You run into a student who transferred to another school, and she says, “I love it. But there’s no Mrs. Eichholz.”
A Kinder who rides the bus you monitor finally remembers your name after 9 weeks of school and says with a big smile, “I was up all night thinking about your name. I didn’t go to sleep until eleven!”
A student who isn’t even in your class runs to hug you every time she sees you – because you once told her teacher how polite she was to hold the door open.
Two 2nd grade students who think they’ve finished a project but still have time left, decide to add more details instead of just sitting there.
“Wait – we’re adding more details, that was my goal for today!” “Mine, too! We both went above and beyond!!” And they high-five each other.
You fall out of your chair and say, “That darn long skirt keeps getting caught in the wheels, ” and one of your students quietly observes, “It’s not a very good growth mindset to blame something else for your mistakes, Mrs. Eichholz.”
You go to bed at eleven thinking about all of the students who will eventually find a way to use your own teaching against you.
While I was searching for a short video to show my 2nd graders to motivate them to go above and beyond what is expected, I came across this little gem by Colin Hesterly. It’s 2 minutes long (the perfect length for my 7 & 8 year old audience) and the lovely animation and creativity deliver the message without being heavy-handed.
In the article, Dweck points out that some who claim to practice and teach the Growth Mindset often don’t truly understand it. This misinterpretation can lead to actions and assumptions that might actually be more harmful than helpful. Others have caught on to the trendy acceptance of the term, but don’t actually practice what they preach.
I recommend you read Carol Dweck’s article, as I think it has some extremely valid points. Those of us who want to effect a positive change in the attitudes of our children and students should make sure we have a deeper understanding of what it means to have a “Growth Mindset” so that we don’t give unintended mixed messages.
For more resources on Growth Mindset, you can click here.
The last couple of weeks have provided a few great opportunities for me to learn, and I would like to reflect on them in this week’s blog posts.
One of my grand ideas last year was to try a Parent/Teacher book study. Having read Mindset, by Carol Dweck, I felt that it was the perfect book since it has advice for parents, teachers, and coaches. I applied for a grant from our PTA to purchase the books before the end of last school year with the plan to distribute them before the summer for everyone to read. We would then meet together in person in September.
The first thing that didn’t go as I predicted was that far more teachers signed up than parents. The teacher interest was probably due in no small part to the chance of earning professional development credit. However, I gave the parents little incentive, and that was completely my fault.
During the summer, I sent out e-mails in an attempt to keep interest going. These e-mails included links to SMORE flyers with book, music, and video suggestions. There was also a link to a Padlet for feedback on the book. Again, there was very little response.
As the meeting date closed in last week, I began to panic. Few people had RSVP’ed and only 1/3 of them were parents. I mentioned door prizes and childcare, which drew a couple more responses. (However, it turned out that no one brought their child, after all.)
The meeting was from 6-7 PM. When the participants RSVP’ed, they signed up for 1 of 4 breakout sessions, and to bring snacks, napkins, or plates. Out of the 40+ books I gave out, about 21 people came. We met in the library first, where I showed a couple of videos. Then we pooled all of the snacks and supplies before going to breakout sessions. Each session was in a different classroom with an iPad, and the participants shared out responses and suggestions to a Padlet for their session. Here are some of their answers:
One of my favorite quotes, from teacher Amy Huebner, was, “Prioritize your child’s learning over your time.” She explained this to mean that we often do things for our children b/c it’s faster and easier when they could learn so much more by doing it themselves. Very true!
After coming back to the library to share the Padlets, the group played a Kahoot game on Mindset to compete for door prizes. It was very competitive, and seemed to be a great way to end the evening! Of course, I messed up the whole experience by putting the wrong answer down for the very last question, so we had a bit of a discussion about learning from our (my) mistakes…
The next day, I sent out a form to everyone to gather feedback in case we ever try something like this again. Only teachers responded 🙁 Kudos to them for taking the time b/c that was definitely not a required part of their professional development hours!
Here are some of the summaries:
I am very conscious of taking people’s time, so I was gratified to see the last responses. It was also interesting to see in the comments that a few people thought it would be worth it to add some time to the actual meeting so we could have more breakout sessions and follow-up time.
One suggestion that also seemed like a great idea was to ask parents for a book suggestion next time. Love that!
To sum things up:
I’m glad we did this.
I wish more people, particularly parents, would have participated. (We need to offer more incentives and ask for input before starting the next project.)
I think it would be a good idea to try this again, using the feedback from the first time to improve it.
If you would like more Mindset resources, take a look at this Pinterest Board for articles, video links, and much more!
I found this 2-minute video on the Museum of Mathematics website. Eileen Collins, who was the first female pilot of the Space Shuttle, talks about her difficulties with math and the great reasons for sticking with the subject.
I should probably say that I have mixed feelings about Thrively. I really like the concept but, for reasons I will explain later in this post, I can’t recommend it for public school classrooms. As a parent, however, I think it offers great resources.
Thrively is a website where students can take a free strengths assessment. Based on the results, you will receive suggestions for ways to maximize those strengths: inspirational videos, local clubs and events that would appeal to the student’s special interests, apps, and activities to try at home.
The service is free, but there is a more detailed Strengths Roadmap that is offered for $19.99.
My 12-year-old daughter took the assessment. It was pretty long, but not tedious. There were some multimedia questions and definitely some that required thought before responding.
The results of my daughter’s assessment were enlightening for both of us, and it was exciting to see all of the suggested resources that we could use to help her to pursue her passions, several of which were new to me.
There is an EDU version of Thrively, and a teacher can get details on an entire class of students. However, some districts and parents might not want that kind of information gathered on children. Also, some of the suggested activities include religious ones, which is one reason that I wouldn’t recommend Thrively for a public school setting.
The way I see using this is to share it with the parents of my students as a tool that they might want to use to learn more about their children and opportunities to enrich them in areas of interest.
You can view a brief informational video about Thrively below (or at this link)