This week was full of information, learning, collaborating, rethinking, and most importantly REFLECTING! So in the attempt of reflecting and deepening my learning through writing, here is how I got to the mindset thought, again!
I am sure many of you have seen the Backwards Brain Bike video and listened to the story. If not, visit The Backwards Brain Bicycle- Smarter Every Day 133 to hear this story.
What really intrigued me about this whole story was when we were asked how this relates to us? Out of the 20 or so teachers in that room, each one of us had a different connection to this story and different ways to apply it to our teaching. What we all knew was that the mindset of most adults is just different than that of most children. It blew my mind how it took this guy months and months of practice to get this down. It took the child no time at all to learn to ride this bike.
What it left with me was more questions about this “mindset” that is the big discussion these days.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Carol Dweck’s book (both times I read it) and completely support this. I just can’t help but wonder…..
- Why is it that adults seem to have a fixed mindset in so much of their thinking, whether they want to admit it or not?
- Why is it that for the most part, children are so open to taking risks and attempting new things?
- If that growth mindset shifts for children, when does this happen? What are the pivotal things that happen to cause this shift in children?
I first read Mindset and began thinking about this around 3 years ago. I was teaching 2nd grade, but I mostly connected with this as a parent.
My initial thoughts were:
- I have a fixed mindset about my personal abilities such as math, writing, and such, but a growth mindset about my teaching and my classroom. Hmmm…
- I have been praising my daughter and not really encouraging her to fail and learn. But wait, why would I want her to fail? What does that really mean, anyway?
So began my quest to create this mindset in my 5 year old!! She, like many of the children in my classroom, is a gifted child who rarely struggled. I always knew she had determination, a strong-will and perseverance like no other. 🙂 When she was 3 years old, she decided before leaving to go shopping that she was going to teach herself how to tie her own shoes. She didn’t stop until SHE mastered it. As much as it wears me out, I know this is a great characteristic to have in life. But, as she did this I noticed her frustration with not being able to get something the first time she tried. It made me think about other things she would do that if not perfect the first time, caused a big issue.
Then and there my goal, as a parent and teacher, was to push and challenge my kids to hit that wall and not master something. This, of course, happening through differentiating all teaching and learning in my classroom for all kids!! (If you don’t know by now, I am a HUGE advocate for differentiation in ALL areas!!) These kids had spent their early school years always making As, always giving the right answers, always knowing exactly how to be a perfect student. Isn’t that what has always been expected of our children? Until now.
What I wanted was for them to not be able to do something so that I could show them how to get through it. I know, you are thinking…what, you wanted them to fail at something intentionally? For this reason, yes! I wanted to be the guide alongside them when they hit that wall to see what they would do. Boy, was that eye opening! The lesson comes in being right there so that you can guide them along with many of the key phrases and inspirations from Carol Dweck that teaches them how to think and use positive self-talk. To really think and work through something. We are there to teach them how to retrain their brain, much like the backwards bike rider, to thinking they can do this. We all know the brain research on how you can talk yourself into believing it! That is what is missing so much in today’s children and what we have to teach these children as they become our future leaders.
Isn’t that what is most important? Not the failing, but what you do when you hit that spot that is a huge turning point for a child’s self esteem and future successes. If a child is never given the chance to see the power that comes in being able to push through a challenge, they’ll never know what they are truly capable of achieving!
As I see all of the growth mindset boards and phrases up around me in classrooms and schools, it reminds me to think about this philosophy and encourage it to be applied to ALL children, not just your gifted children.
ALL children deserve to be challenged.
ALL children deserve to learn in an environment where they can take a risk and fail.
ALL children deserve to be taught how to get up from that failure and keep going to make something of it! Here is usually where the biggest life lessons occur.
If we are not there to teach them this when they are young, maybe this is the point where their growth mindsets turn into a fixed mindset.
I am super excited about the new books out there that foster this positive self-talk and other ways to build this thinking in all children at a young age. I plan to remember this as my daughter starts 3rd grade and academics become harder. I plan to remember this as I start a new position and a huge learning curve will be happening. I will be saying, “This is going to take me some time and effort.” instead of “This is too hard.” With the positive thinking, we CAN make some incredible things happen! Intelligence and AWESOME things can be developed, you are not always just born with it!
|Tons of awesome literature to read to your classroom that provides great classroom discussions.