Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Growth Mindset - Literally!

Do you recognize Dr. Suess's Oh! The Places You Go! Here's one of the places I've been hanging out lately.
Yes, my arms are sore. 

It's been eight weeks of being one legged from a broken ankle. 
No weight-bearing.
It shouldn't really be that big a deal right? 
I'm in good health otherwise...but this whole thing has shaken me. 
Big time.

Every single step, every single movement, even sleeping or waiting at a stand still, is difficult.

Every ordinary difficulty: your keys falling under the car, your scrap of paper on the ground, putting your suitcase away, taking a shower, buying groceries, eating, sitting, waiting in a

Or you can tell yourself: another chance to be brave.
And, man, am I brave!

It can become a mental test...
as the universe would have it, I had decided to embrace a new way of looking at students and learning right before this whole thing happened.

Two days before that fateful meeting of basketball and foot,
I excitedly told Caroline that the theme for this school year was having a "Growth Mindset".

For quite awhile, educators have been throwing around the term "Growth Mindset" and I've been doing that famous thing we all do when we think we already know about things: 
"Oh yeah, yeah, yeah..."

But then I started listening to Jo Boaler - math educator extraordinaire - and my mind started soaking it in. Jo Boaler is an educational math researcher and she is revolutionizing the way math is being taught. Her research out of Stanford is stunning; her results are extraordinary.

I became a convert.

The tenets of a "Growth Mindset" include these things:
Struggle is the sweet spot of learning - this is where your brain grows. During struggle, you form new synapses and create new brain pathways. You want to struggle. [In classrooms that really embody the Growth Mindset, it is not unusual to hear a student say in a disappointed way, "Aww, I didn't get to struggle!" when somebody else shouts out the answer.] 

Mistakes are a good thing. There is no shame. There should be no embarrassment. Accept that mistakes are going to happen...wait for them and feel excited. When we analyze our mistakes, more growth happens.

Speed is not important. Deep thinking matters. Careful consideration matters. Considering different viewpoints and other angles matters. What is so awesome about being speedy? That's for Google. Humans can slow down and focus on what matters.

The Power of Yet - our brain has changes and grows with every new experience. If you can't do something, it doesn't mean you won't. With the right support, you can learn and do anything!

• There is absolutely no research that supports the idea that you are born with a "math brain" or an "art gift". Simply untrue. These are the limits we place on ourselves and on our children or students. We MUST dismantle that fixed mindset

If you believe you can, you can! Ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy...that is real.

Imagine learning in a classroom that embraces a Growth Mindset?

How about living with a Growth Mindset?

I highly recommend it!

These past eight weeks have been ridiculous.

But with a Growth Mindset, they have been bearable. 
Every insane obstacle became an opportunity for my brain to grow. I accepted my mistakes. I keep telling myself that I have The Power of Yet with me. Instead of thinking of all the things I couldn't do, I was able to tell myself YET and believe that I will - eventually.

These eight weeks have been hard...but if I hadn't believed in the Growth Mindset, 
I would have been in a full funk.
And, hey! I am literally growing something...not just my brain.

It's clear that this injury is going to take a long while to heal fully.
No biking.
No walking my dog.
No long walks just because...
but with a Growth Mindset, I know I will do those things again.

It's a tiny, powerful word: YET.

I'll get there.

Until then, go enjoy your ankles. :)