Keeping a Healthy Mindset In a World That Feels Out of Control

If reading our Teaching Through the Pandemic series has taught us anything, it’s that 1. Teachers are amazing and 2. This is a hard, emotional job that can follow teachers home. So we asked one of our teachers to come back and tell us how to develop a healthy mindset – and how to model that for her students.


Two principles I’ve inserted into my teaching practice AND teach to my scholars are the 5×5 rule and the circle of control. Teaching ourselves to change our mindsets will ultimately allow us to give ourselves and our students more grace. After all, we’re only human.

5 x 5 If it's not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes being upset about it.

  • 5×5 Rule: If it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes being upset about it. I’ve taught this concept to my scholars but changed the time to 5 days and 5 minutes.


    • Teacher Example: You receive a scathing email from a caregiver calling into question your instructional choices demanding to know how you are allowed to “teach that to children” 
    • Student Example: Assessment scores, playground tussles, and hurt feelings are typically when I find myself calming an upset child, by asking, “Is this going to matter in 5 days?” They screw up their little faces trying to think of a way their life has been ruined by someone accidentally drawing on their paper and ultimately come up with nothing. 

Things we can control circle includes words, action, reaction, and effort. Things we cannot control includes time, weather, and others.

  • Circle of Control: There are things in life that we can control (words, actions, reactions, effort) and things we cannot (time, weather, other people). 


    • Teacher Example: Chronically absenteeism. More times than not, this is out of the student’s control (elementary and middle school), because they rely on a grown-up to get them awake to catch a bus or actually drive them to school. Can you control this student’s transportation situation? Maybe, if you are able to speak to the grown-up and try and figure something out. If not, you can control that student’s return to the classroom Make sure that student knows you are happy to have them no matter how many days they have missed.
    • Student Example: INDOOR RECESS! Can we control the weather? No! Can we control our reaction to having indoor recess? Yes! Can we control the activities we do during indoor recess? Yes…to a point. Personally, I like finding a directed drawing related to our content on YouTube or playing Sixty Second Sketch. Jessica from Golden State Classroom, has lots of these on her TPT store or you can create your own!


These two concepts have helped me to not get mired down in the day-to-day slog that can be pandemic teaching. Please, feel your feels! Just don’t get stuck in them. If you can change something, do it. If you can’t, let it be or problem solve how you can. Keeping a healthy mindset is vitally important. So give one or both of these ideas a try and see how easily you can let issues go. 

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