(Health Secrets) Politicians, business leaders, educational researchers, and parents in the U. S. are complaining about our students’ poor academic achievement. Many believe the path to greater learning is increased testing and longer school days. In reality, these strategies are the complete opposite of real need. What students and teachers actually need is the ability to create hope thinking in schools.
Research demonstrates that hope thinking creates improvement
▪ Attendance – students are more likely to go to school, and employees are more involved and enthusiastic at work
▪ Sustained effort (willpower) – on academic and work tasks
▪ Productivity – workers are more likely to be engaged, satisfied, and creative
▪ Health – hopeful people tolerate more pain and demonstrate healthy lifestyle practices
▪ Well-being – increased positive emotions, meaning and purpose in life and strong support networks lead to greater satisfaction from life
▪ Longevity – hopeful people live longer and live better
At school hope education helps students set goals and develop strategies (waypower) while motivation is supported (willpower). Hope thinking creates active engagement with learning. Learning becomes real, powerful and useful. Students need opportunity for the application of memorized information.
What is the teacher’s role?
▪ Encourage goals that excite students
▪ Calibrate goals to the student’s age and specific circumstances
▪ Discuss and encourage various goal options and help students to rank them by importance.
▪ Help students select several goals and establish alternate goals that may be needed
▪ Encourage students to think about their goals – what will be needed to attain them
▪ Help students develop pathways and thinking tactics (strategic planning)
▪ Teach students how to set clear goal markers – waypower behaviors to reach goals
▪ Help students to break down large goals into smaller sub goals (step-by-step sequence)
▪ Encourage establishment of approach goals
▪ Support students in team thinking – “we” goals in addition to “me” goals.
▪ Identify several routes to a desired goal and what to do if you encounter a blockage
▪ Emphasize the importance of preparation and planning
▪ Support continuous thinking, without judgment and criticism
▪ Investigate alternate routes free of negative judgment
▪ Encourage students to learn that blockage is an opportunity to investigate another route
▪ Help students recognize that if a new skill is needed they can learn it
▪ Remind students they can always ask for help
Teachers and parents can encourage hope thinking by creating environments and relationships that are ordered, consistent, and predictable. To encourage hope, the adult’s approach needs to be firm, fair, and consistent. Students should be held responsible for their choices and behaviors.
Progress, positive effort and goals should be recognized and rewarded. Rewards should show appreciation for “a job well done” and need not be physical or monetary. Adults should focus students on developing a work ethic and learning, not on awards, or status outcome.
Children and adolescents with learning problems may display behaviors that are a sign of hopelessness. Behaviors that indicate feelings of hopelessness include: anger, frustration, disruptive behavior, disrespect, lack of mental focus, giving up easily, inability to organize, day dreaming, isolation, and depression.
Under the large umbrella of developing hope we can support our children’s growth. Parents can help children cultivate supportive relationships, challenge negative thinking, get regular exercise, eat a healthy and mood-boosting diet, and encourage them to ask for help when needed. These activities support Willpower and Waypower thinking and build a long-term healthy lifestyle.
- Students need to identify, list and prioritize goals from large to small and in order of importance. Students create a “big picture” list, such as their academics, friends, family, sports, or career. Goals should reflect the child’s desire, not the parent or school’s desires
- Students quickly lose interest and/or motivation (especially as they come up against obstacles) for goals that are not their own
- Teach students how to create specific, positive goals. Goals should focus on accomplishing something in the future not in avoiding something now
- For students with little hope, it is vital to list goals in order of importance to their focus and energy
- Long-term goals should be broken down in steps. Low hope individuals often believe goals must be accomplished immediately and all-at-once. By celebrating step-by-step successes along the way, students learn to value perseverance, and motivation is supported
- To help students face frustration and learn to move past obstacles, encourage them to visualize different paths to their goals
- Teach students that barriers and obstacles are not due to a lack of talent but represent an opportunity to develop new skills
- Share stories of success (have students read books about peers who have overcome challenges).
- Help students learn to enjoy working toward goals and use positive self-talk, rather than criticizing self for mistakes. Keep the process light and positive.
Hope thinking is more than a set of teaching strategies, or problem solving tactics. Hope thinking opens up the mind to the joy of being and learning, and hope and joy remove the fear of failure. When the mind is calm and at ease we learn quickly and easily because mind, body and spirit are aligned engaged.
Have you noticed how quickly adolescents learn and remember the lyrics to a song? They are engaged in the song – the body responds to the rhythms of the music; the mind says these lyrics speak to me and the singer understands me; the spirit senses shared meaning in the moment—there is unconditional acceptance.
Hope thinking is a core building block for wellness and a positive future. Life is always about making choices. When hope thinking is consciously used, the application helps in many practical ways. For example choosing a career, saving money, making tough medical decisions, or leading a problem-solving group.
A person who demonstrates hope thinking demonstrates true leadership qualities.
For more information:
Lopez, S. J. (2013). Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others. Atria Books.
Snyder, C. R. (2000). Handbook of Hope : Theory, Measures, and Applications. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.