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Helping Educators Thrive while Teaching Online, so They Can Help Students Develop Their Potentials and Promote Resilience and Lifelong Learning in Their Communities

Dr. Bethanie Hansen 

Strategic Educational Leader and Coach

#64: This Summer, Start Your 100 List to Lead a Rich and Thriving Life [Podcast]

#64: This Summer, Start Your 100 List to Lead a Rich and Thriving Life [Podcast]

This content first appeared at APUEdge.Com

What are some important things you want to accomplish that will help you lead a thriving and rich life? In this episode, Dr. Bethanie Hansen inspires online teachers to take some time this summer to start a “100 List.” Learn how to think about creating this list of inspiring experiences that will bring richness to your life, how to align these items with your values, and what items can help uplift others, too.

Listen to the Episode:

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Read the Transcript:

Dr. Bethanie Hansen: This podcast is for educators, academics and parents who know that online teaching can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding, engaging, and fun. Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge. I’m your host, Dr. Bethanie Hansen. And I’ll be your guide for online teaching tips, topics and strategies. Walk with me into the Online Teaching Lounge.

Welcome To the Online Teaching Lounge. In today’s episode, we’re going to brainstorm some fun summer plans for the online educator. Not all online educators have summer vacations. If you work for a K-12 school district, perhaps you do have a couple of months where you might have a break from teaching.

Perhaps you’re regrouping after a difficult school year, where there were a lot of stops and starts and interruptions. Whatever the case, summer is a time when many of us traditionally think of rejuvenation. Going on a trip, doing something to rekindle the flame.

The area we’d like to think about today is creating a longer list that is not just for this summer. At the time of this recording, we’re heading into the summer of 2021, but this recording could be valuable to you any time.

We’re going to talk about your list of 100. Earlier today, I was at a brief conference, where Dr. Taniguchi, a BYU professor, was teaching a concept that he began at age 16 in his young life. And that was called a 100 list.

What’s a 100 List?

This 100 list was basically created so that he could list all of the things that he’d like to do to have a thriving life. You might’ve heard of a bucket list. It’s the things you would like to do before you die. Well, this is the opposite. This is a list of 100 things he wanted to do to have a rich and thriving life. Think about that. If we explore all the different things that we would like to have as part of our life, to give us solid experiences, help us keep growing, learning, stretching the boundaries, there might be a whole different set of things that we put on that list. Not quite the same as a bucket list, but maybe there are some overlaps there.

In this situation, I want to introduce you to Dr. Taniguchi. And what I learned from him, you can also find widely on the internet. This man has been chased by Mussai warriors in Tanzania. He has slept in snow caves to survive, swum through New Zealand caves to see glowing worms, stopped a bear from dragging his friend away in his sleeping bag.

He was a professor of experience, design and management, and there are so many things shared about him. Some other accomplishments he has attained are that he’s climbed the front of Yosemite’s half dome. He has paddled the Nile River. He has climbed to the summit of six of the tallest mountains in the world, and coached cross country skiers that were in the last five Olympic Winter Games. He’s from Hawaii. And he has a really remarkable life.

So when this man was 16 years old, he saw a picture in Life magazine, and the picture was a man holding up a list of 100 things he wanted to do before he died. That photo was taken, apparently, because that man had just done the last thing on the list.

The idea was that he started his own list, and it took him a long time to complete writing the list, not to do all the things on the list, but just to decide which 100 things to include. And long since that time, he has in fact accomplished all 100 things on his list. And I have some links to these sources on the podcast notes today. So please check them out.

In another space, he does show the list. And he has some really fascinating things on there. For example, some of the items that he has done that were on his list were to climb to the tallest mountains. He wanted to dip his toe in the Atlantic Ocean, in the Pacific Ocean, and various other places in the world. He wanted to visit all 50 states, learn another language, and a lot of other things.

So if you were to think about creating your own list, there are some rules that Dr. Taniguchi has developed to help you create such a thing. And those rules will really help you get started in deciding what should go on that list.

The first thing he suggests is that it’s a choice to decide to thrive in our lives. And thriving means we’re not just hanging in there, we’re not just enduring, but we’re having a rich and rewarding life. And we have some peak moments that we can really draw on throughout our lives.

As online educators, we do a lot of similar and repetitive things throughout the year. And sometimes those things can be very draining for us. Sometimes they can also be refreshing. But when we create options to help ourselves thrive, then we actually have experiences that perforate that sameness and bring highlights to the year, and to the life as a whole.

So think about what it would take for you to thrive. What kind of experiences you want to have. And then you find opportunities to prioritize those experiences. For example, if you were driving through South Dakota, and you had on your list of 100 that you want to see Mount Rushmore, then you would make it a point to stop there. And if you don’t have that on your list, you might not even think about it or know that it’s located on your drive somewhere.

So by putting things on this list intentionally, you’re going to be more likely to actually do those things. And who knows? Perhaps this summer as an online educator, you’re going to fit a few of those things on your list of 100 into your life.

Choose Items that Bring You Closer to Living Your Values

The second thing besides just simply deciding or choosing to thrive is knowing the values that govern your life. So one of the things Taniguchi says is, don’t put things that you want to try on your list. Don’t just put everything on there that you’re interested in trying, but put things that will actually bring you closer to living your values. And don’t put anything on your list that conflicts with your values, whatever those might be.

So you have to choose carefully and choose wisely, what will make your list of 100. You might come up with 20 or 30 great ideas, and then find the spaces on your paper difficult to fill. I’m curious about how far you’ll get. I started my list of 100 earlier today, and I got to about 35. So now I’m going to have to think about it and come back to that list.

But definitely, when I come to a break between classes or a break in my teaching, and I find that I do have time to get off, and do a trip, or learn something new, or try something new, I would really love to have some great ideas. So building this list of 100 is going to give me some of those ideas I can just look at and make plans for those things.

I talked to someone earlier today that said they had been to Norway and saw the Northern Lights there. That’s something I would definitely want to put on my list. And I’m sure there are many other things that will come to mind when other people mention them, and that I probably wouldn’t think of on my own, but really do interest me. Think about, wisely, what will help you have a thriving life and align with your values, and put those things on your list.

Once It’s On the List, It Stays on the List

Once you put something on your list, Taniguchi has a rule that you cannot take anything off your list. He says, if it was important to you at one point, that meant something to you, and it needs to continue to be important to you.

So one of the stories that this man has told, is that he had a client that he led up Denali, which is, I guess, the highest peak in North America. And the man had been diagnosed with terminal cancer months before the trip. And he almost canceled the trip. And he didn’t say anything about the cancer before the trip, so Dr. Taniguchi did not know that was the situation.

But the experience of hiking up that mountain really changed the man’s life. He got re-engaged, he got married, he finished his last cases at work, and he continued living vibrantly. And before that, when he got his diagnosis of cancer, he felt like giving up completely and he was disengaging from his life. That experience meant the world to him. And he accomplished quite a bit, and had a lot of life left before the end came for him.

So your list of 100 can be inspiring things that give you a life worth living. And it will make your life fascinating to others as well, as you share some of those stories. And it will also help you inspire yourself to keep going.

Add Items that Help Better Yourself and Uplifts Others

Some other tips about creating your list of 100 is to better yourself and uplift others. Each time you accomplish something on your list, you could ask yourself, will this make me a better person? And will it help me to uplift and have a positive effect on others?

So every time you’re going to spend time enriching or bettering yourself, it’s going to make you a better educator and a happier person. And you’re, of course, going to be better at all that you do. And you’re going to be able to be more satisfied with your life, because you have variety, and intense and challenging experiences, and things that you’re really pleased about that you have accomplished.

Add Things that are Outside Your Comfort Zone

Now, some things on your list should be some risks, like a real stretch. I’m not a person who is interested in putting Mount Everest on my list of 100, but maybe you are. Maybe you want to try to do something new that really is far outside your comfort zone.

For me, if I were to write on my list that I want to run a marathon, that would definitely be one of those risks. And I don’t have a whole lot of experience running, but I do think that would be a super fun thing to do. And I would like to add it to my list. And if you’re a person who does routinely run marathons, you can appreciate the fact that for someone who’s never done that, it sounds daunting and challenging and really out of my comfort zone.

And maybe there’s something new that you’d like to do. When I was younger, I would have put learning to ski on that list. And, yes, you can put things that you’ve already achieved in the past that are inspiring to you, that you have already done, that you want to include on the list. That is one of the rules that you can do. So I would love to put that on my list. I did learn how to downhill ski at one point.

And interestingly enough, as I’m talking to a group of educators here on the podcast, I want to share that in my first professional teaching position, I worked in the Marsh Valley School District in eastern Idaho. And one of the things they did over there was, they took the entire junior high to the ski mountain several times during the year, and they taught the kids how to ski.

So I had an opportunity as a teacher to go up there and be a beginner, because I knew nothing about skiing. And I’m really glad I did, because I had some great experiences, and it developed into a lifelong joy of alpine skiing that I shared with my family. And my husband, when I married him, had been a ski patrol or ski instructor, I forget which, but he’s an excellent black diamond downhill skier. So it was kind of helpful that I had at least checked out skiing and had an interest. And then we were able to raise our boys as skiers as well.

So you never know how something you put on this list of 100 things you’d like to do to have a life of thriving is going to enrich your life in even more ways by connecting you to other people, or maybe even creating entire family hobbies that everyone can enjoy.

So this summer, as you’re thinking about what kinds of things might enrich you as an online educator or give you fulfillment or even professional and personal growth, I want to encourage you to get started on your list of 100. To create that list of things that you want to strive to do over the next year, or 20 or 30 years, to have a thriving life and really create peak moments that are worthwhile.

Thank you for being with me here today to consider developing ourselves as people and as educators, and creating rich and thriving lives. I wish you all the best in creating that list of 100, and in your online teaching this coming week.

This is Dr. Bethanie Hansen, your host for the Online Teaching Lounge podcast. To share comments and requests for future episodes, please visit bethaniehansen.com/request. Best wishes this coming week in your online teaching journey.

#45: Classroom Management Can Improve Online Student Success

#45: Classroom Management Can Improve Online Student Success

This content originally appeared on APUEdge.com

Strong classroom management is especially important in the online environment. In this episode, Dr. Bethanie Hansen talks about the need for advanced planning in online classes to keep students informed about what to expect in the class and aid students in managing their own. Strong classroom management can also help teachers build relationships with students while helping them meet their learning objectives, whether it is professional advancement or personal growth.

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Read the Transcript:

Dr. Bethanie Hansen: Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge, the show that helps you teach online with confidence and impact, while living a healthy, balanced life. I’m Dr. Bethanie Hansen, your host for the Online Teaching Lounge.

I used to be a very busy online educator, student, mother, wife, and overwhelmed person. It’s easy to struggle with balance when working in teaching online, and I’ve definitely been there. Over time I’ve learned best practices, strategies to manage time and online work, and I’ve gained tools to help with life-work balance.

As a full-time professor and faculty director at an entirely online university, I help faculty teach with excellence and keep learning new ways to make online education a great opportunity for faculty and for students. Through this podcast today, I’m helping educators become more effective, healthy, and balanced so they can love what they do and impact their students positively. And today we’re going to do that by looking at the objectives, needs, and challenges of our online students, and how we can help them. And let’s get started.

What Motivates Online Students?

In the first area, let’s talk about online students’ motivations, their objective when they chose online education. Adult learners who choose online education really have two main objectives. They want to advance their professional careers, and to develop personally. Of course, there are many other motivations for taking courses online, but we find that these are the highest number of motivations.

Motivated by Career Advancement

When students are learning something to advance their careers, it really means they expect to get something tangible in the future, a reward for the learning they’re doing right now. That long-term reward might be a career change. It might be a salary increase. More opportunities. Or even the chance to get a promotion. This kind of vision for the future is going to help your online students to be intrinsically motivated so that they will be able to achieve the future reward that they really want.

Motivated by Personal Growth

When students are learning something for personal growth, there might be a need to develop personally, benefit from the continuous learning that takes place in a structured program or class, and have something to look forward to.

In a Wiley education survey published in 2020, 76% of those online students surveyed said that they wanted career advancement. Seventy percent of them were also looking for personal growth as well. It was said, while career advancement is the number one motivator for Wiley supported students when starting a program, personal growth keeps them going. That was reported in the Wiley study, and 59% stated that their desire to achieve personal growth motivated them to continue with their program after getting started.

We can help the students maintain their motivation by providing them with regular feedback throughout the course. It’s also particularly motivating when students feel like they’re learning things that matter to them.

Sometimes all it takes is telling them how a particular skill, or new information, is applicable to them now or in the future. But making clear connections between what students are learning and how they can use it really helps them meet their objectives and stay committed.

While online students have a high level of intrinsic motivation to learn so they can develop professionally and personally, they also need support throughout the entire experience. Let’s move on to the second area, which is what students online need, what they must get from you, their instructor, in an online learning experience.

What Do Students Need from Online Teachers?

Particularly, what are the needs of non-traditional students and adult learners? First, it might surprise you, but one thing they really need is good classroom management. This comes from Daniel P. Stewart, an adjunct history and humanities professor at Fayetteville Technical Community College. He said that advanced planning, interesting and relevant lessons, and effective teaching are critical.

Now why do adult learners need these things? In my first teaching position, I attended a middle school educators conference during which Fred Jones taught us about using the physical classroom space for classroom management. His idea was that moving through the room regularly and being physically near each student often during the class, behavior concerns would be dramatically reduced, and engagement would increase.

While that was 25 years ago, a similar idea is still helpful today in online classrooms, and even with adult learners. Classroom management is about planning ahead to communicate and help things go right. In the example I shared about the middle school classes 25 years ago, this took an early arrival by the teacher. It also took setting up chairs in a particular manner, and a plan to move during the session. And to do that, the lesson had to be thoroughly planned and prepared. This meant the teacher would be able to walk around without having to look at the textbook or teaching materials very much during class.

Tips for Effective Online Classroom Management

Online, advanced planning is even more critical, because the course elements need to be placed into the online classroom so that everything is available to learners when they need it. Much of the time the entire course must be ready before the semester even starts.

Some of this advanced planning could take the form of a screencast walkthrough, to help your students know where to find things, and example assignments to illustrate formatting. Perhaps an example assignment might also illustrate the approximate length, or the depth that a student should explore, and grading approaches that you will use.

Another advanced planning element might include a thoughtful course announcement leading into each week. Maybe you want to provide a netiquette guide that tells students how to communicate with each other, and with their instructor throughout the class. A netiquette guide can help a lot, especially for students new to online learning who just don’t know yet that communicating in a discussion space really is different from text messaging. This is a great way to help your students know how to communicate in the online space and comfortably make connections with you and other class members throughout the experience.

Effective classroom management is probably one of the most important responsibilities we educators face in any number of learning environments, whether you’re live or online. Classroom management may be defined as the act of supervising relationships, behaviors, and instructional settings and lessons for communities of learners.

And classroom management really is a preventative activity that results in decreased discipline problems. Basically, preventative management means that many classroom problems can be solved through good planning, interesting and relevant lessons, and effective teaching.

Now when you plan ahead for what you’ll teach and how you’ll teach it, and when you will learn what your students will find most valuable and relevant, you can give your students what they really need. They need relevant, prepared lessons. And they need to learn in ways that support their goals for advancing in their professional career areas, and in their personal development.

And of course, they need connections with you, and with each other, to feel like they belong and stay connected when online education might otherwise become an isolating experience.

How Can Online Educators Help Students with Time Management?

Now let’s move into our third area, online students’ challenges: time management. Online students have challenges with time management and juggling the balance between studying and their work commitments. What does this mean for you as an online educator?

Well first, communicating what to expect from the very first day of class can help your students to plan ahead. In a previous part time faculty position I held online several years ago, I provided students with a sample schedule each week on which I suggested which tasks to complete in the online course every day.

These included suggestions like reading the textbook assignment on Monday, posting in the discussion on Tuesday and taking the first quiz. On Wednesday beginning a draft of their assignment, completing another piece of the curriculum on Thursday, and responding to classmates and their instructor in the discussion on Fridays and Saturdays.

In this way, they would be touching a few pieces of the class every day during the week. This would keep the workloads small every day, and actually give them a lot more reinforcement in their learning, spreading the work out. While not everyone will need this, or use this suggested schedule, providing that kind of help can really assist online students to see what the workload is like. Then they can plan how to manage it.

Second, providing some flexibility when students need it is also helpful with time management challenges. Flexibility does not mean that you go easy on the rigor of the course, or that you’re less accurate with your grading.

Why It’s Important to Show Students that You Care About their Learning

And of course, students need to feel that their instructor really cares that they learn. In a study of 609 online learners, caring was the number one predictor of online instructor ratings. “It turns out that caring is very important, even for adult learners.”

Thinking about what students need in order to be successful in their online experience helps you to get on their side of the challenge. Our students want to feel seen, known, and loved in their learning. And when we give them the tools and strategies that help them along, they experienced a great partnership with us.

It’s also helpful to check in with our students to see how they’re doing throughout the class, and to ask where they could use the most support and guidance. In a survey of online learners in 2020, 63% of students surveyed said that they had problems with time management, and 59% of the students cited that they had jobs that were conflicting and that work commitments were a challenge. “Allowing for flexibility while maintaining the right level of accountability at the program and course level is essential for students to be successful” (Wiley, 2020).

Learn about What Motivates Your Students

Students have a variety of specific objectives, needs, and challenges when they take courses online. We can see their objectives by asking them what they hope to achieve by completing our class. And we know that generally online students start off with the goal of professional advancement, and then they are sustained throughout their learning by continuing personal growth.

Remembering these two motivators can help us assume the best of intentions when we struggle to understand what’s going on with one of our students, or when we think about what would be most helpful in teaching them. With clear objectives, our students need us to plan. They need us to plan ahead and to practice is a high level of classroom management.

Classroom management online is a preventative approach to preparing the classroom itself, and keeping students informed about what to expect every step of the way. Classroom management also means that we build relationships with our students and help them learn how to engage with each other and with us during their experience.

And while we focus on meeting online students’ needs, it’s helpful to remember that the specific challenges they face, like time management and professional work commitments. Knowing about their challenges just might prompt us to reach out when we see students drop off in their engagement, and to be somewhat flexible when students hit unexpected time management snags.

Closing out the podcast this week, I encourage you to get to know your online students better. Learn about what motivates them to take your class, and learn about what their objectives really are. Explore what they need in order to hit their goals. Is there something more you can do in the way you prepare for the next week that will make it even clearer how your students can satisfy their own objectives during the class?

And find out how you might gain additional insight into their challenges. What do they struggle with most in your online course? What is challenging about studying online? What challenges might prevent them from completing the course, but which could be reduced if you were to try a particular strategy, or a particular approach? Once you see your students’ objectives, needs, and challenges, what might you try or do in your online teaching this coming week?

Thank you for joining me today for the Online Teaching Lounge podcast. We’ve taken a look at the objectives needs and challenges of online students, generally, and how we can help them. I hope you will try one new approach this week to help keep your teaching fresh, and help you see your students even more clearly. Best wishes to you in your online teaching this coming week.

This is Dr. Bethanie Hansen, your host for the Online Teaching Lounge Podcast. To share comments and requests for future episodes, please visit Bethaniehansen.com/request. Best wishes this coming week in your online teaching journey.

#40: Benefits of Using the WOOP Tool

#40: Benefits of Using the WOOP Tool

This content was initially posted at APUEdge.Com

Do you want to improve your time management or adopt a new habit? In this episode, Dr. Bethanie Hansen shares the WOOP tool to help you change behaviors, create new healthy habits, and take a fresh approach to online teaching or online learning. Listen to hear the four steps that were developed using neuroscience and motivation theory to help you become more focused, more productive, and more successful in your online teaching and learning goals.

Subscribe to Online Teaching Lounge

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Read the Transcript:

Dr. Bethanie Hansen: This podcast is for educators, academics and parents who know that online teaching can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding, engaging, and fun. Welcome to the Online Teaching Lounge. I’m your host, Dr. Bethanie Hansen. And I’ll be your guide for online teaching tips, topics and strategies. Walk with me into the Online Teaching Lounge.

Teaching online and learning online can happen anytime, anywhere. For this reason, it may be challenging to set boundaries, to manage time, to prioritize the tasks to be done, and to manage everything else in life.

Perhaps there are aspects of your online work that you have tried to change, but you find that you keep returning to less effective strategies. In today’s podcast, I’ll give you a new tool to help you with time management. It will also help you focus on what you would like to accomplish in your online teaching or, if you’re an online learner, in your online schooling.

You can also use it to change habits and behaviors, so it can easily be applied to other areas of your life. This tool will help whether your task is big or small, you might be teaching one class or have to write one assignment, or you might be teaching five classes and need to grade 120 essays. Either way, this tool is based on neuroscience, motivation theory, and it will give you more of what you want and help you spend your time wisely.

If you need to get through circumstances you cannot control like having to self-quarantine or having children at home when they would normally be at school and other unexpected challenges you are facing, this tool will help.

What Challenges Are Keeping You from Being Productive and/or Effective?

Before I share it, think about three things that keep you from being focused in your online learning or teaching right now. And if focus is not really your concern, think about three things that keep you from being successful or effective as you would like to be, in your online learning or teaching right now.

I asked this question to faculty, students, and academic leaders a few months after the pandemic erupted and significantly impacted the way people lived and worked. And I’d like to share some of their answers with you.

  • First, we have the relationships in the home environment. Kids, having children at home, homeschooling children, children wanting to be in the office space, wanting to play. A husband, wife, or partner wanting to talk while they are home. Other family issues, dogs, cats, or other pets, maybe the dog needs to go out, go for a walk or something like that.
  • Next, we have health areas. They could be health issues, allergies, fatigue, or getting sick.
  • And then of course we have the environment we work with. TV might be on. Distractions. Being easily distracted, maybe our own ability to concentrate or our own stress levels.
  • Perhaps it’s just the unknown, feeling anxious or worrying.
  • The internet speed and connectivity, the office setup, or lack of an office space.
  • And, lastly, we have areas of productivity, expectations and work-related tasks. These could be texting, constant email interruptions, maybe you hate grading papers, multitasking, difficulty finishing one project before starting other commitments, taking on too much, not enough time to complete these tasks and personal commitments, or maybe you find it difficult to say “no.”

Many of these challenges are really just a normal part of working from home and teaching and learning online, or even normal parts of life. They can become even more significant when other circumstances have changed, like family members being present when they normally might be at school or work. When there is more going on like political unrest and pandemic concerns.

And some of these challenges really are unique to the conditions faced during the pandemic. As you think about these challenges, consider the experiences you have when you face these challenges. What is the impact on you?

You might have less sleep or irregular sleep. Your energy could be impacted. If you typically exercise and are more active, you can’t always do that now or you don’t feel like getting started. Your enthusiasm is reduced. You may have begun your approach enjoying and wanting to teach online and as these things have continued to impact you, you’re “want to” moved down to the “should” level and then should may have become “need to” and that became even less compelling when it became “have to.”

Anything we approach with the belief that we should do it, we need to do it, or we have to do it is beyond our control it seems. It’s as if there’s this demand placed on us from outside us that now controls our time and our mental space as well.

Whenever we perceive something this way, another impact is that we find it difficult to find solutions or even find our focus and we lose our creativity. Long-term, these impacts on our health and wellbeing are very significant. And the challenges of managing these things that impact our online learning or online teaching also impact our relationships, our sense of purpose in the work, and our life satisfaction. We can see that changing things might help. We’ll bring these ideas back later in the podcast when I share the tool with you.

How the WOOP Tool May Help

The good news is that I’m sharing a tool with you today that can help you turn things around; this tool is called WOOP, or W-O-O-P. It’s a simple tool I discovered recently that I think you’ll find simple and powerful. Well, what is WOOP?

First, I’ll tell you what WOOP is. It’s a tool that uses two different types of strategies. These are mental contrasting and implementation intentions. The tool helps change behaviors and achieve goals. It’s based on neuroscience and theories of motivation and goal attainment.

If you get really excited about this tool and want to dig deeper into these areas, I suggest reading the book, “Rethinking Positive Thinking” by Gabriele Oettingen. Each letter of the strategy stands for one step and the steps are “Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, and Plan.” Now I’m going to break these down for you to walk you through the WOOP process.

Step One: Wish

What are you trying to accomplish? In this step you’re going to state your goal. It should be something challenging, but realistic. If you include aspects that seem compelling to you, this will make it even better. But choosing something out of reach and unrealistic when you use this tool will actually make the process more difficult and completely unmotivating.

The timeline of your goal does not really matter, it could be goal that you want to achieve today, tomorrow, next year or five years from now. For the topic we are addressing today in this podcast, I suggest choosing a specific goal in your online teaching and learning. It could be a teaching task, another aspect of working online, your self-care or family areas.

Here are a few examples from online professionals that have shared their goals with me:

  • staying focused during work time or completing work in a timely manner
  • delegating to others more effectively or providing clearer guidance to people who are waiting for my step on a project
  • writing or updating an online course
  • seeing a project through to completion
  • completing grading, getting grading done on time, grading more efficiently, or establishing a consistent schedule in relation to student grading
  • checking some smaller tasks off the to-do list that have piled up
  • writing for publication or planning scholarly activities
  • reading more academic articles instead of watching TV
  • prioritizing various work activities and priorities
  • working on school studies more regularly or working in your online teaching more regularly
  • making self-care a priority
  • reducing stress
  • taking time for exercise in the morning, and
  • setting boundaries with family members when it’s time for online work

Think about what you would like to accomplish. Is it something you would like to change or improve? Is it a habit you would like to begin? After hearing the many examples I’ve shared with you, you can see that something big or small would work and it can be short-term or long-term. Just take a moment to choose one goal that you’re trying to accomplish for this first step and write it down.

Step Two: The Outcome

What is the best possible outcome that would result from accomplishing your goal? Yes, you might consider the immediate outcome, like the fact that your grading would be done, or you would finish the project.

And let’s take that outcome even further. What’s it going to do for you? For example, here are three example outcome statements I really like, maybe four.

  • “I have more energy and feel better about myself.”
  • “I am relieved and feel proud of myself.”
  • “It gives me sense of accomplishment and pride and I’m happy that I’m using my time wisely.”
  • “I have a positive feeling that I’m taking care of my students.”

As you consider the best possible outcome that would result from accomplishing your goal, write this in the present tense as if it’s already happening. This step is going to give your brain some visualization to begin anticipating what you will feel or experience.

You already know that accomplishing this goal is going to be important to you and it’s going to help you. The outcome takes it to the next level by helping you give it even more purpose and meaning. Take a moment to craft your outcome for this second step and write it down.

Step Three: The Obstacle

What are the obstacles that prevent you from achieving your goal? What’s standing in the way between you and your goal? Earlier I asked what three things were keeping you from focusing or being as successful as you would like to be in your online teaching and learning and then I shared many ideas other online professionals have mentioned about their work.

Now we can take those things and turn them into a more detailed idea. Here are some examples:

  • “I don’t feel motivated or excited to exercise in the morning.”
  • “I procrastinate and get distracted by Facebook or other social media.”
  • “I’m tired when I get home from work and just don’t feel like reading.”

As you think about your obstacles to reaching the goal, just list one specific thing that is tangible, as an obstacle that comes up for you. As in the previous step, visualizing the obstacle is going to give your brain that connection to what you’re thinking about, and it will anchor your thinking in the process. The obstacle will come up again for you in the future and it’s important as part of this process to write it down. So take a moment to identify one specific obstacle you are personally facing related to your goal and write it down.

Step Four: The Plan

What are you action would help you when this obstacle shows up? The plan will be one sentence, structured like an “if–then” statement or a “when–then” statement. You will be able to create this plan and visualize it your mind. The sentence starts with: “When ____ (that would be the obstacle), then I will ____ (and that’s the action to overcome the obstacle).”

An example might be that “When I wake up, then I will see my exercise clothes and shoes I’ve set out the night before, put them on and exercise anyway. Even if I’m tired and don’t feel like exercising.”

This of course is my own example, my own scenario. I learned that I never feel like exercising in the morning, but I really want to. It takes time to get out the clothes and put them on or set up what I’m going to do. Because of that I actually started planning ahead the night before, and I put my exercise clothes and the shoes on the bathroom counter so I see them when I first get up and go into the bathroom.

I don’t have to make any decisions. I don’t have to look through my closet for exercise clothes. That resistance is totally eliminated. I also set out my exercise equipment, like my hand weights, my workout video DVD, my headphones, or any other items where I go to do the exercise. Again, this reduces decision-making and the time it takes to get ready, and it makes the habit a lot more obvious for me. Having everything set out the night before helps me overcome the feeling of not wanting to exercise because things are just ready to go and it’s a lot simpler getting started.

We know that the best way to establish a new habit is to imagine the obstacle and then do the action to reduce the obstacle and make the habit more obvious and easy to do. In the WOOP tool that we’re using today, the idea is that we visualize the obstacle, and we anticipate it being there. And we condition ourselves to respond to that obstacle with the behavior or activity we want to do instead.

Here are a few examples:

  • “When I get up in the morning then I will immediately put on my exercise shoes and go for a run, even if I don’t feel like it.”
  • “If I get distracted from my work, then I will block all distracting websites with Focus Assist, and get back to work.”
  • “When I get home from work, then I will immediately log into my Brightspace classroom and start reading.”

Take a moment to design your “if–then” plan, or your “when–then” plan and write it down. As you create the sentence, visualizing it and imagining it happening is going to help you prepare to activate your plan.

WOOP Can Help You Overcome Obstacles, Adopt New Habits

Now using WOOP can really help; it can help you create new habits, change behaviors, and take a fresh approach to your online teaching and learning. You’ll find that you can use this tool to overcome any obstacle to creating a big project or completing a big project. It can help you master a difficult situation.

You can also use it to handle time management, set up self-care routines, and confidently adopt new priorities.

The mental contrasting strategy includes taking your current situation, visualizing what it could look like as an ideal state, and visualizing obstacles that you will encounter.

While you might have created goals and plans in the past, the key here is to identify and anticipate those obstacles. This makes the difference in pushing through them.

In implementation intentions, these are the triggers that you set up for the “if then” and the “when then” relationships to create new actions you’re going to take.

The tool is simple but powerful. It really does help you target one area of your online teaching work or your life and make a change. You can complement this strategy with additional ideas like using checklists, taking a planned breakreflecting at the end of the week to acknowledge your progress, and then adjusting your plan for the coming week.

Thank you for being with me today to explore this tool and consider trying something new. Remember that if you write things down and reflect on how they’re working for you, it makes the process clearer and helps you think about your thinking, as well.

Writing your steps to this plan and writing your reflection on how it worked for you, these are great places to start. Best wishes to you this coming week in your online teaching and in trying out the WOOP strategy.

This is Dr. Bethanie Hansen your host for the Online Teaching Lounge podcast. To share comments and requests for future episodes. Please visit BethanieHansen.com/request. Best wishes this coming week and your online teaching journey.