Mindset for Learning: Next Steps

Sunday, February 21, 2016

    For the last 6 weeks, we have been using the ideas from A Mindset for Learning to promote the mindsets of optimism, persistence, flexibility, resilience, and empathy at Hiawatha School.  Check out these posts to read more about the mindsets, or look through #hiawathapride on Twitter.

Mraz and Hertz
     We are done!  We have now introduced all 5 mindsets!  Our kids are now so optimistic, persistent, flexible, resilient and empathetic!  Time to move on.

      Oh, wait.  They aren't all those things yet?  Weird.

      We know as educators that simply introducing concepts to children does not make them learn them.  With the mindsets, it could be easy to mistake that a child "gets" the mindsets because they have the vocabulary and can name it when they see a book character or fellow classmate showing it.  Actually demonstrating all 5 mindsets on their own when working, however, is much less likely.  In fact, at a current webinar with Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz (2/2016), they said that research shows that is takes TIME and SPACED PRACTICE for students to develop habits and learning behaviors.  Their slides are below:


     Hiawatha, I think we have to carry on the work.

     Now that our students have the vocabulary in their minds for the 5 mindsets, we need to carry on and develop lessons and situations that continue to reinforce practicing the habits of optimism, persistence, flexibility, resilience, and empathy.  How can we do that? Here are some ideas:

1.  Continue teaching and modeling the mindsets.

Read books, or watch videos, that demonstrate the value of using the 5 mindsets in actions.  This could be in morning meeting, or during read aloud, or in guided reading, or during unit time.  The truth is, mindsets are everywhere.  We just have to keep our eyes open to noticing them.  

2.  Know that Mindsets are just as important as academics.

We have time to teach children how to be a successful part of the community.  We have time to teach children that they have it within themselves to learn new things and control their own learning behaviors.  

We have the time.
Yes, the Common Core can wait. 

3.  We can teach the mindsets within the schedule we already have in place.

A well placed turn and turn, that has students talk about the persistence of a character, is not doing something "new."  It's taking a structure we already have in place, and just tweaking it so that it models something that we value.

The things that we value in our classrooms are loud and clear, even when we don't exactly say it.  Know what matters to you, and what makes a difference to our kids, and just change the book title or the format of the questions, and suddenly our mindsets take shape in our classroom.  

4.  One person can make a difference.

You can be the person who teaches a child how to believe in themself.  You can be the person who notices that a child struggles with persistence, and helps them find ways to persist and keep going.  You can be the person who shows a child that it matters how we treat others.

The truth is, we can't control someone's home life, or their years at school outside of our classroom.  But, we can control the time we have with them.  Use that time to be the person who helps a child realize that they can say, "I can do this.  I can try." and mean it!  It starts with the teacher.  You have to believe in yourself, too.  We can't tell kids to try new things, if we ourselves won't do the same in front of them.

5.  Look for where their mindsets fall apart when behavior falls apart.

Sometimes, when a child misbehaves, the punishment we give actually reinforces the problem.  If we were to look to the Mindsets and see if the child is struggling with one, and we choose to model and teach that instead of just punish the behavior, it's more likely that the child will be successful in the future.  

As we continue the year, keep looking at your students with the lenses of the Mindsets.  When you notice a struggle with one, do something about it!  Whole group, small group, or with individual students.  The book, A Mindset for Learning, have many lessons that you could use to reinforce or model them.  

     Thanks, Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz, for your fabulous book.  It is sure to make the children of today more successful tomorrow (and beyond).  Thanks for sharing your ideas with us.

     Hiawatha, keep using #hiawathapride if you find you are focussing on the Mindsets throughout the rest of the year.  :)

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