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Welcome to Monday's Email #10


Ten e-mails in and there is a great increase in people trusting me with their e-mail. I hope everyone is getting a small nugget of value out of each e-mail. Thanks to those who have forwarded the e-mail to others who they think would benefit.


One Strategy for Behaviour Management

Fear of failure is a common blockage in children (and adults) as they grow older. If left unaddressed, this can cripple a child's potential as they cease to give their best effort or risk a wrong answer. I came up with the following lesson to address failure with a particular child who had a debilitating fear of failure.

I showed him the first 25 seconds of this video (click here for video) and paused it at that exact moment. It's a man talking about how many games he's lost, how many shots he's missed, how many times he's failed.

When it was paused, I asked him a few questions along the following lines:
  • What type of person was he do you think? (Answer: He was really bad/a loser)
  • What evidence tells you that? (Answer: He says how many games he's lost)
  • Do you think he ever won or achieved anything? (Answer: No, he was really bad)
I then play the last five seconds of the clip which is just the plot twist, "And this is why, I succeed"

Then we looked at each other. The child was confused.

How could he have succeeded if he missed so many shots, lost so many games and failed so many games?

At this point, I asked him had he heard of Micheal Jordan? And we watched this video of Obama giving him the Medal of Freedom and discussing his honours.

We had a chat about the disconnect.

How had he made it from failure to greatness? Gently, the child had a realisation. You have to fail to get better.

This what we call a corrective emotional experience. The child started to associate another emotion with failure aside from fear. He realised there could be pleasure in failure.

I know this lesson was particularly powerful because his mother rang me the following day saying whatever I had said to him in school had worked because he was lecturing her the evening before about needing to fail to improve.

A simple lesson, feel free to share.

One Strategy for Inclusion

Inclusion is a tricky topic at the minute. It is easy to get analysis paralysis as with the schools being closed. There are a lot of barriers and things we cannot do due to restrictions. I've been caught up with this myself of late as it was hard to see the wood from the trees. Stripping it all back to basics is the way forward at the moment I think. I suggest a 3-step process:

1. Think about the child and try to create a clear picture of what barriers they might be facing at the minute.

2. Communicate with the parents and see where they think their child is at and what they need.

3. Personalise the approach using Einstein's principle of "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler."
  • This could mean simply allowing them to learn at their own pace.
  • Setting up more regular feedback or reminders to encourage task initiation, completion or encouragement for effort.
  • Sending pre-recorded explanations that can be rewatched as necessary.
Everyone is stressed right now. Take care of parents and children, but also yourself. You cannot pour from an empty cup.

One Concept to get you Thinking

I'm getting really into the idea of different mental models at the moment. A mental model is like a process for thinking. I believe they could be a really interesting way to open the mind and views problems, behaviour and opportunities in new ways. The world is 1% what happens to you and 99% how you react to it after all.

Hanlon's Razor is a mental model that helps with rapid decision-making and could help teachers when reacting to another adult or child's actions or behaviour.
Hanlon's Razor dictates that we should never assume that any behaviour or action is a result of malice when we can attribute it instead to neglect, carelessness or stupidity.
Imagine the power of being able to adopt this way of thinking constantly?

It would help us consistently react in a calm, non-judgemental manner. If somebody acts out of stupidity or carelessness, there is little sense of getting angry. Adopting the principle of Hanlon's Razor, you would be curious and seek out the facts first. You would seek to establish a motive or a reason to explain the behaviour.

You would not jump in two feet first and potentially regret your actions later when you discover there was no malice intended. If you are constantly assuming that any undesirable action or behaviour is of malicious intent, you're more likely to be upset, defensive and counterproductive in your thoughts, actions and words. 

Giving children (and adults) the initial benefit of the doubt before initiating communication to establish the motive can only be beneficial in my mind.

Curiousity over judgement.

If you have read to this point, you must have found something of note here. I'd appreciate you sharing this email or the contents of it by screenshots, forwarding, social media or any means necessary and send people to to get their own. Thanks for the support.

Behave yourself,

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