Positive Picturing

by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller


You can call it positive picturing, mental rehearsal, or visualization. Whatever name you give it, the process of having students use their imaginations to picture the positive outcomes of an activity is a powerful tool for helping them achieve their desires.  Practicing an activity in the mind by doing a mental run through is an important element in success used by professional athletes, musicians, business people, physicians, and many others. They know that one significant element related to achievement is the ability to visualize whatever it is you want to achieve.

The tool of repetitious positive picturing is one that can be used by students to help them achieve their goals. This is one way to help them change the way they see themselves. If students can’t imagine themselves as being successful, chances are they won’t be successful.

Consider using Teacher Talk to give your students this important advantage on their next test.

"You are going to be taking the geometry test shortly," a math teacher advised his students recently. "I'd like you to prepare for the test now by taking time to relax and visualize a successful outcome. Sit back and relax. Let your hands and arms go limp. Slowly close your eyes if you choose. Concentrate on your breathing. Notice and pay attention to your stomach muscles as the air in your lungs forces them up and down. Breathe deeply and notice the differences in the size of your stomach. Feel the tension leave your body on each out breath."

Pause for one minute.

"Imagine now that you are taking the test. Watch on the computer screen in your mind as I pass out the papers," he continued. "Notice how confidently you sit. You are alert, full of energy, and ready."

"Watch as you turn the test paper over and begin working the problems. You breeze through the first one and go on to the next. The answers come easily for you. You are relaxed. Your attention is focused on the paper in front of you. It is almost as if you and the problems are working together to come up with answers. The problems are your friends and you enjoy them. You are having fun."

"Notice what it feels like to know you are doing well. Enjoy that feeling. See yourself finishing the problems with time to spare. Know that you have done well. You expect that most of your answers are correct. Enjoy that satisfaction. When you are ready, open your eyes and rejoin us."

"Now, let’s take the test."

The kind of mental run-through described above helps students get a clear picture of what the teacher expects. It creates a mental model of the desired behavior in the students' minds. It provides them with an opportunity to see themselves doing what is expected and to experience positive feelings about it. It doesn’t matter that the experience is imagined. What students can imagine, hold in their minds, and see themselves doing, they can achieve.

Test time can be anxiety-producing for students. A visualization of this nature can soothe the mind and help ease worries and distractions. The relaxation activity alone is enough to help students perform better on the test. Coupled with positive-picturing, you just might get startling results.

Can you see yourself using this technique?  Why not give it a mental run-through?

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: www.chickmoorman.com and www.thomashaller.com


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