Hope Can Be Taught: 7 Steps To Nurturing Hope
The science behind hope is based on more than 10 years of research and 150 published works by Dr. Chan Hellman, Ph.D., Founder and Director of the OU Hope Research Center. According to his research, the strategies developed to nurture hope can show a statistically significant improvement in a child or adult in about one hour of Hope work.
These strategies can be introduced in a short amount of time, allowing for momentum in growth and added efficiencies in the educators’ teaching schedule. The simple methodology behind the Science of Hope is based on three steps:
- Set short- or long-term goals toward purposeful behavior.
- Identify the pathway or roadmap to attain that goal.
- Find the willpower to focus your attention on the pursuit of the goal.
However, there are a few more components to fully round out the process for building and nurturing Hope. Here’s the full outline of strategies used to Nurture Hope:
When just getting started, students need to know that Hope is much more than wishful thinking. It’s a belief that the future will be better than the present. Hope is a confidence in a better tomorrow and the mindset that each individual plays an integral role in making that future possible. The first step in nurturing hope is introducing hope and discussing its core components.
Setting goals means deciding on or identifying something that is wanted and valued. This must be personally relevant! Most high trauma youth are in survival mode and are likely to initially set short term goals. When goals are clarified, it increases the agency (or willpower) to attain them.
This is the step in the process where students discover various ways to achieve their goals. This is the creation of the roadmap to get from Point A (where we are) to Point B (where we aim to go next). It’s important to list and discuss potential pathways, consider the barriers that will come up, and which alternative pathways might be an option.
Harnessing willpower is finding the inner force to make the goals a reality. This is the mental energy that is required to complete the goal. Cultivating willpower including identifying and describing the motivation behind the goal.
It’s difficult to be hopeful, especially when students have faced significant trauma. But by helping children look for obstacles while discussing ways to overcome them, we help them develop their problem solving skills as they nurture the hope. Failed attempts and not quitting are sometimes a part of the journey.
Create a Hope Visual
A gallery of Hope serves as a Visual Map for this Journey to Hope. This visual, created with the student, can serve as a reference tool throughout the duration of the process. It should highlight where the student is headed and the process or steps required to get there.
After the goal is attained, it is important to remember that we all have the ability to “re-goal.” Hope can continue to grow. We can work through the process again fully in order to reach another set goal.
When educators use a social emotional curriculum infused with Hope, it reduces the impact of toxic stress and builds resilience in students, especially those who have experienced trauma and adverse childhood experiences. My Best Me is a series of lessons designed to deliver SEL competencies and help students discover their true identity and purpose. It’s also certified to increase hope, and lessons can be taught in just one hour a week.