I took my dog Benji to the vet the other day. As we sat and waited for the doctor to come into the room, Benji began to sniff the floor and slowly make his way towards the door at the other end of the room.

Benji only got so far and then his leash pulled snug around his neck which made him come to a complete stop.

He stood in that spot and stared at the door.

It really was no big deal for him to roam the room, so I dropped the end of the leash.

Immediately, the collar loosened up but instead of going further, Benji just stood there and continued to look at the door. After a minute or two, Benji turned back towards me and sat down – but he was still looking at that door.

Are you letting limiting beliefs hold you back?

Benji was now operating under the faulty thinking that he could not go to the door. In other words, his experience was creating a limiting belief and that limiting belief was stopping him from trying again.

I tell you this to say that as a teacher, you may also have limiting beliefs that are holding you back. The problem is that when you don’t identify limiting beliefs or you let them take over, you can begin to develop faulty thinking that can make classroom and student success feel out of reach for you – just like Benji felt about that door.

Let’s say that you are thinking about letting the children pour their own juice but then you remember how a child just spilled an entire cup of juice on the floor the day before.

A limiting belief may include: “My children are not capable of pouring their own juice.” Or “My children are not responsible enough.”

Limiting beliefs can prevent you from stepping outside of the box, trying something new, and then working your way through the challenges until you create a new belief.

Limiting beliefs can leave you feeling powerless, afraid, or unwilling to try new things only it tends to come out as; “My kids don’t like books,” or “My kids will just make a mess,” or “I can’t sing,” or “My class is too small,” or “I have too many kids,” or “I’m not allowed,” or “My kids won’t like that,” before you really even get started.

Move past your limiting beliefs.

Giving the children in your classroom the opportunity to build competence and confidence begins with recognizing and identifying your limiting beliefs. One simple way to push past your limiting beliefs is to add the word “but…”.

For example, “I can’t sing but…”  “My kids might make a mess but…” Then finish the rest of that sentence with what you can do, change, try, or tweak to get the ball rolling.

As you start to identify the limiting beliefs that are holding you back, and ultimately your students back, then mentally take a minute to put them inside the box so that you can enjoy more freedom to teach outside of the box.