Optimism (Mindset #1)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mraz and Hertz

     January begins, and learning gets serious. We re-evaluate the first half of the year, and push forward.  My principal, +Karen Marino, wanted to start 2016 off with a session during our Institute Day about goal setting.  She is an avid reader, so when she prepares for things it often involves reading a book or some articles.  This time, she couldn't have found a more perfect match (in my opinion, at least.)

     My district adapted a standards based grading system this year, and we are in the midst of a major shift in thinking about learning and grading.  Karen wanted us to create SMART goals as teachers, and while introducing it she showed us the 5 "mindsets for learning" that we should have developed in our learning communities.  Rather than jumping to students setting goals, we really need to embrace the mindsets that learners have.  We can't focus just on learning standards and the CCSS when we set goals.  They have to have a growth mindset mentality that embraces the process of learning, and we can develop that through modeling and directly naming the mindsets that will make us successful learners.  I think we embraces this at Hiawatha a few years ago, but how much time do we actually spend beyond the first few weeks talking about learner behaviors?

     After her presentation, a group of us got together at our district EdCamp and created a "slow chat" on Twitter.  A slow chat is where you give a question, like in a Twitter chat, but instead of only having the standard 8-10 minutes to answer it, you stretch out the time that you accept answers.  We decided to take answers for a week.  We created a calendar to introduce one mindset per week, either in morning meeting or throughout the day.  As a staff, we would share the books, resources, and lessons we used with our building hashtag, #hiawathapride.

     Thanks, +Lori Horne+Tyler Haar+Katherine Whisler, +Kathryn Wallace, +Theresa Carrillo, +Virginia Burdett, and +Karen Marino for meeting during edCamp to work out the details.

     We are now starting week 1!


     Here is a "one sheet" that I created for our staff to use during Morning Meeting or when introducing it to their class.  It is based on the ideas in A Mindset For Learning.  There is so much more in the actual book!

     When I think of optimism, I think about having the ability to see the positive side of things.  I think that people who are optimistic tend to be willing to face struggles, because they can see the possibility for success on the other side.  I think that it is a mindset that we can have that can really change our perspective on the way we see things. Many people see things as "glass half empty" and other see it as "glass half full."  I saw this image of a giraffe, and thought, "Exactly!"  We all have, within ourselves, the ability to see things from a positive or a negative perspective.  Those that are optimistic and see the positive side of things are more likely to overcome the challenges and succeed.  One person (or in this case, one giraffe) can choose to be optimistic or not.

     How can we help our students at Hiawatha (or in the world beyond) be optimistic?  Let's follow the #hiawathapride hashtag and find out.  Once we introduce "optimism" we don't forget about it, so we can answer this question for the rest of the year.  Mindsets work together to make a learner successful.

     Two of my favorite books for optimism?  An old favorite, given to me by +Diona Iacobazzi, is Beautiful Oops.  It is about seeing mistakes as opportunities.  A new favorite, written by the wonderful Kevin Henkes, is A Good Day.  It is about a bad day turning around.

     Also, as we wrap up MLK weekend, I can't help but think of Dr. King as a person who showed optimism (as well as many of the the other learning mindsets to come).  He was willing to take a risk and stand up for what he knew was right.  There were many challenges and problems back then that deterred reaching equality, and there still are many today.  But, he worked to bring change anyway.  He was optimistic that his voice could make a difference for millions of people.  

     Ok, Hiawatha!  Let's explore OPTIMISM!  #hiawathapride

How does your classroom embrace optimism?  
How do students show optimism?


  1. That book has been on my "to buy" list for awhile! I'm excited to read more about it from you :-) January is the perfect month for optimism - it's so cold and rarely sunny - so happy you're spreading it around via your blog!
    also - that giraffe image is absolutely perfect!

  2. I tried to open some of your "One Sheets" and was unable to get them to open. Would you be willing to send them to me via email? crohrer@kewaskumschools.org