June 1

June and July- the last two months

June: I Can’t Take Care of Others if I Don’t Take Care of Myself

June’s message is all about taking care of yourself. As I read more and more about Growth Mindset and working with Trauma-impacted students, I have come to realize how important it is to take care of me. This is something that I am not very good at and something I am working very hard to achieve. I need to learn to say no, to sit back and relax and enjoy the little things in life.

I can tell you that I am getting better at this-I have been exercising regularly (at least I can say that about last week!), and my house is not as clean as I would like it to be as I was too busy playing with my kids and fishing with my family. I have also been engaging in more “girls nights”- which I love! Going out for dinner with my close friends and taking up some art classes at the local makerspace have been wonderful! I have also been learning a new craft- I am teaching myself to crochet! This was my goal in May-to learn to crochet or knit- and I have started on my journey. I bought a beginner crochet kit and have been using the book to learn the different stitches. At this time, I have crocheted two hot plates in order to practice the different stitches. I hope to meet up with some “experts” at the makerspace to learn some more-I am definitely having some troubles reading the patterns!

In this chapter, you will also find a guided reflection journal. I can honestly say that I have not yet done this, but it is definitely something I plan to do once work settles down a little bit more.

What are some things you would like to do in order to take care of yourself?

 

July: A New Day is a New Opportunity to Grow

This final chapter helps us to try to drive out that fixed mindset by changing how you look at the different situations in which you may find yourself. Using self-talk to help you through these situations will keep you on a growth mindset path.

This chapter also includes some ideas for personal professional development in the growth mindset. The authors encourage us to seek out professional learning communities online (Twitter and Facebook are great places to start) and to check out some of the great mindset resources available.

It is never too late to change your mindset! It takes practice and determination to make this switch and we are never perfect in every situation but learning from our mistakes is the key!

 

I wish you all a wonderful summer, full of self-care and continued growth! I hope you have enjoyed this book as much as I did! Just a quick note to let you all  know that Annie Brock and Heather Hundley have written another book called the Growth Mindset Playbook, which is another great professional book geared toward further development of a growth mindset. I am thoroughly enjoying it as well! I look forward to the next book study and once again learning alongside you all!

May 1

May-I Got This!

Wow! I can’t believe that a year is almost over! The first piece of this chapter on page 175, Carol Dweck’s quote “The path to a growth mindset is a journey, not a proclamation.” really rings true for me! I am really finding that maintaining a growth mindset includes a lot of self-talk and listening to  my growth mindset conscience as opposed to the fixed mindset “devil” that keeps popping up when things get tough.

 

Image result for conscience images pictures

Although I have not yet thought up a name for my fixed mindset monster, I can really see how that might be beneficial-it is so much easier to visualize something with a name. You would also have “someone” to tell to go away! “Buzz off Bossy Bessy! I am going to try this hard task anyways!” is a lot better than sitting there and listening to your fixed and growth mindsets battling for the win.

 

The Growth Mindset Plan found on pages 180-181 is a great way to help get oneself organized and started on the move to growth. Something I would like to learn to do this summer is to crochet or knit, I am not too picky! I would like to be able to create a hat to donate to premie babies or to cancer patients-or both! My goal is to have at least one of these done by the end of the summer holidays. The resources I will need to accomplish this goal include yarn, either knitting needles or a crochet hook and definitely lessons of one kind or another-online or in person at the makerspace in town. Some barriers to my learning might include not having enough time to sit down and have a lesson, getting the supplies (knitting needles or crochet hook), not having a pattern for the hat, and even choosing which one I actually what to learn! I will overcome these barriers by purchasing either a crochet hook or knitting needles the next time I am down island, or maybe they have them in Port Hardy, I already have some yarn. I can also search for tutorials on YouTube while I wait for a class to become available at the Makerspace. If I make a mistake I am sure they will show me how to fix it within the tutorial or the lesson. It’s not a big deal, because I know that mistakes in crocheting and knitting are common and it is easy to go back to repair.

Figuring out my triggers for a fixed mindset is a little more challenging. I can definitely tell you my triggers for frustration-maybe frustration is one of my biggest triggers.

 

What are your triggers for a fixed mindset?

Do you have a plan to learn something new? Please share!

February 1

February- A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish

First off, I would like to begin by saying that I love the quote at the beginning of this chapter:

“Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph; a beginning, a struggle, and a victory.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

How true is this! I would like to hang this saying in my house, read it daily and allow it to remind me that nothing worthwhile comes easy. This is true for parenting, teaching, learning-everything that I do and work towards. I also need my children to know this as well-especially my oldest- who is struggling with low self-confidence in many areas of his life right now-especially reading- because they are difficult.

 

I would love to meet Aubrey Steinbrink-her story is absolutely amazing! I want to read all of the books and poems on her lists, listen to the songs and watch the videos. I would like to add songs and books and video clips that she might want to try out-although maybe she already has! Aubrey’s story has inspired me to work on teaching my sons about the growth mindset in a more formal, yet fun way-through the stories and videos and songs. I am looking forward to reading, then watching Matilda once again!

Grit- “perseverance and passion for long-term goals”; deliberate practice that leads to success. I feel that many of our students seem to be lacking in the area of grit. They seem to struggle with the deliberate practice, the perseverance to make it through a challenging task. How do we help students develop grit? This book suggests introducing them to famous people through research will help them to see grit and how it leads to success. Another way is to teach them how to make learning goals-goals that focus on the overall learning of a skill leading to mastery and generalization to all learning and challenges.

 

In what ways will you teach your students about Grit?

What are some examples of learning goals you or your students have created/worked toward?

Do you have any stories, songs, poems or videos that you could add to Aubrey Steinbrink’s list?

Which famous person would you research to show your students about grit?

 

January 1

January- Feedback is a Gift

Praise and feedback are areas in which I struggle- man I seem to have a lot of struggles! Good thing I am reading this book-turn my struggles into areas of growth! Anyways, back to it. I am usually one who gives a lot of person praise or vague praise. Since beginning my journey with the Growth Mindset, I have been really working on this. I find it a lot easier to give process praise and specific praise when dealing with my students, but I am conscious of it as well when I am with my boys. I have noticed a big difference in my older son’s willingness to read with me at night. When I am calm and give him process praise like “I really like hearing you use your strategies while you are reading! Which strategy are you going to try for this tricky word?” I can see him relax and enjoy trying to figure out the tricky word. When I have even a hint of frustration in my voice, I notice him tense up and give up a lot faster on those tricky words. It is insane how much he feeds off of my own emotions.

Feedback given to students is huge as intermediate teachers, primary teachers as well, but I do not have any experience with this as a classroom teacher. I have only taught Grade 5 🙂 When I was in the classroom, I worked very hard to give students appropriate, helpful feedback. The bigger struggle came when the students had to use that feedback for improvement, or when they were giving each other feedback. Looking back, I can see that I really needed to work on them giving each other feedback. It was also very plain to see, based on the responses to the feedback, which of my students had a growth mindset and which had a fixed mindset. One student in particular has such a fixed mindset that when he got any constructive feedback, he took it as a personal attack on him and he would shut down to the point of not attending school and not handing in his homework. It is a very delicate process and we as teachers have to be very careful of our students’ self-esteem-especially those with a fixed mindset.

Here are some examples of praise and feedback better suited to a growth mindset:

(from: http://discoveryschoolelementary.blogspot.ca/2014_03_01_archive.html)

(from: http://exclusive.multibriefs.com/content/inclusion-corner-encouraging-our-students-to-have-a-growth-mindset/education)

What are some of your experiences with praise or feedback?

Do you have any hints that might make giving process praise or effective feedback easier for someone just beginning with these concepts?

 

December 1

December: We Love a Challenge!

This month we read about equity vs. equality, challenging students and setting high expectations for students. I found it to be a very jam-packed chapter with so many ideas to consider!

Equity vs. equality is something many of us deal with on a daily basis. How do you teach the young students in early primary the difference? I loved the visual they included in this chapter- the boxes for looking over the fence. I think that this would be a great visual for kids to really understand the difference.

 

The next section of the chapter discusses ways in which you can challenge students appropriately through differentiation. There is a quote on page 104 that really stood out for me- “When students aren’t sufficiently challenged, they become frustrated.” I would like to further that thought in that they also often become behaviour concerns due to boredom. The students who are struggling also benefit from differentiation in that they are receiving materials at their level and learning that suits their needs. They also need to be sufficiently challenged, but it would look different from their peers. A great way to differentiate, motivate and challenge students is through personalizing their learning. There are some ideas on pages 107 and 108 that lend themselves nicely to personalized learning. One thing I have learned, however, is that you cannot forgo the basics and the building blocks of learning for a fully personalized program.

 

Ensuring that you are setting high expectations for your students is very important as well. Children, and adults, strive to show you their best, but if your expectations are low, then their effort and work will reflect that. At the beginning of last school year, our staff was introduced to Rita Pierson through a TEDTalk- https://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion#t-439357 and I really took what she said to heart. As I was teaching in a Grade 5 class, I decided to try out her idea of building up the students.Throughtout the year, I would tell my class that they were the best class in the school and that they needed to prove that every time we were in the hallways or at an assembly. My students lived up to that challenge in every way and soon other teachers were also commenting on how well behaved and what amazing learners the Grade 5s were. My students were very proud of themselves for their behaviours and their hard work in class and they all improved immensely in all areas.

 

How do you teach your students about the difference between equality and equity?

What are someways in which you challenge your students-those that are struggling and those that are at or above level?

What are your thoughts on Rita Pierson’s TEDTalk on Everyone Needs a Champion? Do you agree with her? Why or why not?

November 1

Chapter 4- November: I am a Valued Member of This Learning Community

Relationships, relationships, relationships. They are so important in every aspect of our lives! Think about this for a second, if you did not have a positive relationship with your friend, would you want to hang out with them? The same could be said for the student-teacher relationship. Why would you expect a student to want to be in your class and learn from you if they did not like you when you do not enjoy spending time with people whom you have relationship?

There are many great ideas in this chapter that give you ideas on how to build your relationships with your students. Some other ideas include attending their extracurricular events, such a a hockey, soccer or baseball game, going to a dance or skating recital, watching their play or music concert. I live in a small town so it may be easier for me to build and foster relationships with my students, I see them everywhere- the grocery store, the playground, the pool, the hockey arena- everywhere! It also helps that I have a school-aged child of my own who also attends the school in which I work. Building relationships with the students can be as simple as saying good morning, giving a smile and asking how their day is going when you see them for the first time at school. Addressing them by name is also so very important. As a Learning Assistance Teacher, I have the wonderful opportunity to get to work with all of the students in the school, and I make it a priority to learn each and every student’s name. Since there is a chance that I will be in their classroom or working with the directly at some point in the year, I want them to know that I value them.

Relationship building is not only reserved to the students. We also need to build relationships with the parents. Again coming at this from a small town, I know many of the parents of the students I work with. The difficulty I have had however, is keeping the majority of them in the loop more than just with our reporting periods. Some parents hear from me much too often due to difficulties with the behaviour of their children, so it is imperative that I am in contact with them regularly. This year, it is my goal to keep in touch with all of my parents, even if it is just a quick note to say what we are working on this week and how they can support their student, or a quick note to say how hard their child is working on their learning activities. This is my goal this year!

SD 27 put out a wonderful 12 minute video on how their district is working on building strong relationships and the benefits they are seeing from doing so.

 

How are you working on building relationships with your students? Your parents? Your colleagues?

What are some of the activities that you do at the beginning and throughout the year that help to build on these relationships?

October 1

Chapter 3: My Brain is Like a Muscle That Grows

This month the topic is the brain. Teaching students about the brain and how it grows is very interesting for them. I did a similar lesson with my Grade 5 class last year and they wanted to know more and more about the brain. I like the models of the brain that you would get out of these lessons. I wish that we would have done something like that-Next time for sure!

I also have a couple of videos that I used to show how the brain develops hardwired pathways with practice.

 

These are just a couple of the little videos we watched. The video on neuroplasticity was very interesting for the students. We discussed times when we needed to practice a lot to see improvements. A lot of sports activities came out, but also things like math facts, songs etc. were also brought up. Throughout the year, it is important to remind the students that they are continuing to grow their brains through the repetition and practice of different activities.

 

One thing I never thought to teach the kids was about metacognition-the act of thinking about how we think. The revised curriculum plays very well into teaching about metacognition. There are some great activity ideas on pages 69 and 70 to grow a student’s understanding of how they think in different situations.  The other area this chapter talks about is giving your brain stimulating breaks or doing “brain-boosting” activities. There are some ideas of these on page 71. One type of brain break that we used in our class was www.gonoodle.com. As a class we logged 481 active minutes on GoNoodle, and I was only part time in the classroom. We had some favourite activities like “Strike a Pose” and “Run the Red Carpet”. Some of my more athletic students really enjoyed the sports events in the Go With The Pro category and when someone was feeling a little cheeky we would  end up doing the Maxerena or the Chicken Dance with Maximo. These little breaks were very good for all the students and they helped after long activities where their brains we being taxed.

 

What are your thoughts on teaching students in Kindergarten through high school about their brains? Are these activities lined out in this chapter adaptable for every grade level? Will you use them or come up with a different plan?

Do you have any good brain break activities that you’d be able to share with the group?

 

P.S. I came across a song while traveling this summer that I thought was very applicable to the Growth Mindset. The song is “Anything” by Hedley. I think it speaks very clearly to the fact that you can do anything if you want it and work for it. Plus, I just liked the song 🙂

 

September 1

Chapter 2- September: Everyone Can Learn!

Everyone Can Learn- what an interesting concept! In my opinion this is what everyone who goes into the field of education aspires to live up to- ensuring that all of the students in their classes learn. However, I think, with some experience, we all come to know that there are some students who do not seem to learn everything we put forth. It is important to remember that every student does learn, some more than others, as no one is the same, but everyone does indeed learn! Teaching our students about the growth mindset will likely lead to more engaged learning, more confidence and greater growth from more students.

As we set up our classrooms for the year, it is important to think of all the details. Creating a welcoming classroom environment where every student can feel safe and wanted is a precursor to the ability to learn in the space. Making the space a growth mindset zone will be very important as well. The chart on pages 45 and 46 which outlines some features of a growth-oriented classroom could be very helpful. I am currently setting up my own classroom, which is shared with 3 other adults- another LART and 2 First Nations Support Workers. Trying to create a space that would allow all of us adults our own space to work, as well as places for all of the students to work was a challenge. I do hope that the set up promotes growth- tables are placed for collaborative work to be done, there are personal spaces as well. We have a couch and bean bags set up and there are even yoga mats for those that would like to lay down to work too. Since it is the beginning of the year, there is nothing on the walls, except for the usuals- alphabet and number line, but class rules and student work will come in the future. I will have to work on the discipline piece! Maybe this should be where my growth goal lies?

Involving parents is noted as a very important aspect of teaching growth mindset. I wholeheartedly agree! I was working on teaching my grade 5 students last year and skipped this part- more because I could not decide on how to write the letter, or maybe it was complete apathy on my part. Anyways, I found that my students did not get the same information from both me and their parents which led to some students growing further in the growth mindset than others. Would it have helped to have included the parents more? I am not sure, although all the books I have read thus far indicate that it would have. I am not sure of how I will be able to include my parents this year as I work with so many different students and only for short periods of time in a day/week/year. I think that I will focus on the students I see daily for longer periods of time. I do love the letter written in the book. It really sums it up nicely and lays it out in a manageable way for parents to understand.

The lesson plan looks great! Adaptable for your needs with many different options and extensions. One thing it is lacking is the ability to use with small groups- well at least small intervention groups. For me – and maybe you?- I will need to teach my students less formally, through my actions, words and conversations about the growth mindset. I am curious to hear how others use this lesson plan. If you do end up doing this lesson, please do reflect on this post, I am really interested in how it goes!

Just a quick note- I have ventured out into the ocean on my kayak! The water was like glass, the weather was perfect and my husband asked, saying that we couldn’t ask for better conditions to try a paddle on the ocean. I agreed, told him I was scared and let him know that we had to stay very close to shore. When he agreed to my terms, we brought the kayaks down to the water and hopped in. After push-off, a few deep breaths and some self-talk to calm myself, I began paddling. We were out for at least an hour and it was wonderful! Given the right conditions, I hope to go again soon!

Now on to some questions for reflection:

Will you include your parents in the growth mindset conversation? How will you do it? A letter? A meeting, maybe at meet the teacher?

How did the lesson go with your students? Did you use this lesson or approach it some other way?

Have you had any successes or learning with your growth goal?

August 15

Introduction and Chapter 1

The introduction of The Growth Mindset Coach is an excellent preview of what is to come throughout the course of this book. Each month’s mantra serves as a wonderful starting off point and a gentle reminder as we focus on each topic. The one comment that stuck out the most for me in the introduction was: “We all have a fixed mindset and a growth mindset; it’s just a matter of deciding which one to use in any given situation.”~Carol Dweck I truly hope that everyone is able to get something out of each one of these chapters to improve your teaching and/or personal lives.

As this is the third book I have read on Growth Mindset, the first chapter was, for me, a good review. Annie Brock and Heather Hundley reviewed the terms fixed and growth mindset, as described by Carol Dweck:

Fixed Mindset– Assumes that intelligence and other qualities, abilities, and talents are fixed traits that cannot be significantly developed

Growth Mindset– Assumes that intelligence and other qualities, abilities and talents can be developed with effort, learning, and dedication.

 

As stated above, we all have both mindsets in us and it is just about listening to one over the other, however this is not always an easy task. It is something I have been working on, especially with my children, but I am not always successful, yet. There are many different people that are quite successful with this, as shown by the authors in Chapter 1. Do you have any personal examples of people that exhibit the growth mindset in different situations? What are their stories? Do you exhibit the growth mindset in certain situations? What is your story?

As some of you already know, I exhibited a growth mindset in karate in that I really wanted my brown belt and had to pass my physical test before I could even test for the belt. This required 60 sit-up in 65 seconds or less and 70 push-ups. I knew I could do the sit-ups, but the push-ups were more of a challenge. With lots of practice and effort, I was able to pass my physical test (with a bit of leniency from my sensei!). Another example for me was again with a physical activity. I am afraid of small boats, like kayaks and canoes- especially on open water, but even on lakes and rivers. We have a 19ft boat, which I feel comfortable on in the lake and the ocean, but i am always afraid of falling out of a kayak or canoe. This summer, I tried my friend’s kayak. I was totally out of my comfort zone. I did love the peaceful quiet and the time spent with my husband, but I was not comfortable in the tippy kayak (which actually was very stable!). On that day however, I decided that I would buy my husband a kayak for his birthday, so he and my oldest son could go paddling together. When we went to the store to purchase one for him, he decided that he would not get one if we did not also get one for me. I was not overly excited about this, but agreed. Once we went out camping and got to use them, I found that I actually enjoyed kayaking and although I am still gaining my kayaking legs, especially when it comes to getting in and out of the kayak onto a dock (I just about fell into the lake fully clothed-my husband thought it was hilarious but did come to my rescue) but I know that over time I will become more and more comfortable and might even venture out into the ocean at some point.

~Is there someone you know (either personally or otherwise) who exhibits a growth mindset? What is their story?

 

The second section of the chapter talks about your own experiences with teachers. You will have had memorable teachers in both positive and negative ways. I do remember some of my teachers, but had a hard time thinking of 3 ways in which they were positive memories from one teacher and 3 negatives from one teacher. I decided to combine a couple of teachers for both of these. My most memorable teachers included an elementary school band teacher who not only encouraged me to try out many different instruments, but also encouraged me to join an after-school band, another elementary school teacher who taught me and many other students French during a special lunch time French club. A couple of my negative experiences were an elementary school teacher who set up a spelling game that ended up making me feel shameful and even led me to cheating on my homework as I was struggling and not able to move ahead in the game, to a high school history teacher who could never remember to which class he taught different information, leading to neither class having learned everything we were supposed to have learned.

~Can you remember some of your teachers? What were your positive and negative experiences? How can these experiences help you in your own teaching?

 

Another huge part of this chapter is making a growth mindset goal. I found this to be very difficult as I know I need to grow in my growth mindset, but I was struggling with narrowing down a goal that was manageable. I believe that I have come up with a plan after doing some research on possible growth mindset goals. My goal is to change my wording from saying “I can’t” to “I will give this a try and try my best!”  I know that this is manageable. I will ask my husband to support me in this and hang up some gentle reminders throughout the house to help me remember. This will be an ongoing goal, but I will review my progress at the beginning of each month. If you, like me are having some difficulties, I have added a link below that may give you some ideas for goals:

growth goals examples-2bzkpxj

 

What is your goal for your own growth mindset journey?

 

I am hopeful that we can all be a support for each other with our growth mindset goals! Every little bit can help!

 

I will post about Chapter 2 on September 1st. Enjoy these last few weeks of summer before we are back to the grind once again!

 

August 7

Another Huge Welcome!

Welcome to our second and third book studies with TIE-BC!

 

This time I have chosen 2 different books, The Growth Mindset Coach by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley, and Fostering Resilient Learners- Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom by Kristin Souers. These two book studies will be running concurrently, with The Growth Mindset Coach beginning on August 15th and Fostering Resilient Learners beginning in early September.

We will move through The Growth Mindset Coach at a slower pace of one chapter per month, since this is the st-up of the book. In my personal opinion, it is best to read the chapter at the beginning of each month rather than in the middle or end of the month, so that you can put the activities and lessons into practice. It would probably be best to post closer to the end of the month.

We will move through Fostering Resilient Learners quite a bit faster. It is set up into 5 parts and we will go through each part every month, so we will be finished this book in time for Crosscurrents.

 

I am looking forward to learning with all of you over the course of the 2017-2018 school year!