Saint Mark’s 4th-grade teacher, Mr. Bowlin, continues to take on NEGATIVITY. Please take a minute to read this newsletter for insights and ways to discuss Thought Circles. Don’t know what a Thought Circle is? Stay Curious, read on, and enjoy!

Top 20 Training: Thought Circles

As we continue to look at the Top 20 concept of Eliminating Negativity, our focus for the week was on the idea of Thought Circles. We defined Thought Circles as ideas that form in our mind about potential outcomes that are based on illogical thoughts, missing information, overthinking, fear of failure, and worry. We’ve all been in an ordinary situation where we’ve spent too much time formulating thoughts about outcomes we have no control over. In that moment we need to first recognize that Thought Circles are forming, allow the problem to be the problem by putting it in the “Parking Lot” or saying “Not Now,” and finally reframing the problem to find a positive we can take away from a potentially negative situation. We added a new classroom slogan, Put that thought… in the Parking Lot, to remind us of the importance of not letting a Thought Circle take our day away or distract us from the task at hand.

Our ability to ignore the desire to jump to conclusions and choose to live in the moment when uncertainty and problems arise is an essential skill to develop. It takes a great deal of self-discipline to have the ability to set something aside, give our energy to the task in front of us, and then return to the issue later or at a more appropriate time. A great quality of a Top 20 is the ability to stay present and not be overwhelmed with Thought Circles, especially ones that focus on negativity and worst possible outcomes.

We discussed various Thought Circles that could form in 4th grade relatable scenarios: being asked to stay after school by the teacher, a friend telling you he/she can’t hang out after school, and going to a summer camp and not knowing anyone. Our class was able to come up with some great ideas for Thought Circles that might start forming, and we noticed a trend of negative thoughts that were related to worry. In those moments, it is important to put the three-step process into play to put a stop to the Thought Circles.

Sometimes our Thought Circles develop from statements made by others. We briefly reviewed the concept of OPOs and then watched two clips from the Minnesota based movie, The Mighty Ducks. We compared two different interactions between a young hockey player and his coach; one that exemplifies someone putting negative thoughts in someone’s mind, while the other displays someone providing positivity and encouragement. Similar to letting go of OPOs, we need to discern between accepting positivity and rejecting negativity from those around us. Although we can’t control what someone else says to us, we can choose how we allow it to influence us. Even more importantly, we can commit to being a source of positivity to those around us.

-Mr. Bowlin

Saint Mark’s School