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The Power of WHY NOT
We hear a lot of whys when we’re adults. And especially if we have children. Why is the sky blue? Why does a caterpillar turn into a butterfly? Why do you eat so many cheeseburgers, Daddy? We hear a lot of why’s, and we hear why’s from our staff too. Why do we have to do this? Why are you asking me to do this thing? It happens, but today’s guest likes to flip it. It’s not so much about why, what if we can frame it to why not? I like that question. I know I think about it all the time when I’m dreaming up different ways that I wanna serve Ruckus Makers. Why can’t we or what would need to be true if? And these are great questions that unlock possibility, imagination, curiosity. And my guest today is a specialist in terms of confidence. If you could grow in your confidence, you’ll learn some things, but more importantly, if you’re interested in helping your students grow in their confidence. But we’ve got some very helpful information for you on that today. Hey, it’s Danny, Chief Ruckus Maker over at Better Leaders, Better Schools. This show is for Ruckus Makers, which means that you invest in your continuous growth, you challenge the status quo and the status end quo. You challenge the status quo and you design the future of school now. And we’ll be right back after these messages from our show sponsors.
What do the most effective leaders all have in common? After coaching and mentoring thousands of school leaders, I’ve identified seven key areas that make Ruckus Makers highly effective. When you download the School Leadership Scorecard, you’ll identify the highest leverage opportunities for you to grow in the next 90 days. And you can complete this tool in 10 minutes or less. Get your free copy of the School Leadership Scorecard at Better Leaders Better schools.com/scorecard. How would you like to increase student talk by an average of 40% more student ownership? More student discourse? Check it out for yourself by trying out Teach FX. Go to teach fx.com/betterleaders to pilot their program today. If executive functioning skills are integral to student success, then why aren’t they taught explicitly and consistently in classrooms? I have no idea. I have no idea why that doesn’t happen. But what I do know is that our friends over at Organized Binder have created a new course that will teach your teachers how to set up students for success via executive functioning skills. Learn [email protected]/go. Hello, Ruckus Maker. Today I am joined by Namita Prasad, who is a confidence educator and the author of The Power of Why Not. Her Revolutionary Approach to Confidence Development, redefines Confidence as a Mindset She believes Anyone can become confident and develop the framework. And she developed a framework called a Confident Mindset School Program for K eight students to create a school-wide culture of confidence, encouraging children to say why to opportunities. Namita, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Danny. I’m so happy to be here.
Absolutely. Let’s start with your book, the Power of Why Not, it’s a very interesting title. And what would you say in terms of what’s the difference between why versus why not thinking?
Thank you for asking the question. As educators, as parents, as coaches, as well-meaning adults, we love to offer children the best opportunities that we can. If you go to a seminar, we find something new, we bring it back to our schools and we’re like, Hey guys, look what I’ve learned. Let’s do this and what do we hear? But why, but why do we have to do this? We believe that understanding what confidence is and how to become confident is the bridge from children saying why to them saying, why not, let’s give it a shot. That’s why the why not movement, and that’s why conference education.
Brilliant. And how did your dad help shape your view on confidence?
This is a topic that’s very close to my heart. My father, Brigette Prasad was in the Indian Army. I grew up on an army basis. So every 18 months we were in a new atonement. And it was an interesting childhood. And as a child, I would tell my dad, I just made friends. And now again, we have to move again and my dad would look at me and he would say, ‘Yeah, we do. Why not?’ Well, at that time I was still, I would say early elementary, we’ve moved to this new city and I was having a tough time making friends. And my dad came to me one day and I said to him, ‘I just don’t feel confident, I don’t have any friends.’ And he said, ‘You don’t need to be confident.’ And I looked at him and I said, ‘What do you, you are an army guy. What do you mean?’ Everybody in the world tells me to be confident and you are telling me don’t be confident. I said, what do you mean? He goes, ‘You don’t have to be confident. Go out and meet people and over a course of time you’ll become confident.’
And I did that. I went out and I met one or two people, and over a week or so I started feeling more confident and started sinking into my brain, into my heart, into my soul, over a period of time that he was that one person that never told me to be confident. He always told me it was a journey that I would become confident in. And that’s sort of where this journey started.
That’s a good story and you’re pulling on these ideas of being versus becoming. Thank you for the story. Is there anything else you wanna add to this journey or this concept of being versus becoming. I think they really like to be and to be right now. And how do we do it, figuring it out and all this kind of stuff versus appreciating the journey of becoming, of letting ourselves evolve. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Obviously I went into college and then I had an arranged marriage and I came to the United States as an immigrant. And once again my confidence was a little bit shaky. Being in a new culture, being in a new marriage with someone I didn’t know very much. Again, in my personal life, I’m not even talking about as in my business life or my professional life, this understanding that I didn’t have to be something in that moment that I could become and grow into. That person helped me settle down in a brand new culture, in a brand new country. And over a course of time, my personal life took a lot of turbulence. I went through a divorce, raised my kids on my own, and in times when I felt the lowest, where I didn’t have a lot of self-belief, this mindset of knowing that if I just did what I had to do, I would become confident, help me resurrect myself. And that’s where about 10 years ago when I realized that my life and my children’s life’s trajectory could have been very different if this mindset was not for me.
Makes a lot of sense. Stephen Pressfield talks about the impostor syndrome and calls it the resistance, and that’s like the antithesis of confidence. We all have that negative voice in our heads saying, we’re not good enough, can’t do it. All those nasty things. And he says, what you’re telling me, which is great. It really resonates. you just keep showing up, keep showing up in the emotions, the confidence, the things that we want. We’ll eventually be there. But you have to commit. You have to commit, be a professional, show up. I think what really pulls you through it all is having a big vision. We’ll get to yours in a little bit, but talk to me about this talk to me about this confidence educator idea. I love the sound of it. I call my people Ruckus Makers, but yeah. What’s it mean to be a confidence educator?
Both your questions are why I love talking with you. Both of them are connected. The vision and the name are connected. As I understood that my dad had redefined what confidence meant to me and how I understood it, and how I led my life. I raised my kids, and I started teaching that to other children. And I realized that it was a form of education. It was not an extracurricular activity. It was not a conference building workshop. It wasn’t a program to do in the summer. It was truly an act. It was a part of education. And I realized that every student that understood how to become confident was educated on how to become confident, and had better outcomes in school. And what really interested me was when I would ask educators, do you believe confidence is important, Danny, everybody would say, yes, of course. Why are you even asking me this? But nobody was educating children how to become confident. We expected them to be, but we were not taking the time to make them understand that this is a step-by-step method, and that any child can become confident,
So any child could become confident. That’s great. How do you teach it? You’ve identified a gap. It’s not being taught. We all value it. It’s important we say, but it’s not happening. So how do you teach it?
I’ll give you an overview of this. So the first thing is, before we can teach something, we all need to have a cohesive understanding of what we are teaching. We know what math is and what English is and what kindness is. What is confidence? So let’s unpack that first. A confident mindset has redefined confidence as confidence is a feeling, but it’s not the feeling you start out with. Confidence is the feeling that you get after the actions of practice. So it’s the actions of that child, a, B, C, this is what’s gonna make you confident. So it doesn’t matter where you are right now, wherever you are right now is where you need to be. But if you do the actions of practice, you can become confident. So the first thing we did was redefine what confidence is, because I want little Anna to hear this from Danny, from me, from her teacher, from her coach, from her mom, from her dad, from everyone.
And they’re Anna’s gonna go, I know what it takes to be confident. I understand what it is. We are giving kids mixed messages. Some adults believe that public speaking is confidence. Some believe you just have it, some believe that life teaches you. There’s no clear, clear, cohesive, understanding what confidence is amongst us adults. So first we get on that, and then we explain to a child every way, every which way in their life what it is. So that’s step one. Now that the child understands that they don’t have to be something right now, and that they can become confident, we explain to them the six steps of confidence and also introduce them to a different vocabulary that we call our ACM vocabulary. So Danny, one of the things that I’m passionate about and that I live and breathe is to infuse in a school, a culture of confidence. Every child can become confident. Now how do we develop a culture? Language is very part of it. So we must have our own common vocabulary. And the first one I already shared with you, be confident versus become confident. So we’re gonna scratch and be confident from our mental, from our vocabulary. Always tell a child, ‘I know you don’t understand this math problem. Don’t worry about it. You can become confident.’ And the child’s gonna go, ‘oh, okay.’ So that’s one of our common interests. So as I explain the six steps, I’ll also be going into the common vocabulary because they kind of interrelate. So step one, step one to becoming confident is to believe in ourselves. When we send our children to school every day, when I’m driving my daughter or anybody driving their child to school or walking them to the bus stop. ‘Now don’t forget your homework and make sure to do your spelling test and do this’. But what about if we just spend a little bit of time and say, ‘What is it that you’re good at? What makes you you? What’s uniquely your strength? Let’s find that. Let’s own it. Let’s recognize it.’ And let that also be a poster in your room. You’re unique, not something from Amazon, something that makes you you. Number two, there’s a lot of pressure in the universe right now about overcoming fears. Like, if you wanna be successful, you have to overcome your fears. We see at ACN, which is a confident mindset, Anna, you don’t have to overcome your fears. All you need to do is recognize what those fears are and find coping mechanisms to face fears. Our children post covid have a lot going on. they’re still trying to get their things on the ground. And so are the educators. We wanna tell children that again, where they are in their journey is where they need to be. But let’s find out what your fears are. What came out of covid? What’s coming back? What are you facing right now as teenagers? What are you facing as high school students, as elementary school students? And let’s find coping mechanisms. We offer coping mechanisms for facing your fears. Now, that’s the first step. So to build confidence are three pillars. Courage, character, and Confidence. E courage, character, commitment. And I think you talked about commitment before, but I’ll get to it in a second. First two steps to courage. Believe in yourself and face your fears. But Danny, you and I both know, and so does everybody that’s hearing this, this recording and this podcast, is that courage without character is directionalist. We definitely don’t want our students to have all this courage that does not have the compass of character. So to develop confidence once we help them find their courage by believing in themselves and facing their fears. We talk about character, positive character traits. When we talk about positive character traits, which is a third step. It’s about how can you be good to yourself, gratitude, accountability, time management, and how can you be? How can you be good to others? Helping your family, which we call family contributions, helping at school, being kind. And children know this, they hear this. But if you put it in context and say, look Anna, when you are good to yourself and you put your stuff away the night before and you’re ready for school, and then you go to school and you ask a teacher, how can I help you? How does it make you feel?
It makes me feel really good, Ms Namita, I feel really good about myself. Step one, believe in yourself. We explain to Anna how her positive character traits that everybody’s telling her to do actually helps her believe in herself, which boosts her confidence, which prepares her better for life. So kind of putting perspective in the child’s mind than when we are telling them to have positive character traits. It’s not just ’cause it’s the right thing to do. Yes, it’s the right thing to do, it’s the right thing to do for you as well. And then we come to the words and then we come to the third C, which you started off with. And I always tell the children, look, you can have the courage then most of us have good character values. But if we don’t get out this sofa and put away that iPad, confidence is not gonna come. We have to show up, as Danny said, and we have to perform the AOPs, the actions of practice have to do your a o p. You have to do the practice. And when you do that, you will become confident because you’ll make progress. I’m gonna digress here for a second. One of the things that we really encourage teachers and parents to do is to reprogram the word practice in a child’s mind. As of today, if you ask Anna or David or Jonathan, what does practice mean to you? It means their mom telling me to practice my instrument. To practice homework. That’s what it means. Ms. O what we want is we want to change the way we speak at school and say, look, Jonathan, thank you for practicing good behavior by helping me clean up the classroom. Thank you for practicing kindness. Thank you for practicing this. So the child begins to have a positive connotation on the word practice. It’s no longer dred like, oh, one more thing for me to do. Step five is just, just get the child to get up and do the actions of practice. Now, as we both know, and so do our listeners repeatedly doing a task doesn’t get us better. We have to get feedback. So I’m gonna spend a little bit of time on step six, which is really a change maker here. We encourage the child to form a circle of confidence around them. Those are well-meaning people, rocks and champions as we call them to surround them. So let’s say Anna is working on soccer. They’re like, we wanna get better at soccer. We wanna get another soccer team. We want to become confident soccer players. ’cause Confidence is situational. Now we’re talking about confidence in the realm of soccer. Who can help me? Uncle Sam, ADI, Suzy can, the soccer coach can.
Now I’m gonna take the time. Jonathan’s gonna take the time and reach out to these people and say Uncle Sam, would you be my champion? If I have a question, can I call you? Will you come meet me at the field? Build those relationships, not write them down in the notebook and then put the notebook away, but actually reach out to them and build this support system. And this works really well in schools. If you’re doing a robotic competition and you make a wall of confidence and everybody puts what they’re good at, kids can pick and choose rocks and champions of themselves, and then they get feedback. So feedback also, we have a common language. We call it glow and grow. Whenever we give feedback, we always ask that you first of all address the child by their name. Give them something positive. We say, no matter how bad the situation is, even in a situation of discipline, behavior, something that opens the child’s mind to receive and then give the feedback. And if you do this, that’s a culture change. Literally a child will say, but Mr. Danny, you didn’t gimme a glow and grow, oh, sorry, let me go again. This is the culture. So these are the six steps. I’m just gonna go over the six steps one more time. So the three Cs are courage, keratin commitment. The first step is to believe in yourself. Second is face your fears. Third is to be good to yourself. Fourth is to be good to others. Fifth is regular practice and six is better practice. So those are the six.
Got it. And I bet all these practices and the three Cs are in that book. The power of Why not, which I encourage Ruckus Makers to check out. In the meantime, I’m enjoying our conversation. We’re gonna pause here just for a second to get in a message from our sponsors. And when we come back, I think I’d just like to ask you what it looks like when schools work with you and your team? And then we’ll get to the questions I ask all my guests. In post pandemic classrooms, student talk is crucial. And when classrooms come alive with conversation teachers and students both Thrive, Teach FX helps teachers make it happen. The Teach FX instructional coaching app provides insights into student talk, effective questions, and classroom conversation quality. Teach FX professional development compliments the app and empowers teachers with best practices for generating meaningful student discourse.
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Learn [email protected]/go. Teachers, students executive functioning skills and set them up for [email protected]/go. We’re back with Namita Prasad. We’ve been talking about her wonderful book, the Power of Why Not, and before the break we heard about the six steps of confidence in the three Cs. So thank you for unpacking that with us. What does it just look like? Is there a case study, a story about a school you’ve supported, or if you just wanna talk in general what it looks like when you support a school.
I can talk a little bit about all of those three. So schools right now, teachers are overwhelmed. There’s a lot going on. Like they’re trying to do all the instructions. They have all these expectations, scores that they have to do. So we try to make our programming very easy to implement and navigate. So the program is over 30 weeks. Every week has a different topic. All of these are on Google slides. And the teacher has all the cues and all the word tracks right there and all the links to the activities. So they literally could just sit in and be the guide. We want them to be guides. The discussion points are open-ended, which leads to open ended discussions. Also Danny to bring change. Like I said, this is a grade by grade program.
Transformation cannot happen overnight. It cannot happen in grade three and not happen in grade four. We have to do the step, it’s kind of step by step. So we started pre-K all the way till eighth grade because we want these children to understand what it takes. And even like we’ve seen over course of time how they think about kindness changes from second grade to fifth grade. But how they connect kindness to confidence also changes and gets further embedded in their brain. So it’s a full pre-K through eight program. It can be taught 45 minutes a week, either in three 15 minute sections or 45 minutes sections. The teachers can decide based on their schedule. So that’s how the program is offered. We’ve had schools, we have principals that have told us that the children have taken a lot of this information back home. And then when they do their parent workshops, ’cause we offer a parent workshop I know parents have said like, you know what, I’m getting a lot of growth and glows from my child. Thank you very much. And we also have vocabulary like one word check-in wherein one word we check in how the child is feeling. All of these things have brought change in school, on the soccer field and in people’s homes. So that’s how we are doing it, as I told you from the beginning. Very cohesively.
Brilliant. Namita, I love to ask you the questions I ask all my guests at the end of the show. And we’ll start off with, if you could put a message on all school marquees for a single day, what would your message be?
My message would be what my, the essence of my life is. No one is born confident, but anyone can become confident.
Awesome. If you were building your dream school, and you had no constraints in terms of resources, your only limitation was your ability to imagine how you would build your dream school? What would be the three guiding principles?
I’ll need my three principles. ‘This is like a beautiful question. My curriculum and my program would be first about the mind, then about the skills. And it would not be outcome based, it would be actions of practice based. So what that means is that I would first talk to a child about building their mindset to receive information before I give all this, I understand I have to teach math, English, and all that, but before I teach any subject, I’m gonna just have them work on their mindset and get them ready to receive. So when they’re walking into the classroom, it’s, they’re not in that classroom because of their date of birth. They’re in there because their mind is ready to receive. And once they, the mindset is in place, then I would embark on the skillsets telling them that the outcome is not perfection. It’s not an A, B, or C, but I’m gonna be, we’re gonna be gauging them on their effort, on their character values and how they believe in themselves. How they help someone else who’s champion they were, whose rocks. So the way we assess success would be more on helping each other become their best, fighting ourselves, facing our fears and the actions of practice. If they learn this, it doesn’t matter what subject they did, through what profession they go into, which country they live in, they will not only find success with themselves, but they’ll make success for others.
Lovely. And we covered a lot of ground today, Namita. So everything we discussed, what’s the one thing you wanna Ruckus Maker watching or listening to? Remember?
Dear Ruckus Makers, you guys are awesome. You’re already making a lateral ruckus. My one request to you is let’s please change our narrative from saying be confident to become confident. I think that’s where we’ll bridge a lot of children from feeling that they’re not good enough to knowing that they can be good enough.
Thanks for listening to the Better Leaders, better Schools podcast, Ruckus Maker. How would you like to lead with confidence, swap exhaustion for energy? Turn your critics into cheerleaders and so much more. The Ruckus Maker Mastermind is a world-class leadership program designed for growth-minded school leaders. Just like you. Go to Better Leaders, better schools.com/mastermind. Learn more about our program and fill out the application. We’ll be in touch within 48 hours to talk about how we can help you be even more effective. And by the way, we have cohorts that are diverse and mixed up. We also have cohorts just for women in leadership and a BIPOC only cohort as well. When you’re ready to level up, go to BetterLeadersbetterschools.com/mastermind and fill out the application. Thanks again for listening to the show. Bye for now and “Go, make a ruckus.”
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