Are Your Students Out of Their Minds

by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller

If not, maybe they need to get there.

Many of us have been told to think it through, give it some thought, or wrap our mind around it. This type of advice, delivered by well-intentioned parents, friends, or educators, isn’t always helpful. In fact, these suggestions often cut us off from other equally valuable sources of knowledge and keep us stuck in our heads.

Recently a young baseball player swung at a pitch that was over his head and way out of the strike zone. His coach, from the third base coaching box, screamed loud enough for everyone in the stands to hear, “THINK!”

Actually, thinking would be the last thing this batter needs to do as he is standing at home plate waiting for the pitch to be delivered. It would serve him better to get out of his mind, quiet the incessant chatter that frequently appears there, and let his body do what it already knows how to do without the interference of thinking. In this case, the batter needs to get out of his mind and into his body. Don’t think, just react. Allow your body to take over.

This coach, like many adults who have influenced our lives, has unwittingly increased our dependence in thinking. And many of us pass that dependence on to our students. Of course thinking can often be a useful tool. The issue here is not that thinking always a harmful strategy. It is that over-reliance on thinking cuts us off from other valuable and often neglected sources of information. When we rely on thinking we fail to utilize other important data our body is sending us.

Are you struggling with a teaching problem right now? Are you thinking about what you can do about it? Get out of your mind. Pay attention to your body. Perform a body scan. Can you feel the signals?  What is your body telling you? 

Are you feeling minor rumblings and nudges coming from your gut? Is this intuition, inner-knowing, or God talking to you?  It matters less what you call it and more whether or not you pay attention to it.

Did you ever get that feeling that you shouldn’t do something? It could happen when you buy a car, stay home from work, or give your students one of your eloquent lectures. Our guess is that if you didn’t listen to your intuition, you regretted it later. That’s the way it works most of the time. This is an important lesson that could serve us and our students well.

Many of us have been so well trained to focus on and use our thinking apparatus, that our feelings and inner-urges have become obscured. Many students and adults don’t even know the names of their feelings much less have the ability to use them as important data. We have become numb and we have lost access to the valuable signals they send us.

To help students get out of their minds and tune into the important signals their body is sending, use the following Teacher Talk.

“Not sure how to proceed with your term paper? Check it out inside.”
“Give it the tummy test. Your tummy knows the right thing to do.”
“Just let your body take over and do what it already knows how to do.”
“Unclear which part to audition for in the play? Trust your gut.”
“We’re doing too much thinking about making free throws. For the next 10 minutes I want you to watch this video of Derrick Rose shooting free throws. Just watch. Don’t think about it. Now let’s go shoot some free throws. Let your body do the thinking.”
“Not sure who do vote for in the class election? Check in.”
“This might be a good time to get out of your mind.”
“Are classmates tempting you to do something? Listen to your intuition. What is it saying?”

To teach effectively it is often necessary to get out of your mind and learn to pay attention to, recognize, and utilize the inner-urges that are calling you to become the teacher you are destined to be. If you don’t believe us, don’t think about it. Just check it out inside.

Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the coauthors of The Teacher Talk Advantage: Five Voices of Effective Teaching. They are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish a free monthly e-zine for educators and another for parents. To sign up for the newsletters or learn more about the seminars they offer teachers and parents, visit their websites today: and


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