I am on a hill looking down on Park City, Utah, and what am I thinking about – getting better at mountain biking.
You see, I’m a relatively new mountain biker, so when I get on my bike, I think, don’t forget to shift as you go uphill. Remember to lower your seat when the trail gets really bumpy. Then I worry that my slow pace has my husband George slogging behind me.
I ask, “Do you want to go in front so you can go faster?”
“No thanks, I like being in the back with Ranger. I keep my pace with him to make sure he doesn’t stray off.” (If you knew our dog, Ranger, you would know this is a valid concern.)
You see, George has no concern for how fast we go or how well he bikes. He just loves to ride even though he is new at it too. If someone could hear our internal thoughts as we ride, I think they would sound very different.
Tammy: “I’m not sure I can make it up that hill.”
George: “The downhill will be awesome.”
Tammy: “Watch out. Don’t hit that rock.”
George: “These dogs love to run alongside us.”
Tammy: “That is a tight curve. Lower your seat.”
After seeing the pictures my husband took on our first ride and listening to what he loved, I decided to adopt his stance on our next ride – “Enjoy the view. Enjoy the company. Enjoy the ride.”
The next day we went back to the same trail. This time when the uphill trail got steep, I channeled my meditation tape, took a deep breath, and spoke back to myself. “You will get to the top of this trail whether you walk the bike or ride. The views will be gorgeous. Look at what you can see all around you. At that moment, I stopped and took this photo.
As I rode on, I laughed at the dogs’ antics when they got distracted or stuck their snouts down gopher holes.
I also stopped and noticed the chickadee drinking out of a dog water bowl on the trail.
The hills were still tough. The turns were still tight. The rocks still created small gaps to navigate through. Yet, somehow I was less bothered by all of it, and ironically, I rode better than I ever had.
Students want to be better at so many things, and we want to help them get there. To reflect and alter negative thinking patterns, students must first learn to identify what they are saying. If we can ask during these difficult moments (or later, when things have calmed down), we might be able to help them identify negative thinking patterns. Once students know what they are saying to themselves, they can notice when it happens and how it impacts learning. We can also name and notice our internal thoughts periodically to model our self-monitoring process. Through this process, perhaps we can better understand the way our students feel and help them try on new personas to find joy in the learning process.
From now on, my bike rides will be about “fun.” I’ll walk when the hills get too steep, or the turns become too sharp, and I’ll enjoy the speed I am going, the nature around me, and the people (or animals) at my side.
Enjoy the view. Enjoy the company. Enjoy the ride.
I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic