A school delivering a language-based program for students grades 5-12 with complex profiles.

Flexible Thinking; Amy Davis, Elementary/Middle School Principal

04 Mar 2020 1:46 PM | Anonymous

“Flexible thinking is when one is able to think about something in a new way.”

We talk about flexible thinking a lot at LPS, and not just for the students. We all have our moments when it is hard to get our brain around something not being how we thought it would be. A few personal examples:

New England weather plays tricks on us! Last week when we had those lovely few days of spring-like weather it was very easy for me to change my mindset and I was ALL IN; running outside, wearing fun spring outfits, grilling on the deck, you name it! The shift back to our (what should be expected) normal winter weather has been way more challenging and I’m not totally on board.

Sometimes flexible thinking is made more challenging when faced with alternatives that you don’t really like. About a month ago, I was thinking about and planning my long marathon training run. Looking ahead to Saturday, it was slotted to be bitter cold and windy with mixed precipitation. Not ideal conditions. Kick in flexible brain: an alternative would be to do the long run inside on a treadmill or change the day. All options had their pluses and minuses. My inflexible brain said “if only the weather would just cooperate, this would be easier.” Sadly, wishing that didn’t help and my inflexible brain had to pick the best choice out of the three choices I did not really love.

Flexible thinking is an important social skill that helps us navigate life. Nothing is ever exactly the way we want and life is full of change. The ability to think flexibly helps people get along with others, helps people work in a group and be successful, helps people navigate change and problem solve, helps people think about something in a different way, and helps people to try a new way of doing things. Students (and staff) who like structure and are most successful with routines have to work very hard to have a flexible brain. LPS works very hard every day to help students develop these skills. We have many systems in place, such as previewing changes, providing the ability to make choices, taking a break to process, talking with their counselor, that help to support students when it is difficult for them to have a flexible brain.

Students have to utilize flexible thinking on a daily and, often times, moment to moment basis. For example; when a student has a schedule change or when a teacher is out and there is a substitute or coverage for a class. This year for our intramural sports team there were a few games where there were not enough players for the other team and LPS students had to play for the opposing team. I’ve staff and students have slightly inflexible thinking when once on a Friday, normally our pizza for lunch day, we had a change and served hot dogs. Another example is when a student who has been sitting in the same seat all year (not assigned, just the one they picked) is asked to change seats so a teacher can support them in a different way. There are countless more examples that happen all day long and this is a lifelong learning process, as you can see…I’m still working on it.

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