Sometimes, our most talented students are also the ones who struggle with flexibility the most. When students are used to things coming easily, they often lack the coping skills for remaining calm and finding creative or unexpected solutions. Creativity is flexibility and creativity is difficult.
In this lesson (found on the Resources page), we give you a whole group activity to teach what qualifies as a flexible mindset or reaction as opposed to a rigid mindset or reaction. These lessons are meant to simply be a starting point. Use this chance to talk about instances that have been true of your grade level in the past.
Caution: Do not use this as an opportunity to slyly mention an undesired behavior of a student currently in your room. Remember, you need to build and maintain trust with your students. If you are bringing a real issue to the group, it should be designed in a way that allows each student (especially the one participating in the undesired behaviors) a chance to respond and speak to the issue. A whole group activity that calls a student out without structure for them to respond and restore just feels like a trap. Use this lesson early to help set clear expectations for what you value in the classroom.
From here on, keep an eye out to praise flexibility and creativity in both social and academic situations. Maybe keep a running list of the ways students have shown flexibility in class. Don't forget - this is another great update to share with parents. It helps to show parents that you value the whole process of learning and will reinforce flexible thinking with your students.
This lesson's opening vignette was inspired by one of our favorite podcasts, Hidden Brain. If you want to listen to the full episode and hear the perspective geared toward adults, copy and paste this link into your browser or find "Hidden Brain: You 2.0 - Why disorder may be good for us" in your podcast app.