The Power of Pivot
Pivoting is something we think of when envisioning sports or business. But the power of pivot is something so important that needs to be taught sooner rather than later. How do you see the importance of pivoting in your life? Should we actively teach kids to pivot too?
Pivot. We think of pivoting in sports like basketball or in business as changing with the times. But learning to pivot is required in kids too. Flexible thinking, critical thinking, behavior change, learning, risk assessment, cognitive dissonance… all of these require a pivot. Kids are learning so much in academics and social emotional learning that pivoting daily is required.
But do we explicitly teach the power of pivot? Not exactly. In my experience, “soft skills” are pushed to the wayside. Teachable moments about being able to pivot are usually punishments and punitive.
What we forget is that a lot of good stuff comes out of the ability to pivot: creative thinking, persistence, resilience, grit, communication, thinking outside the box, innovation, and one of the biggest ones for me, the ability to ask for help. I think the basis of being able to pivot is being a flexible thinker: considering possibilities, perspectives, situational and personal experiences, biases and feelings (Boyes). We also know that students and teens don’t have brains fully developed enough to think this way. But how do we grow it and allow kids the chance to cultivate it if they never get to practice it?
I worked with a student who told me a book they were reading in class was the worst and just absolutely terrible. But listening to the summary and I was like the tragedy in the stories was a gold mine for critical thinking and the power of evaluation and analysis. He fought me for a bit on this thought that this book held much power to teach him. But after discussing a few of the questions the teacher posed as short answers, my student got it. He changed his thinking about this book and how it could teach him. The ability to look through a different perspective, stick with his cognitive dissonance, follow along with my thoughts even though it clashed with his, and then be able to appreciate the work in a whole other light is the power of pivot. And I made sure I told him that.
Another power of pivot was with another student who is one of my younger ones. She has a learning difference which makes learning a slow going process. But it doesn’t stop her. We keep plugging along. We repeat the same skills because it takes her longer to master. Her power of pivot is the ability to trust me and trust herself. My usual teaching ideas don’t work with her. I need to pivot all the time for her because I need to think of a new way, usually on the fly and in the moment, to help her understand. She also has to pivot because her brain wiring makes it difficult for her to learn “the usual way.” Letter reversals, recalling phonics, and making sense of the world around her makes pivots a necessity. Her pivots center around the idea of resilience and bouncing back from everything that is frustrating to learn.
When parents can’t pivot it directly impacts their children. I have seen a parent’s pride block them from accepting their child’s learning differences to get help or to repeat a grade. I have seen a parent ignore the advice of the school that the skills and mastery of concepts just aren’t there to move on to the next grade. I have seen a fixed mindset in a parent, make excuses upon excuses that people can’t change so their kid is unable to change too. And who suffers the most from this? Children. The biases and feelings, mentioned by Boyes earlier, keeps the flexible thinking, the possibilities, from coming to fruition to help their child. Self sabotage at its very root.
The power of pivot can come from a poor start or a bad morning. What happened if we stopped the downward spiral by resetting, restarting, and pivoting our beliefs and mindset about the day or thing or problem? What happens if we let a pivot change the trajectory of our morning, day, year, or life? Even the 1 degree of change from liquid to freezing is enough energy to change states of matter. What would the ability to change just 1 degree today do for you or your kids?
How do you encourage the pivot? Are you able to shift a bad day to a good one? Do you find solutions or only problems? How do you pivot?
Boyes, Alice. “Become a More Flexible Thinker | Psychology Today.” www.psychologytoday.com, 17 Sept. 2014, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201409/become-more-flexible-thinker.
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