice to be happy affected those real emotions.

Self-management

  • Group discussion: Identify which of these statements demonstrate choosing to be happy and which ones don’t. (Pause to discuss where there is a disagreement or to discuss why.)
    • If only I had __________, I would be happy.
    • I have so many goals. My future is exciting, and I’m ready to work hard!
    • I’ll never accomplish my goals because I don’t have what someone else has.
    • I had a bad morning, so this is a bad day.
    • I look for ways to encourage others and share what I have with them.
    • I give a positive greeting to people I pass by.
    • I try to be happy, but someone or something always wrecks my day. (Talk about how others are not responsible for our happiness, and we have a choice in how we respond.)
    • I often complain all day long.
    • I feel sad sometimes, but I also notice the positive things in my life.
    • When I’m frustrated, I acknowledge that emotion, but then I look for a way to change my focus to something different.
    • I think happiness comes from inside of me, not from what happens around me.

Responsible decision-making

  • Take a one-month happiness challenge as a class. Pause for 5–10 minutes every day for students to write or draw in a happiness journal—something that makes them feel good, something positive, anything that makes them smile. At the end of the experiment, discuss how it affected their perceptions and happiness.
  • List all the ways you can refocus your mindset when you feel unhappy. (Movement, smiling, music, dancing, fresh air, etc.)

 Social awareness

  • Who is the happiest person you know?
    • What do you think makes them happy?
    • What difficulties do you know they have gone through?
    • List some reasons why you think this person is still happy, even with struggles.
  • Do you think people who are rich and famous are more happy? Write a paragraph explaining why or why not.

Relationship skills

  • Discuss: Why does giving something to someone else or helping them increase your own feeling of happiness?
  • Discuss: How does gratitude affect happiness?

 

Next week’s SEL focus: LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL AND I ENJOY EVERY MOMENT


To find the full-size posters to use in your classroom (or the magnet or postcard size) visit our store.

Suggestion for virtual learning:

  • Purchase a pack of 30 postcards for the teacher to hold the appropriate one up to the screen during discussion.
  • Purchase a pack of 30 small hand-off notes for each student to have at home with them. This allows for an interactive and hands-on experience.
SEL Discussion Resource: I BELIEVE IN MY DREAMS

SEL Discussion Resource: I BELIEVE IN MY DREAMS

This week is about believing in our dreams and overcoming barriers to progress and limiting beliefs. The discussion is a way to apply the affirmation to each of the five core competencies of social and emotional learning as students consider who inspires them and how they can inspire others too.

We provide the idea-starters with the intent that teachers can develop creative variations to adapt to age-appropriate use for their students. 

SEL Discussion Resource: I BELIEVE IN MY DREAMS

Self-awareness

Write or say the affirmation together: I believe in my dreams.

  • What self-talk stops you from believing in your dreams sometimes?
  • What do you love doing and would do it all the time if you could?
  • Finish this sentence: I have always hoped I could _______________ someday.

Self-management

  • Your dream is up to you! Describe the unique abilities you have that connect with your dream.
  • What skills will you need to start learning now in order to pursue your dream?
  • What blocks you from your dreams?
    • Identify any of these that are limiting beliefs and write a statement that turns it into an “I can” statement.

Responsible decision-making

  • What words of praise would you want to hear that encourage your dream?
  • Write a letter to yourself that explains why you believe in yourself and your dreams.
  • Write a contract/commitment to yourself about working hard to pursue your dreams.

Social awareness

  • Who inspires you because they accomplished their dreams?
  • Who do you aspire to be like? What obstacles do you think they had to overcome?
  • Who is your biggest cheerleader for your dreams?

Relationship skills

  • When you believe in someone else’s dream, what could you say to show that to them?
  • Who might you need to collaborate with as you pursue your dream?
  • Describe how cooperating with others and encouraging each other helps everyone make progress.

 

Next week’s SEL focus: I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY


To find the full-size posters to use in your classroom (or the magnet or postcard size) visit our store.

Suggestion for virtual learning:

  • Purchase a pack of 30 postcards for the teacher to hold the appropriate one up to the screen during discussion.
  • Purchase a pack of 30 small hand-off notes for each student to have at home with them. This allows for an interactive and hands-on experience.