Teachers have Inner Voices
Teachers get triggered
Students have Inner Voices too
Students get triggered too
It might be something you say or something you do. It could happen seldom, or it could happen a lot. There's research that suggests up 30% of your students have adverse childhood experiences that are waiting to be triggered. And when they are triggered your students have little chance to parry the effects. Assuming that your students aren't all Zen masters.
What Inner Voices do you hear in these common student comments?:
- I can't do this
- I'm no good at this
- This is hard
- I'm not going to be any good at this anyway
- I'm never going to use this
- Everyone else is better than me at this
The answer is that the Inner Voice is protecting the student from feeling bad about their lack of success (so far).
It's tempting for a teacher to go ahead and prove the student is wrong, that far from not being able to 'do this' they indeed can - and then they proceed to show the student how. It's a strategy that places Teacher and Student on opposite sides of the Inner Voice. It's a trap. And so is any 'encouragement' strategy that steps over the fact that the student is more focused on protecting themselves than learning about (this) whatever it is.
Strategy: Teach about Inner Voice
A more empowering way of tackling this situation is to teach the student about their Inner Voice. Give it some space to come into the open and be seen for what it is, self-protection. You might have a learning conversation like this:
S - I can't do this!
T - So, what's telling you that you can't?
S - I just know
T - What's the benefit to you of believing it?
S - I don't know
T - If you believe you can't then you will stop trying, and then there's no way to fail. Your Inner Voice is protecting you
S - Inner Voice?
T - Yeah. The voice that tells you what you can and cannot do. We all have them
S - So I don't have to do (this)!
T - Your Inner Voice has a job, it protects you from doing stuff that might hurt you. It's trying to protect you from the hurt of failing. But you don't have to listen to it.
S - I don't?
T - Not all the time. As you get older, you will learn what to listen to, and what not to.
S - What's that got to do with learning about (this)?
T - Everything and nothing. Learning to do (this) is all about learning when to listen to your Inner Voice, and when not to.
S - OK
T - What if you believed 100% that you can't do this, what might happen?
S - I won't be able to do it
T - What if you believed 100% that you can do this, what might happen?
S - But I can't
T - Not yet. But if you believed you can do this, what might happen?
S - Maybe I could
T - Maybe you could. What would it be like if you could do this?
S - I don't know
T - Want to find out?
Teach about (this)
T - So, what's it like to be able to do (this)?
S - It's OK
T - And what does your Inner Voice say about it?
S - I won't be able to do (that)
T - Did you see what the Inner Voice did there?
S - No
T - It jumped ahead of you, to protect you again
S - Oh yeah
T - So, do you want to learn about (that)?
Not every learning conversation will be the same, but they follow the pattern of:
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