R J Comeau - Curriculum Design & Research
Section 4) Monitor your beliefs and self-talk (and shape them to work for your goals)
Now that you’ve taken the time to express your thoughts and feelings, let’s check in on any troubling beliefs that can interfere with your success in school, and in life. Research has shown that students with negative beliefs about their academic potential do more poorly in school, but when trained to reshape their beliefs about themselves, they do much better (Sapp, 1995; Kaplan and Drainville, 1991; McCombs and Pope, 1994). Cognitive psychologists (psychologists who help people think about their thinking) have demonstrated that our thinking affects our emotions and our behavior. Changing your thinking can lead to better academic behavior, higher grades, and a more positive school experience.
Racism and other forms of oppression can also contribute to negative thoughts and feelings, through internalization. For example, growing up in a racist society can lead the targets of racism to take in negative messaging, which they can fight against to “free the mind.” Repeating racist messaging by the oppressors, who say, “they’re lazy,” can be taken in and lived by the oppressed, who repeat negative beliefs to themselves, such as, “I’m lazy” (Memmi, 1991). Challenging these messages and thoughts is part of a struggle for freedom.
Adapted from “Cognitive Behavior Management Skills for Students”
in Beyond Behavior Modification, by Kaplan and Drainville (1991).
Self-Reflection to reshape your own beliefs
Self-Analysis – Beliefs. Write about one belief about yourself, school, or life, that has interfered with your school work.
Self-Analysis – Where’d it come from? Does it come from personal experience, social expectations, peer pressure?
Self-Analysis – How does it make you feel? Write about how this belief makes you feel.
Self-Analysis – What behaviors did the belief and feelings lead to? Write about how all of this shaped what you do.
Self-Analysis – Challenge irrational beliefs. Fight against social expectations, stereotypes, and peer pressure that can set you up for failure. Use reason, and evidence. Reshape your belief to yield more positive emotions, and a brighter future.
Kaplan, J. S., & Drainville, B. (1991). Beyond behavior modification: a cognitive-behavioral approach to behavior management in the school (2nd ed.). Austin, Tex.: Pro-Ed.s
McCombs, B. L., & Pope, J. E. (1994). Motivating hard to reach students. American Psychological Association.
Noguera, P. (2008). The trouble with Black boys: And other reflections on race, equity, and the future of public education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Sapp, M., Farrell, W., & Durand, H. (1995). Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Applications for African-American middle school at-risk students. Journal of Instructional Psychology.
Copyright 2013-2017 Robert J. Comeau