Why do elite sportspeople and rockstars tell themselves that they’re the “best in the world” and visualise themselves “in the zone” before they perform?
The psychology behind it is remarkably simple. Human beings just tend to live up to the labels we apply to ourselves. They also live up to the labels applied by to others.
In schools, this is even more critical. Each stakeholder in your school’s culture – staff, students and parents – can fall victim to behaviours that match the wrong kinds of labels.
Have you ever heard a student say that they have “anger issues” as though it’s a permanent condition? What that child is doing is creating a permanent condition of their poor responses to situations that anger them.
Your job is to hold the optimism, reject the label and put a plan in place that proves your label to be the right one.
I’ve told many students insistent that they have anger issues that they’re my anger gurus. They know anger better than most and it’s their responsibility to show others how to tame the beast. It’s also a nice way to normalise anger and shake the shame that often comes with believing that anger is a bad part of ourselves.
It works the same ways with students who say they “suck at maths”, with teachers who say that they’ll “never understand technology” and parents who insist they’re the parents who “everyone on staff hates”.
If we allow these labels to persist, then we can expect behaviours that match the label.
Some people just need us to carry the burden of optimism for them for a while before they can shake the negative label themselves.
We can carry that.
Keep fighting that good fight,
PS. I’m very happy to say that we’ve got ourselves organised early this year for our events. I’m coming to a city near you sometime this year.
If you’re a school leader, or a teacher, I’d love to see you there.
Here are the details:
Restorative Classrooms, Strong Classrooms
The Art of School Culture Leadership
Why not follow my lead, get yourself organised early too, and be one of the first registered? We’ve got a special prize that we’re going to draw from everyone who registers before the end of Feb … but you’ve got to be in it to win it.
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