#30GoalsEdu: Give Yourself a Pep Talk

We all lead stressful lives full of everyday challenges which often leave us disappointed and discouraged. It’s part of life’s big learning journey and couldn’t be truer in our call/profession! We get to meet so many different people, try to help them make the best of their potential, adjust to and respect their needs and learning goals. It’s a road filled with moments of immeasurable happiness, but emotions of discouragement and disappointment always find a way to get to us. That’s why I feel that self-empowerment/motivation and compassion are essential if we are to avoid burnout and advance in our personal and professional lives.
It’s the same for our students, too. Every learning journey involves setbacks that make us question our abilities and strength to fulfill our dreams. There are many ways I try to motivate myself to keep going, my favourite one though is a special card I’ve created to remind myself of who I am when I have negative thoughts. It’s also a card I made with my A2 students on Valentine’s day. I wanted to remind them that no matter how important it is to love other people, we can’t really love others if we don’t love ourselves. The card-portrait is actually a piece of paper divided in 12 or 16 boxes (4 columns-3/4 rows). Each row represents 3 different aspects of my life and what makes me special in these 3/4 different fields (What makes me a special human being? What makes me a special friend? What makes me a special teacher? What makes me a special musician? ) Each of the 4 boxes along the row are filled with one word or a short phrase that makes me unique. Here are some photos of my card.:

Other ways to encourage self-compassion with my students are:
  • Embrace mistakes!: Instead of focusing on the reasons why your students repeat the same mistakes, promote the idea that all mistakes are lessons and focus on what everyone can learn from them. For example, if I have students who repeatedly drop the final -s/es in the 3rd person singular form of Present Simple, I ask them “What can we learn from this?” and then encourage them to suggest ways to help each other not to repeat the mistake.
  • Positive Statements Reformulation!: This is an alternative I’ve suggested to them whenever they are faced with difficulties or problems. Instead of writing down or saying “I can’t do it!”, we drop the “not” part and extend the sentence using “but” as for e.g. in “I can do it, but I will need more time.”
  • Breathing routines: Especially before tests or other stresssful tasks, we follow a series of breathing and Brain Gym activities.
  • Problem Solving Worksheets/Guides: Sometimes the reason we feel unable to handle a situation is because we haven’t mapped out what the problem is and what solutions exist. Writing down the steps to a problem often leaves us with more than 1 options to consider. There are many worksheets available which you can adapt and use with your classes whenever you feel your students are let down by difficulties and question their abilities.

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