Middle school suicide peaks to an all-time high as depression worsen especially for teen girls! Even caring parents question why teens who appear to have everything, suddenly end their own lives. Yet when teens focus on healthy minds, they also switch on their growth mindset, for new possibilities beyond past problems. The opposite is also true.
Teens often express hopeless feelings, when they encounter essential resources limited to a few, and when they feel trapped in current challenges – without tools to advance. Sadly, teen suicide is now at a 40 year high! Does that describe to you a world where greedy leaders funnel few riches to help most teens? Or can you see problems teens face when expected to absorb boring lectures in a broken education system – that works against human brains for the most part?
It doesn’t have to be this way! What if we help teens to dream and design a finer future beyond their lack of current resources to apply these innovations?
What if learning for teens became a vibrant exchange of fresh ideas and next steps forward toward innovations that offer hope to many when implemented?
Journaling offers a daily opportunity to support healthy minds and raise mental takeaways in any discipline. Here are five mental health tasks my students especially enjoy as they face learning problems with fun solutions and a healthy mind.
- Students identify their strengths through this multiple intelligence survey. Once teens discover their passions in this survey , they being connect to meaningful experiences, and tend to focus more on developing those strengths. The mind remaps itself for whatever we focus on, and a growth mindset led by student strengths, raises their mental takeaways. They see how intelligence is fluid, not fixed for instance, and see how their use of intellectual strengths adds playful new possibilities with hidden and often unused potential.
2. Students learn about their awesome brains’ ability to turn boredom into adventures worth living. Through brief essays about their basal ganglia, for instance, students suddenly see why they feel stuck in failure’s ruts at times. More importantly, they learn how their working memory comes with equipment to help them soar over past failures with a new zest for wonder. Daily, students cut and paste brief essays and reflective tasks on the left side of their interactive notebooks. On the right side – they reflect on ways to apply brain related topics and navigate their unique learning approaches. Can you see how interactive journaling becomes a mental health engine for any new topics they learn?
3. Students learn to make choices that reboot neuron pathways and trigger plasticity’s mind-bending changes in their favor. The interactive notebook helps them to play with relevant ideas, come up with solutions that help them laugh to relax, teach others as they learn themselves, engage their parents in new conversations, and boost mental enzymes that result in real progress they can log, link to a community of related ideas, and celebrate.
4. Growth mindset tasks include strategies to reduce the brain’s stress causing chemicals. When students read and reflect on topics such as cortisol’s ability to shut down learning, amp up fear, raise regrets, maximize test anxiety and even to shrink their brain, they begin to plan ahead for learning adventures beyond stress toxins. In journal reflections, they begin to laugh at personal flaws, thank people, forgive missteps, and let go of blame for mistakes or shortcomings. They brainstorm, try out others’ helpful insights, and practice civil tone as the body language of healthy communication with peers. Can you see why they soon feel less alone with their mental struggles?
5. Students discover how to store emotional responses for a growth mindset. In their interactive journals they compare a tamed and untamed amygdala, to see how this seat of their emotions acts like a lightning rod for test anxiety and other amygdala related challenges teens face. Once they learn to navigate this tiny sac of neurons, teens learn the wonder of acting opposite anger, moodiness, or displeasure. Not surprisingly, this key to a tamed amygdala is also the secret to healthy responses that leapfrog teens over mistakes, emotional panic, and discouragement – on their way to GO for GOLD mentally!
It’s finally here! New 120-page hot off the press interactive notebook comes with 7 essays and dozens of related growth mindset tasks for teens’ personal input. You can also create your own tasks to make mental health a daily action. With brief essays, guidance for brain-compatible topics and reflective learning materials, students simply cut and paste tasks into their interactive notebooks and begin to speak up on topics that bring tangible benefits they can see and celebrate! They especially enjoy tracking their personal progress on a form provided with this notebook.
Do share how you foster a growth mindset among those you mentor, coach, facilitate or lead?