#4 – for teachers – ask yourself about your own role in the “Inner Game”

Latest in a series about classroom management.  please share with nursing faculty members. why not subscribe?

مرحبا بكم في بلادي القراء من الناطقين بالعربية الأراضي. الرجاء المشاركة ويرجى النظر في الاشتراك. السلام!

not too long ago I worked with a new faculty member who was – shall we say? – a diamond in the rough.  When the class was assembling, she would get their attention by saying “sit down and shut up!” or “start paying attention!”

Ooooh Nooooooooooooo

And the odd part was, she seemed to think it was normal to treat students this way. I had this idea that  she grew up in a family where people were ordered around, or maybe she had spent too much time in a work setting where the boss told everyone what to do next. There has got to be a better way to get people to be a part of the team……

The Inner Game

The idea for the day is, The Inner Game. Recognize your own role in becoming the “little voice inside the student’s head” that tells them how they are doing and what to think about themselves. What message was that faculty person delivering?

The Inner Game applies to any profession in which a person needs to learn a highly complex skill set that has to be coached in person. It is unquestionably true in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) training, but applies anywhere that a person needs to perform a skill while people are watching. Just like tennis.

Did this get your attention? keep reading…….

Let’s back up a bit. The Inner Game of Tennis was a best-selling book in 1974. The idea was simple: when you play a competitive individual sport, you have two opponents. The first is the person on the other side of the net. You need to respond to them and score more points than they do. The second opponent is not so obvious. The second opponent is the little voice in your head that tells you how you are doing. If the little voice in your head is fearful, full of doubt, and negative, you must beat that opponent first before you can beat the person on the other side of the net. The book was a pioneer in the genre of sports psychology, but also in the study of peak performance – the search for “flow” and “playing in the zone” – which has also been studied by such nursing luminaries as Patricia Benner and Marlene Kramer.  The author started a sort of franchise – the Inner Game of Skiing, the Inner Game of Investing, etc – but the original metaphor still remains strong. The book is about how to eliminate self-defeating thoughts from your quest for excellence in what you do.

I won’t recap the whole book for you here. You can get an updated copy via Amazon, inexpensively. Or go to the Inner Game website.


The bottom line is: We as faculty need to be especially careful not to supply self-defeating thoughts. Nursing students rely heavily on cues from faculty to guide them (a sort of variation on WWJD) and the voice of the faculty becomes the little voice in the student’s head. If you as the faculty use language that is negative, or if you supply negative imagery, you (the coach) will create the conditions for that person to limit their own potential.

Be a model of positive inner dialog about challenging situations.

The Inner Game is the basis for successful problemsolving. if the person says “I’m a student and I will never figure this out” they create a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the student says ” there must be a better way to address this problem, I will come up with it if I work at it” – they reframe the issue in a way to succeed.

I think i will also write a companion blog on The Inner Child as it relates to nursing……


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