by Stuart Adams from Top of the Class Professional Tuition Sydney.
Have you ever started a sports training session without a warmup? And why is the warmup so important anyway? With physical activity, muscles may be cold and need to warm up to be more flexible and less prone to injury. Activities involving mental training are no different.
Remember that by the time you begin a class, lecture or any other kind of coaching session, there is a good chance that the people you are aiming to motivate might be feeling stressed, lethargic, and in no mood to learn. Consequently, the first thing you should aim to do is promote a positive state of mind to ‘warm up’ your students or audience. To do this, you must first be mentally warmed up yourself.
State Of Mind Is Contageous
Remember that state of mind is contagious. If you walk into a negative environment unprepared, any negativity already circulating around your students may rub off onto you. It is important therefore that you ‘infect’ those around you with positivity instead. For this, you must be in a positive state of mind yourself. Specifically, the best state of mind for a teacher is to be confident, enthusiastic and approachable.
This is easy to say of course, but what if you’ve had a bad day too? If you’re not already in a good mood, how do you just snap yourself into a confident, enthusiastic and approachable character?
How To Prepare For A Positive State Of Mind
For starters, the more prepared you are, the more confident you will be. Preparation is the first ingredient in any recipe for confidence. Once you are well prepared and know what you’re doing however, there are some simple psychological techniques you can use to alter your state of mind.
Use The Past To Your Present Advantage
After you’ve finished reading this description, close your eyes and think about a time where you were feeling full of energy, happy, enthusiastic about what you were doing and hopeful about the future. It may be a recent occasion or it may be from your childhood. Either way, take a moment to visualise specifically, what you could see at that time. Focus on the faces of people around you, the scenery, the colours – as clear as you can.
Listen to what you could hear. Were there voices, music or background noises?Remember what you could feel. Was it cold, cool, hot or warm? Were you sitting, standing or moving? Imagine feeling the ground underneath you, chair underneath you, or whatever was touching against you at the time.
Depending on what was happening during the event you are reliving in your memory, there may also be smells or tastes that you can recall. Either way, close your eyes and spend at least 30 seconds slowly bringing back all the sights, sounds and feelings (including emotions) that you were experiencing during that memory until eventually, it feels as though you are reliving it.
Relax… take as long as you need to do this, and once you feel like you’re there again, hold onto the specific emotions that were flowing through you in that moment. When you’re ready, open your eyes and, still holding onto that feeling, you should now be a lot closer to that state of mind than what you were as little as one minute before hand.
The best time to do this might be a couple of minutes before you start your lesson.
Holding Onto A Positive State Of Mind
Although these ‘reliving the moment’ techniques might adjust your state of mind temporarily, it is easy to loose that state once confronted with a situation you are not feeling confident about. After all, you have just drawn on past memories for your present state of mind, but how can we use that to affect the way the immediate future plays out? This is where you may find imagination techniques to be particularly useful.
Once you have attained the right state of mind, as you hold onto those memories and those feelings, imagine watching yourself having a fantastic lesson. Imagine the look of inspiration on the face of your students. Imagine the look of appreciation on the faces and in the voices of the parents talking about how inspiring you are to the other parents. Imagine your sense of satisfaction as you are finishing the lesson and everything has gone just as you planned.
If you mentally and emotionally rehearse having the perfect lesson, you are much more likely to live it out. As Albert Einstain famously said: Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
What Is Imagination?
Imagine you could program your unconscious mind according to the way it must think to achieve a desired outcome. Based on this understanding, it would appear that your unconscious mind can be ‘accessed’ by consciously controlling your imagination. The unconscious mind doesn’t seem to be good at determining the difference between reality and imagination. You might as well take advantage of it then, not just for creating enthusiasm, confidence and approachability for your students, but for every aspect of your life.
Imagination: Not Just For Children
Many of the most successful people report imagining their success happening before they actually attempt any certain task. If this sounds silly, consider a famous study where college students were divided into different groups’ after testing their accuracy of shooting basketball hoops.
One group was instructed to practice shooting hoops for half an hour every day, whilst another group was told not to do anything physically, but just use their imagination and visualise shooting hoops for the same amount of time. A third group was told to do real practice for 15 minutes, and imaginative practice for 15 minutes, whilst a fourth group did no practice at all (control). At the end of the study, the control group made the least improvement, the group who only did physical (real) practice improved the next best. The group who did imaginary practise improved the second most, whilst the group who had done both real and imaginary practice showed the greatest improvements.
The lesson here is; never underestimate the power of our imagination to make things real. Chances are, by the time you intervene; your students have already spent emotional energy imagining their failure, which as you now know means certain disaster unless that changes. Whenever you’re feeling uncertain or lacking confidence about something, use your imagination to mentally and emotionally rehearse it going well first.
As a teacher, trainer, sydney tutor, coach or anyone charged with the responsibility of facilitating learning and motivating for change, remember that the state of mind you bring to the game will have the biggest impact on the state of those you are aiming to change. Considering that mental ‘warm up’ exercises don’t need to involve sweating, burning calories, physical discomfort, resources or expense and can be done easily and freely all in your mind; it might be worthwhile considering investing a bit of time in training your memory and imagination. It will have a significant impact not only on you, but those around you.