A few weeks ago Carrie Gottschalk presented at Kimmel Education & Research Center on Behavior Management.  One of the strategies she talked about was reframing our perceptions of what was actually happening, and in the reframing process to think about other rational reasons why the behavior might be happening instead of just jumping to an immediate conclusion.  And that through reframing we might actually realize that the behavior we are having problems with might be a totally normal reaction to what they are experiencing…and that the behavior itself might not actually be that bad.

Today I received an email from Make magazine.  Love those emails because I find them inspirational.  Today, the quote they had in there made me realize that reframing a situation is a strategy used in a lot of different contexts.  Here’s the quote:

“If you call failures experiments, you can put them in your resume and claim them as achievements.” – Mason Cooley, American Aphorist.  

I love this quote because well it has a hint of truth in it. In today’s society we do have the opportunity to reframe a situation which a few decades ago we would have called a failure.  Now we talk about “fail fast”, “failing forward”, “learning from our mistakes and moving on”, and “grit”.  Aren’t these simply a reframing of our own reaction to perceived bumps in the road?

Several decades ago when I was working with student teachers I quickly realized that the best student teaching assignments typically were ones that didn’t quite go perfectly.  The student teachers would come back and complain at first about some bump in the road, but then after the experience were far more likely to come back and talk about how much they appreciated that assignment, and learned from that experience.  Our goal after all with the student teaching semester was to help the student understand what the teaching profession is all about.  I’m not saying we wanted them to have a miserable time, but is it possible to go through an entire career in any profession and never run into a bump in the road?  Is it also far better to learn how to adjust to the bumps in the road when you have a whole team of people ready to help you? Oh yeah, we also wanted them to learn something! 🙂 Learning how to adjust to the bumps is a big part of understanding your fit into a career.  We typically didn’t hear about any learning happening in cases where there were no bumps in the student teaching assignment.  …Hmmm…is a bump in the road a requirement of higher levels of learning (much like a stressor being a requirement for writing a really good movie or fiction book)?  The time that is required to reframe the situation…is that a function of how dramatic the bump was OR how much learning took place? Is this really a function of grit, or perhaps a function of an individual’s ability for self-reflection and an interest and willingness for developing new neural pathways for learning/understanding? Perhaps this whole learning/reframing experience is analogous to understanding how travel and experience with other cultures helps us inform our own daily practices?

Back to Carrie….Carrie would say you need to vocalize three to seven acknowledgements of positive behavior for every one negative behavior you speak about in order to alter the behavior of the person in your class.  ….Are we the same with self-talk?  Do we need to successfully reframe three to seven career reflections for every acknowledged failure in order to have satisfaction with our careers?  🙂  And to what extent is that a function of what we hear from supervisors vs. what we are telling ourselves?  Hmmmmm…. I’m sort of thinking that it makes it hard for supervisors to turn this around since they can’t hear your self-talk.  I’ve read a lot of information about how supervisors greatly influence job satisfaction…but now I’m beginning to think that it might be a function of your own self-talk/ability to reframe that could be a higher predictor of job satisfaction.

So Extension….go forward and when you hit a bump, take some time to think about what you learned from the experience, and how you might be able to reframe that experience!  …Pick a growth mindset!

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1 Response to Reframing

  1. Great post Deb! This really should be shared throughout Extension!

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