I have been drawn back to a statement which was a statement by which I was going to try to live my life in 2020.
'Strive for progress over perfection.'
So many of us are geared in a way that begs us to not put anything out there that is less than perfect - I was/am one of those people and I have come to realise what a debilitating way to be this is and how much I may well have not achieved in the past because of it. Trying to live life in a Growth Mindset is all about making progress and accepting that progress is a journey and that the journey is as if not more important than the destination. Obviously in fighting Covid-19, the destination of eliminating the threat of this virus is paramount globally. However, the journey and what we are learning about ourselves as a species, as global citizens, as countries and as individuals along the way is just as important.
It is through my focused work and thinking around Mindsets that I have come to realise just how stifling perfectionism is and I work hard to get the children I teach to see this through creating the Growth Mindset culture around them. It is an attitude that does not allow for all the attributes that constitute good learning, i.e. that learning is messy.
Through this Covid 19 experience, I am learning to be more patient and that too is messy at times! Working with a toddler is generally a messy experience that we learn to embrace because it is incredibly intense learning in action. I have come to recognise this building of patience as a mindful experience. I have been seeing/hearing a lot more of late of people talking about how we are in an incredible moment of being able to be Mindful. A simple way to think about what constitutes Mindfulness and what it means to be Mindful is it is about 'being in the moment.' I consider myself very 'in the moment' as I sit looking into my daughters eyes and we wait together for the wee wee to come! I am very present in that moment. As for many of us, who know that being Mindful is a good thing to practise, I find it hard to slow down and stop my mind from whirling and having thoughts and ideas. I find it hard to be at peace in my head. I am noticing that suddenly, through both awareness and more time to deliberate, I am more present. I feel like the world in general is more present as we battle this thing together - we are all forced to be on the same page and take a global breath.
In line with this and online with this, I am about to experience my first 'sound bath' over the virtual airways. My friend's brother in law is a qualified sound therapist and one of the things he offers is the creation of sound experiences that are a chance to practice a kind of Mindfulness. For a long time, I have seen his marketing online and wanted to have a go with this, but I live too far away from him. I wear hearing aids as I have difficulty with my hearing, so it seems strange that I'm sensitive to sound but I am, and this really appeals to me. He has decided to use this opportunity to create sound bath experiences online and I have joined up to do one. Ordinarily, this may not have been something he would have done but these times call for us to think outside the box and in so doing I will be able to have a go at this.
At this moment in time, we are all learning new things - in my own arena in education this has largely been about how to keep connection and learning going with our pupils whilst we self-isolate. Many parents are learning to home-school or at least get some sort of routine going at home which will support their children's growth as well as keeping them occupied and entertained. Big learning curve - one which we are not going to get right first time, and this is something we need to accept not beat ourselves up over.
I myself have decided that now is the perfect time to potty train my daughter (something I have been broaching with her and been dreading since her reaction has been less than positive up to this point). I have been spurred into action on this as I am not going to waste this opportunity of being shut indoors. I am so out of my comfort zone in guiding her through this and simply must remind myself that we are learning together and it's going to be messy! We are making progress.
One of my colleagues has set herself the challenge of learning to stand on her head and, as she knows my passion for all things growth mindset, she sent me videoclips all linked together to detail her progress thus far! She is not there YET but definite progress has been made. This is the kind of thing all teachers should be doing and sharing with their pupils to illustrate being out of your comfort zone and showing that teachers and adults go through that too. We all struggle when faced with new situations but let them see you struggling and working it out. We do not always get the opportunity to do this in such a focused way and therefore learning opportunities in raising children with Growth Mindsets is abound, at the moment.
In fact, children are in the position where they are seeing their parents grappling with the challenge - this may not just be in terms of home schooling but in their jobs as many parents are working from home and others go out as key workers. All of this is modelling behaviour of Growth Mindset and resilience and ultimately this is where children look to learn how to manage their own behaviours and thus develop their Growth Mindsets. If we project Fixed Mindsets at this time to children, especially when in such close proximity in families, do not be surprised if they pick up these behaviours in similar ways. Don't be scared to let them see your struggles but make sure they also see you finding solutions too!
Thinking about our homelife currently, we are learning to live with each other in a much more confined way which can be challenging. Whilst we are learning to live with each other in this way we must also appreciate that we are getting to know more about our loved ones than we did before - perhaps more than we want to know, in some cases!
My brother, who I don't live with, works for 'Future Learn', an organisation that offer online courses, programs and degrees created by leading universities, business schools and specialist organisations. It is a platform that almost feels like it was designed for the current moment in which we find ourselves. I am pleased that my brother works for such a Growth Mindsetted institution where the goal is to get people learning new things, expanding both their own capacity and the people/organisations around them. It is all about growth and progress. He tells me that Future Learn and other similar platforms are experiencing huge growth in demand - they even have a Covid-19 course for which 150,000 have already signed up! Now I'm not sure that ordinarily that many people would have signed up to such a specialist course of learning. It appears to have gone viral! For those that have opted for other learning, they too are showing their Growth Mindsets - we may never experience such a universal, situational desire to learn something new and many are taking advantage of that and taking the positive out of the negative by looking for the opportunities - another attitude of the Growth Mindset.
We are all learning to trust in our politicians, particularly after the rough ride that was Brexit. Whatever your standpoint on Brexit, I think we can all agree that we went through a difficult 5 years and that many people lost faith in our democracy and political system. Perhaps this moment is yet another way that things are being realigned as the country does feel like it has pulled together and pulled itself together once again. Not only that, but relationships with other European stated can be distracted by what is happening and find many reasons to pull together rather than push apart. Learning together may bring some unity once more in having a common goal to bind us.