Using the chart provided, ask students to write down three to five things that they have always wanted to do but haven’t. In the corresponding boxes, students should then identify what has been getting in the way of them engaging in the activity, and what they would need from themselves or others to overcome that barrier. For example, a student may have always wanted to learn how to play the piano but hasn’t tried yet because of a fear of failure. To overcome the fear of failure, they might need to be okay with making mistakes, develop a sense of self-love and self-worth that is independent of achievement, and/or feel unconditionally supported by family and friends.
If possible, complete your own chart in advance of the lesson, to model this activity for the class. In sharing your own chart, you also continue to strengthen your connection with students and model vulnerability.
The Breaking Barriers Worksheet is available in the download section of this page.
For this activity, you should be aware of a couple of key points:
- Students need to identify activities that have internal rather than external barriers.
Ex. If the student hasn’t learned to play the piano because they do not have the money for music lessons and they have no way of accessing a piano to teach themselves then (at least in the current situation), they are unable to take an immediate step in the direction of their goal by setting intentions or shifting their mindset.
- Sometimes it’s necessary to dig a little deeper.
Ex. If a student says that they don’t stand up for themselves because other people’s words don’t hurt their feelings, then it might be helpful to encourage deeper introspection. It’s very unlikely that a student is not hurt by teasing or mean words.
The failure to stand up for yourself is more closely tied to a lack of self-worth or a fear of isolation. However, students might have a hard time recognizing these deeper concepts or subconsciously suppress these feelings because identifying the problem makes it more real. If you think that a student might need to dig a little deeper, gently encourage them to consider whether there are any other factors at play.
They might also find it helpful to take an outside perspective. For example, ask the student what they think their mother might identify as the barrier to taking action. Regardless of the prompt you use, do not push students too far out of their comfort zone. It’s okay if this activity simply plants a seed that can be watered in the future.
To conclude, allow students to share any aspect of their chart. As you transition into the lesson, ask students to keep their barriers and needs in the back of their minds.