“Winter Blues”: Managing the Freeze of Inertia

It is natural for many of us to feel stuck in a rut in the winter months. To overcome our “frozen” state, it seems appropriate to consider Kurt Lewin’s three-step model for change. Lewin uses ice as a metaphor to present the natural human process of overcoming being “frozen” and moving toward change.

Lewin, a social and organizational psychologist whose work on change has influenced education (especially experiential education), organizational development, and business management, suggests that humans need a disrupting experience to break the ice and an opportunity to reform the ice into a different, more useful shape.

As we move through winter’s later weeks, let’s plan new, energizing experiences for ourselves and our students that will disrupt our current “freeze” and move us onward and upward in our development. Change is never easy. If you find yourself feeling particularly stuck, check out a few more tips as you mentally prepare for some intentionally disruptive action!

New Experiences to Disrupt your “Freeze”

For you

Be open to a taste of adventure in your professional and personal experiences! You could try:

With your students

Freeze-breaking strategies for teaching don’t have to be complicated! They can be simple and short-term. It’s fine to experiment! Here are some possibilities.

  • Try a new location, especially a bright and lively space (like the Fireside Lounge, MIC 201, or the Vista Room).
  • On a less-freezing day, go outside for a brief lecture, demonstration, or learning experience
  • Take a tip from one of Yale’s most popular and transformational courses and consider adding a small “happiness” component to your course.
  • Try a new teaching activity.
  • Play music during guided practice of lab time. You can even collaborate with students to make a playlist that fosters a growth mindset for their class.
  • Provide quick, outside-the-box opportunities for students to express their knowledge: mind maps, abstracts, teachbacks, reflections, etc.
  • Help students engage in metacognition by reflecting on where they are in the course, the progress they have made, what they hope to learn, and how their course work fits into their personal and professional goals.

Inertia, Intentionality, and Social Interactions

Remember that your social connections and interactions have a profound impact on your energy. Think about how you respond to different people. Recognize whose presence and words bring you energy, and whose take your energy and leave you depleted. Understanding these dynamics is not unwelcoming or unkind. Rather, it helps us monitor our energy and be intentional about how we spend this important limited resource.

  • Reach out to people who energize you and plan face-to-face or video chats.
  • Express your appreciation for those who support you.
  • Be careful and intentional about when you schedule interactions that might drain you. Build in breaks and downtime, and avoid “stacking” draining meetings or events.
  • Continue to engage with those outside your circle (a way of checking your bias), and hold in tension monitoring your energy and being welcoming and inclusive.
  • Have a rejuvenation plan to help you recover lost energy.

Join the CLT for a Faculty Self-Care Day

Please join the CLT Team for a day of self-care on March 4th from 9:30 – 1:30 PM. Come to MIC 201 for pancakes with all the fixings. Gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan options will be available. Enjoy the massage chairs and pick up a self-care give-away!

Explore Further

Mattes, Bilita S. Education Action Research in Higher Education as Faculty Professional Development, The Pennsylvania State University, Ann Arbor, 2008. ProQuest. (Cobalt link to this article for Champlain community members)

Langenegger, Joyce A. In the Midst of their Journeys: Professors’ Reports of Transitions in Teaching, Fielding Graduate University, Ann Arbor, 2010. ProQuest. (Cobalt link to this article for Champlain community members)

More Self-Care and Wellness
“Winter Blues”: Managing Energy and Concentration
“Bear-ing” the Winter Blues at Champlain