Hope Rising SEL has developed My Best Me, a hope-centered and trauma-informed curriculum. But what does that mean?
In this article, we’re going to share our definition of Hope, what we do to nurture Hope in students, and how it makes a difference for individuals who have experienced trauma and adversity.
Teachers are seeing more children enter their schools who have experienced adversity, trauma, and severe stress. This is proven to be directly responsible for increased dropout rates, academic struggle, and emotional outbursts. Not only does this affect individual children, but it ripples through the classroom into the school and our communities.
As a trauma-informed curriculum, and through extensive research, we understand the effect this has on children. That’s why we are here to bring Hope — through My Best Me — to more teachers and schools in order to help reduce the impact of trauma and provide tools for buffering stress.
What Hope Actually Means
Hope is more complex than just a reaction or emotion. It’s a mindset that can be nurtured. We define Hope as “the belief that tomorrow will be better than today and that you have the power to make it so.”
While the first half of this definition may seem familiar, most people aren’t aware, “that you have the power to make it so” is a vital component of Hope. The belief that tomorrow will be better than today is a great start. But if it stands alone it’s only optimism, not Hope.
Why Hope is Better than Optimism
While we don’t have any issue with optimism, it isn’t a tool to assist those who have experienced trauma and adversity. In fact, living through pervasive, negative experiences can make it difficult for a child to become be optimistic. Furthermore, being only optimistic creates a sense of helplessness, i.e. “good things will happen regardless of what I do.” This presents a second, less positive option of, “all things will happen no matter what I do. I cannot change and affect anything, even myself.”
For a sustainable, helpful, positive outlook, we need something more than mere optimism can provide: the power to create change.
Our definition of Hope allows and encourages the individual to have agency (or willpower) in their situation. Not only can tomorrow be better than today, but they are the key to making it better. This agency provides Hope and shows them, “my behavior, thoughts, and actions matter.”
Giving children this power in their lives and increasing their Hope changes their behavior, helps buffer against adversity, and is a protective factor in times of great stress.
See how Hope is already so much more powerful than optimism?
Not only is it applicable to more of the population, but it directly correlates the importance of positive personal growth to improving one’s circumstances.
How We Nurture Hope
We use Hope Work strategies in My Best Me to help children learn Hope as a mindset and empower them to make their tomorrow better.
Here are ways that we accomplish that:
- Introduce Hope: We show that Hope isn’t an emotion or reaction, but it’s a mindset they can learn.
- Goal Setting: We help them develop personally relevant goals.
- Pathways: We establish ways for them to reach their goals, showing that it’s possible.
- Willpower: We find the child’s source of motivation, help them identify it, and help them utilize it to navigate their pathway to achievement.
- Problem Solving: We identify obstacles that might occur and prepare strategies to help the child overcome them.
- Create Hope Visual: We create a visual map to refer to everything they learned and planned during Hope Work to help them succeed.
- Re-Goal Setting: As children grow, their goals grow with them. We help them learn to re-goal set with consistently helpful strategies and success.
What Happens When Hope is Increased
Hope Work in My Best Me establishes agency for the child with positive impacts, creating better behaviors and outcomes. In schools using our curriculum, we’ve seen this growth for individual children ripple out to the rest of the classroom, the school, and beyond to their communities. Hope is infectious, having a positive impact on everyone. Children with increased Hope are getting better grades, higher attendance, and seeing more success interacting with others inside and outside the classroom. In addition, schools using My Best Me have decreased dropout rates, increased overall exam scores, and see more of their students graduate.
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.