Pathways to Nurturing Hope

Nurturing Hope Step 3: Establishing Pathways

Welcome back to our Nurturing Hope blog series, where we dive into each of the 7 steps of nurturing Hope, how it is important, and how it changes students’ lives. Today, we are going to dive into step 3, Establishing Pathways.

What is a Pathway?

Once we help a student set a goal, we establish ways to reach that goal and show them that success is possible and probable! This is a pathway.

“Hope is the belief that tomorrow will be better than today, and that you have the power to make it so.” With a defined goal, the student knows what ‘better’ will look like for them. Next, they need the ‘power to make it so.’ That power comes from pathways.

Importance of Multiple Pathways

You are traveling to a destination, and there is only one road available to get you there. On our journey there, you run into road construction that has completely blocked that road, and you know there are no alternative route to where you are going. That can be frustrating and immensely discouraging. For this same reason, only having one pathway toward a goal for a student can put a lot of pressure on them for that pathway to be a success. If something outside of their control suddenly blocks that pathway, the power to make tomorrow better feels robbed from them. So instead, we establish multiple pathways so the student has the best possible chance for success. If one pathway doesn’t work out, they have others to choose from to help them reach the same goal. 

Letting Students Choose Their Pathways

Multiple pathways also increase the student’s agency, re-establishing how vital they are to their own Hope and progress. We want students to feel that I am the key to making my tomorrow better than today.” Helping students establish multiple pathways gives them choices to pick which one they are most drawn to and most excited about pursuing. Not only does the student have a set goal they are eager to accomplish, but they have a pathway that is exciting for them and plays into what they want, increasing their likelihood of success.

More in the Series

You are reading Part #3 of a 7-Part Series on Nurturing Hope. To catch up, read our first blog in the series, Why Our Definition of Hope Changes Everything and also Nurturing Hope Step 2: Goal Setting. Also, stay tuned for our next blog, we will be diving into the fourth step of Nurturing Hope: Finding Willpower.


Hope Rising SEL’s definition of Hope is making a difference in many schools and communities across the country.

If your school isn’t using My Best Me yet, we would love to help you bring Hope to your school. Our sales team is ready to answer your questions and demo My Best Me for you. Contact us to start spreading Hope in your school.

Goal Setting is Key Nurturing Hope

Nurturing Hope Step 2: Goal Setting

My Best Me has 7 core steps teachers use to nurture Hope in their students. For the next several weeks, we are doing a blog series about each step in detail, why it is important, and how it changes students’ lives.

In our recent blog, Why Our Definition of Hope Changes Everything, we go over the first vital step of introducing Hope as a mindset. That is the first blog in the series, so if you haven’t read it yet, be sure to start there!

Now, we are going to focus on step two: Goal Setting.

What is Goal Setting?

After educators introduce Hope as a mindset, it is important to guide the student in identifying something they want to accomplish, establish a way to measure that goal and provide a timeframe to reach it. This is what we call Goal Setting.

Hope is the belief that tomorrow will be better than today, and that you have the power to make it so.

Dr. Chan Hellman, PhD

To know what ‘better’ looks like for the student, it is key to help them define what they want to accomplish by setting a goal. By having that specific goal, the student has a clear definition of what better looks like, which will assist them as they work to achieve it.

Power in Personally Relevant Goals

The most powerful part of our definition of Hope is that “you have the power to make tomorrow better than today.” This emphasis on being the key to making their tomorrow better provides agency for the student to improve their lives.

Because of this, teachers must guide the students in setting personally relevant goals. Our goals are not always the same as theirs. Their goals may be very different from other students. If the goals of others are pressed upon them, they will lose agency in their goal setting and have less Hope overall.

Students are empowered by pursuing what they want to accomplish. Simply focusing on what is personally relevant to them during the goal-setting phase has already shown to start increasing Hope and even more so once they reach their goal. My Best Me helps establish that what the student wants, their goals for a better tomorrow, has intrinsic value and therefore they have inherent value as a person.

Trauma-Informed Guidance

My Best Me is a trauma-informed curriculum. Trauma and high stress are prevalent in students, and My Best Me is here to help buffer that adversity. Because of Dr. Hellman’s research, we know that children who have experienced trauma struggle with long-term goal setting and tend to focus on avoidant-based goals rather than achievement-based goals.

My Best Me guides teachers in helping traumatized students succeed with short-term goal setting and provide guidance for how to understand students’ fears when they make avoidant goals.

For instance, students who use avoidant-based goals are often worried about performing poorly in front of others. Instead of achievement self-talk such as, “I want to pass this test, I want to do my best, I want to succeed,” their self-talk is far more negative. “I don’t want to fail, I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of others, I don’t want to look stupid.”

Without the proper training, this can be hard to navigate and identify in a student. My Best Me helps teachers know how to look for this and how to properly guide that student through goal setting to help them become more hopeful and think of themselves as successful.  

More in the Series…

You are reading Part #2 of a 7-Part Series on Nurturing Hope. To catch up, read our last blog, Why Our Definition of Hope Changes Everything. And when you ready for Step #3, be sure to check out Nurturing Hope Series: Establishing Pathways.


Hope Rising SEL’s definition of Hope is making a difference in many schools and communities across the country.

If your school isn’t using My Best Me yet, we would love to help you bring Hope to your school. Our sales team is ready to answer your questions and demo My Best Me for you. Contact us to start spreading Hope in your school.

Puzzles Help Keep young Brains Active During Summer

Keep Those Brains Active

Keep Those Brains Active

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin

During the pandemic, many conversations came up about gaining the “quarantine 15”.  (We might have all fell prey to some sort of weight gain!) There were months of more sedentary days. Just as our bodies get flabby and out of shape, our minds can get out of shape over the summer if we don’t engage them and keep them active.

Jigsaw Puzzles are a fun way to challenge the brain.  Young children learn the concept of fractions of the picture being a part of the whole.  They also learn shape recognition and fine motor skills.  Research suggests puzzles aid in increasing concentration and sharpening memory.  My mom typically got out a jigsaw puzzle in the cold winter months, but why not summer.  They are a fun way to give the brain exercise while also boosting our mood.

Learning a New Language is a great way to keep your brain active and challenged.  Today, there are many apps for young and old alike to learn a new language.  My 10-year-old granddaughter is doing this and has partnered with one of her friends as they challenge each other to complete 5 lessons each week.  This keeps both of them on track and in the process, they are learning French! A couple apps to consider are Duolingo and Gus on the Go.

Dance!  Dancing releases endorphins, improves coordination, strengthens muscles and is just plain fun!  Learning a new line dance or joining a dance class will keep your brain remembering the moves and sequences of the steps.  There are many tutorials on YouTube for learning a line dance.  May I suggest the Cupid Shuffle, a personal favorite.

Be the Teacher.  Teach a friend or family member how to do something, such as making a craft, playing a card game, or playing a musical instrument.  Being the teacher keeps your brain thinking of how to put yourself in the student’s shoes remembering when you learned.  You will have to recall each step in the process and think through the “how to’s” that will help them be a success.  Patience will be needed in seeing mistakes and knowing how to correct them.  Reverse the roles and have them teach you something.  Of course, learning exercises the brain every time.

Above are just a few of the many ways you can ensure that your brains don’t turn to mush over the break.  You can return to school knowing your brain is in shape and ready to learn. Follow Benjamin Franklin’s advice and make some investments in knowledge!