The Minimalist Educator Podcast

Episode 032: Overcoming Scarcity Mindset for Educational Abundance with Tammy & Christine

April 16, 2024 Tammy Musiowsky-Borneman
Episode 032: Overcoming Scarcity Mindset for Educational Abundance with Tammy & Christine
The Minimalist Educator Podcast
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The Minimalist Educator Podcast
Episode 032: Overcoming Scarcity Mindset for Educational Abundance with Tammy & Christine
Apr 16, 2024
Tammy Musiowsky-Borneman

Ever found yourself guarding that last pack of sticky notes like a dragon with its gold? Join us, Tammy Musiowsky-Borniman and Christine Arnold, as we tackle the all-too-common scarcity mindset in education. We're diving headfirst into the reality of teachers reaching into their own wallets for classroom supplies and the silent message it sends to both educators and students about resource limitations. It's a candid look at the consequences of a scarcity mindset, including hoarding tendencies and the strain it places on teaching practices.

But it's not all doom and gloom! We’re flipping the script and exploring the transformative power of an abundance mindset. Imagine a classroom where everyday items become versatile teaching tools and collaboration outshines competition for resources. We're sharing actionable strategies that can turn the tide, from judiciously prioritizing what's necessary to fostering a climate of positivity and support among colleagues. Tune in and be inspired to make every lesson count, no matter the budget constraints. You're not just listening to another conversation; you're stepping into a space where thriving trumps surviving in the world of education.

Today's episode was brought to you by Plan Z Professional Learning Services, Forward Thinking Educator Support. Find out more at www.PlanZPLServices.com. Follow us @PlanZPLS on Twitter and Instagram.

Send us a Text Message.

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Ever found yourself guarding that last pack of sticky notes like a dragon with its gold? Join us, Tammy Musiowsky-Borniman and Christine Arnold, as we tackle the all-too-common scarcity mindset in education. We're diving headfirst into the reality of teachers reaching into their own wallets for classroom supplies and the silent message it sends to both educators and students about resource limitations. It's a candid look at the consequences of a scarcity mindset, including hoarding tendencies and the strain it places on teaching practices.

But it's not all doom and gloom! We’re flipping the script and exploring the transformative power of an abundance mindset. Imagine a classroom where everyday items become versatile teaching tools and collaboration outshines competition for resources. We're sharing actionable strategies that can turn the tide, from judiciously prioritizing what's necessary to fostering a climate of positivity and support among colleagues. Tune in and be inspired to make every lesson count, no matter the budget constraints. You're not just listening to another conversation; you're stepping into a space where thriving trumps surviving in the world of education.

Today's episode was brought to you by Plan Z Professional Learning Services, Forward Thinking Educator Support. Find out more at www.PlanZPLServices.com. Follow us @PlanZPLS on Twitter and Instagram.

Send us a Text Message.

Sticker Mule
Sticker Mule has great options for promotional items like stickers, coasters, magnets, and more!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the Show.

Buy The Minimalist Teacher book on Amazon.
Follow on Instagram and Twitter @PlanZPLS
The Minimalist Educator Podcast is a Plan Z Professional Learning Services adventure.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Minimalist Educator Podcast, a podcast about pairing down to refocus on the purpose and priorities in our roles with co-hosts and co-authors of the Minimalist Teacher Book, Tammy Musiowsky-Borniman and Christine Arnold.

Speaker 2:

In today's episode, tammy and I discuss scarcity mindset. We define what it is and also give you some tips and ideas for how to tackle it. Hello and welcome to today's episode of the Minimalist Educator Podcast. Today, it is Tammy and I. How are you today, tammy?

Speaker 3:

I'm really good today. Thank you, Christine. How about you A?

Speaker 2:

little bit chilly, but I'm doing okay, doing okay. So today we are talking about scarcity mindset in our schools and what are some possible ways we can tackle this. So maybe, tammy, you can start us off by telling us what scarcity mindset is.

Speaker 3:

Sure.

Speaker 3:

So scarcity mindset is when we have this kind of fear that we will potentially not have enough of something.

Speaker 3:

So in general, it could be like, when we think about just societies in general, where we have people having a fear of like not having enough food or a place to live or the resources that they need to find success in their life and whatever that may look like. And when we think about that in schools we do and I say generally we, because I think we've all experienced this in some way in whatever roles we've been in in schools as that we don't have enough time, we don't have enough people, resources, we don't have enough physical resources, like the things we need to teach, and so we run into this mindset of like I don't have all the things that I need to do my job well. And that can stem from, you know, life experience, something that's happened in childhood, the experience you've had in a school, depending on types of schools that you've worked in, but I think it's a really common experience that teachers have. What have you experienced or heard about from teachers or in your schools?

Speaker 2:

I definitely have experienced the feeling like we don't have a very large budget to buy supplies. So then you start thinking about I need to save every possible item from home as well as school. Or you know you see other teachers throwing things out and you think, oh no, don't throw that out, we could use that for this, use that for that. So definitely have felt that lack of resources due to budget over the years. And, of course, the time thing there's never going to be enough time with school. There's always so much more we can be doing for sure.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's funny how I think about. If we talk first about like the physical resources, maybe the every school has rooms right where there's like teacher resources and supply closet, and usually the supply closet room is like that locked sacred place where you have to get the secretary or like office admin to like go open it up because you need staples or post-its or whatever. And I understand the need to like protect resources for sure, but it seems like such a challenge to be able to get those items that you need, especially when you have like you want to have an engaging learning environment, so there's things that you just use, often like index cards or post-its or chart papers and markers and things like that, and it can turn into a hoarding situation on the teacher end, right, because you're like, ooh, I can get these things while the closet's open and then, like you overstuff not you but we generally, you know. Then you overstuff your own supply closet and you know you start collecting all of these items, thinking that well, I've been, you know I don't have to like get down to my last post-it, but do we ever really get to that place? Like honestly, do we get down to the last stack of post-its? Like probably not. We have like a reserve stack of 10.

Speaker 3:

I don't know, it's such a funny thing where we feel so afraid that like what if I run out of post-its today? And I keep bringing up post-its because, like, I use them a lot, right, or like index cards or whatever. But like what if I run out of that? Well, there's always a backup plan. Like you don't have to use an index card or a post-it, like you can. There are notebooks and there are other papers, and so I think we get caught in like the things that we use, right, we get attached to them and feel comfortable with certain things and we collect them and we rely on them too much, sometimes without thinking about ooh, I can do this in another way. I don't need this giant stack or basket of these supplies because we could also use notebooks. That's fine too.

Speaker 2:

I do remember one situation, though, where I was at a school where we were given a certain amount of photocopying paper for the year, yes, and got to the end of that stack of photocopying paper and then I thought about whiteboards and markers, but then the whiteboard markers were running dry and it was literally like do I spend my own money or do we just go without? It really did get down to a situation like that, unfortunately, and we definitely don't want teachers to feel like the alternative is to use their own money, because that's not a sustainable practice, is it?

Speaker 3:

No, but it's pretty common right. Like how often have we stopped at Target or Walmart or the dollar store or whatever on your way home from school because you're like, I'll just pick up these bits of things? Or, unintentionally, you buy them when you're at the store to get your own things and you're like, ooh, I could just pick up these things Because, just in case you know. But I think when we use our resources in creative ways or think of alternative things that we can do in our classroom, I think it's a good way to teach kids about resource use, because we want to model the things that we're doing in positive ways. And so if we have a classroom that's stocked full of all the things that we always need, that can be great, because then the things that we often use are there. But reality is that that's not always going to be the experience or the case. And so if we're mindful about resource use, or like a lack of resource or we ran out of something, teaching our students ways to navigate that, I think is really important, because then they will have the skills also to think about oh, I ran out of this, I'll use this instead, or I'll check with someone else and see if they have this thing or whatever it makes me think of, just a couple of weeks ago, our friend Krista.

Speaker 3:

She was talking to her son on the phone and he was talking about his use of a whiteboard that he uses for his math problems. He's in college and he was talking about how he was using the whiteboard but he didn't have an eraser. So like that it was funny because we were both chuckling about it after. I know she wouldn't mind sharing this story because we were talking about it after, but she's like that didn't seem like a real problem because we're like well, you can use a paper towel or a tissue or something to wipe it off. So when we want to make sure that the think aloud process too, if something happens in the classroom, I think about how often I talk to myself through things like that outward processing, and when I do that in the classroom with my students hear my thinking process through something, I think that's really helpful to be able to say, oh, we're out of this, so let's do this instead.

Speaker 3:

We're just going to shift gears a little bit, and it's not a big deal. It's fine, we'll just. It's a simple change that we're going to make and it's not a big deal.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, definitely modeling both how to solve that problem but then also how to handle it Absolutely. I think that's helpful for sure. So I was thinking about some of the resulting feelings that can come up when we're dealing with this scarcity mindset, because I think you can really get overly focused on how bad things are or the obstacles that you have in front of you and end up just really focused on that rather than focusing on other things that we've got going on, or what is good or what the goal is for the day, and things like that. Do you think that's a lived experience for people getting stuck in that negative thinking?

Speaker 3:

I think so Experienced that kind of negative spiral maybe of or that not negative spiral, a spiral of like negative mindset, negative not really action or behavior, but where you feel like you're just always complaining about something. Maybe it's like, oh, we just like, oh, we have to do this now. We don't have enough time to do it, or like how are we supposed to do that if we don't have this? And that ends up being like you get very emotionally charged right, like you get feelings of resentment and anger and frustration, and then you just like it steals your passion for what you're doing because all you feel is the negative emotion and see the negative things, and it can be easy to just get stuck in that. It's hard to get out of it. But I think what we have to do is like we do have to think about the positive things that are going on, because there are so many positive things that happen in school, but it our brain goes to the negative, like it just goes to that place, and so that's what we can get focused on.

Speaker 3:

But, we have to train ourselves to get out of that, because lately who, who wants to be in that negative place all the time, like it's really not healthy.

Speaker 2:

No, and it's definitely true that what you put your time and attention towards is going to loom larger for you. So if you are constantly thinking about why don't I have this, I don't have enough of that, I don't have enough time, I don't have enough budget, I don't have enough resources, it's going to feel like this huge challenge in your environment and maybe you become slightly out of proportion to what the actual reality is. I'm not saying it's not difficult to be in these situations. It absolutely. It really is challenging. But I think there's enough information out there that reminds us that putting time into being grateful for what you do have and, like Sheila was telling us, joy spotting, find those joyful moments, you know you really, you really can change your mindset and your attitude about things. For sure.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So besides like the joy spotting, which is such a fun thing to do, and when you make it a practice like just just like small things, like look around where you are and just find something that makes you smile, that's such a great practice to like help you get out of that, that kind of mindset. What is something else or what are something, some other things that people you think people could do to to kind of shift the mindset around that negative or lack, that lack of mindset, the lacking mindset.

Speaker 2:

Well, I mean definitely what we were talking about before, about reframing what we think we need. Yeah, I mean, in an ideal we would have all of these different resources for our teaching and learning, but really thinking about what it is we absolutely need to have. I think I've shared the story before about going into a school and realizing I didn't have any counters, any math manipulatives to do counting and things like that, and kind of being quite shocked how am I going to move forward? And then I found in a crafting area a whole bag of buttons, and that bag of buttons was was everything? It was counters.

Speaker 2:

It was, you know, for math, it was for bingo games, it was for every board game we had in the room. Like it became an integral part of what we used in our classroom day to day. And so, yeah, we obviously it would be lovely to have lots of beautiful counters for different purposes, but in the end, if you've got a bag of buttons, you can do pretty much the same things. Yeah, I think that reframing what it is that we need is a big one. But then, of course, I think it always comes back as you and I know is to thinking about your priorities. I think that's a really big one too.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, I agree.

Speaker 3:

I think when we sit down and whatever kind of like prioritization tool or process works for you, you really have to sit down and say is my priority to be a negative, yes, lacking, like stay in this lack mindset? I don't think anybody wants to be there, but it's just easy to get stuck in it Because we do feel defeated a lot of the times when we're trying to do things, and so, even like we have the Eisenhower matrix in our book and there's lots of different models, even those digital ones that we've seen now, it's cool to just be able to like, okay, what are my priorities? And like that negative mindset isn't even going to be on there. So let's just sort out, like, what do I really need to focus on? They will be the things that you know are most important and the things that are going to hopefully create success for you as a teacher, for our students in the classroom or whatever your role is. So, yeah, it's just like sometimes, like, just like totally putting that to the side, because we know that negativity isn't a top of anyone's life.

Speaker 3:

No, I don't. I mean, I imagine it's. No, it's not.

Speaker 2:

I would hope not, but I think as well. You know, if you do have like a little bit of a budget and you're feeling like it's not going to stretch very far, again, thinking about priorities when you are ordering things like what is going to give you the most bang for your buck, what are you going to be able to use repeatedly, over and over again? Yeah, and use your limited budget for that, rather than you know something that might have the bells and whistles but have less utility to them.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and like even things that we can share and rotate right so if you have, you know, common things, especially in a primary or elementary classrooms. You know there's like certain sets of things that every classroom has, but you don't all use them at the same time. So like, look at your schedule and if you need to rotate things, that also just eliminates, like how much stuff you have in your space, right, and so you don't have to house all of the things all the time. Because, again, like it does bring this strange sense of comfort to us to know that, like all of the math manipulatives are right there on that shelf. That's great. Like you don't use them all the time. So, like, share them, you know, like rotate them, and but again it's like, but what if I need it? You know, at this moment and sometimes we do, but really when we think realistically, like we'd be fine without it for a day or a week even, so sure.

Speaker 1:

Yeah absolutely.

Speaker 2:

I think another one that I've read about the place is trying to switch the scarcity mindset to an abundant abundance mindset. So really thinking about these opportunities where we feel like we don't have enough time, resources, budget as really opportunities to be innovative and to try new things and learn new things, and look at it as, look, I have all these opportunities here to try something new, rather than you know again that negative, I can't do it, I'm stuck, I can't overcome this Because I don't have the things that I need. So can you think of an example maybe, where we could try that abundance mindset instead of the scarcity mindset?

Speaker 3:

Probably something that would be helpful would be to build that kind of thinking into a schedule, right? So maybe it's like people have, you know, self care time in their calendars or like whatever you call it meditation or your nature walk or whatever. But even like using your own time to like when you're sitting and reading your book, like wow, I really am enjoying just being in this moment, like starting with something like that. But then when at school, it can be harder, right, because you've got people around you and discussions and conversations about things. And so I think, if you build in a similar practice at school whether it's like the beginning of your faculty meeting or your PLC time or your planning meeting, where you just talk about something that, something that was positive or filled you up or something great that happened, like just starting with something positive and really focusing on like wow, we were able to do this, even though this other thing happened like it really does have to be something that you intentionally plan to do and talk about by yourself or with a group. But if you want to get out of like, if you're in a culture at school where it's feeling negative or morale is low, you want to bring other people with you right into this kind of shifting of mindsets, because you can't you can't really do it yourself, especially in a school community, because you're not the only one there. So I think it's helpful, like I think sometimes you know, I've worked with teachers where everything kind of just feels negative and I'm the person who's I'm the abundance thinker or like. But let's think of it this way, like and I don't think about it as in terms of like it's not toxic positivity where I'm like everything is fine, like we're fine, we're totally fine, like I definitely acknowledge that, oh, this is really hard or that's really challenging, but or and right, however you frame, we can think about it in this way, or let's try it this way instead, so that it's not.

Speaker 3:

I do try to flip it, so that we're not always in that like scarcity, like we're not thinking, oh, I can't do it because I don't have this, or we don't have time for this, or we don't, we don't, we don't, but we could if we did this or if we shifted our thoughts and or like the space that we need or the time usage or whatever it is. So we do have to think innovatively and like out of the box kind of like. You know, we get used to thinking, doing the same, similar things, often because we just get in routines and we have our habits. But we do have to spend time like breaking that down sometimes so that we can see, ooh, actually, if I think about it this way, this is possible, we can do this, but you just you need to train yourself to think that way. Yeah for sure.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I wish I was the abundance mindset person all the time to me, but I think sometimes I can get a little stuck in it. Sometimes need you around me, need you more.

Speaker 3:

Well and I'm not saying that I don't my mind, you know, automatic when I am confronted with something challenging, I definitely go to the negative first, like, oh, I can't do this, I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I do like pause and just like let myself process a little bit, and it's easier with other people. I find to like we're very hard on ourselves, right.

Speaker 3:

And we want like you know, so we. It's a hard process to like because you just want things to go right, because your expectations are high and you know all of these things.

Speaker 3:

But, yeah, I definitely do go to a negative place sometimes, like this is not doable, I can't do it and this is not possible, just wallowing that for a little while before you move on, right, yes, but then it's like oh, actually, I okay. Yeah, I can see all the pieces now because, like you know, you can get hyper focused on one thing. That's the obstacle. But, like you said, if we think about like opportunities mindset rather than obstacle mindset, we can work through a lot of things in creative ways and it can be surprising and like, really like it's an opportunity to like feel proud of yourself for thinking in a different way and doing something differently than reverting back to oh, I can't, because, whatever, and just choosing to go like this is too hard or I don't have enough of this, or whatever. The case is For sure, for sure.

Speaker 2:

I think it's also been a nice offshoot of moving around different countries and different schools, because I do have a point of reference for things. You know, I've had that experience of the school where I had no more photocopying paper, but then I've also been in schools where I have an unlimited photocopying budget. So even though you might, even though you might like, feel stuck with something else, something else feels like an obstacle, you still have that opportunity to look back and go. Well, I might not have that, but I do have this. So I think, in a way, being able to see lots of different school contexts has been helpful in that way to to realise there's always ups and downs, there's always problems and opportunities as well and there's other ways to do things.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely Right. Yeah, so that's. It is helpful to to be able to see that and even just talk to each other. You know, if you have colleagues and friends in different schools, like talk about those things, even though you don't always want to talk about school out of school, but sometimes you need to because you need some other frames of references. Yeah, for sure.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, Do we have any pay down pointers today?

Speaker 3:

do you think yes and no, Like it's hard to pinpoint one, I think, but I think that and something that I mentioned a little bit before I think my paradigm pointer might be to find the people that are going to help you shift your mindset, Because it's easy to stay in a negative complaining mode, like you know, and complain that we don't have, we don't have, and that can be your reality, but also you have a lot, and so shifting the mindset to like more of thinking about the abundance will be really helpful and it'll it will make you feel better, Like it will reduce some stress.

Speaker 3:

It will make you enjoy or help you enjoy your role again and you can make that shift. So I think that's my pointer. How about you?

Speaker 2:

Can I go back to gratitude again. Is that or is that repeating something? I think, yeah, you know, whatever gratitude practice works for you, whether it's writing it down or taking a photo like Sheila, or or just having a think about it in your head, I think it can be really helpful because if we stop and think about, well, I don't have X, y and Z, but I do have beautiful kiddos in my class, or I do have a wonderful supportive community or great colleagues, or you know, there's always going to be something that you can, that you can find that is a really uplifting experience of your workplace, and maybe it's nice to think about it beyond just the materials as well, if we can.

Speaker 3:

So yeah, yeah, for sure, awesome, I like that. Thank you, christine.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, Tammy.

Speaker 3:

Yes till next time.

Speaker 2:

Today's episode was brought to you by Plan Z Professional Learning Services Forward Thinking Educator Support. Find out more at PlanZPLServicescom.

Speaker 1:

Be sure to join Tammy and Christine and guests for more episodes of the Minimalist Educator Podcast. I would love to hear about your journey with minimalism. Connect with them at PlanZPLS on Twitter or Instagram. The music for the podcast has been written and performed by Gaia Moretti.

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