Growth Mindset...what's all the hype?

Friday, July 21, 2017

growth mindset - how to implement into your classroom, ideas, tips on growth mindset

Growth mindset - another 'buzz' word in education right now right along with rigorous, data, scaffolding, brain break, etc.  Let me tell you a little about growth mindset and how it changed my classroom community last year.

Growth mindset is defined as believing that most basic abilities that we were born with or have grown into can be further developed through dedication and hard work.  This mindset believes brains and talent are just the starting point and the sky's the limit.  This concept was developed by Dweck in 2006 and in recent years schools and educators have taken notice and implemented her ideas.

Last summer I did a little reading up on it and thought I would give it a try by introducing the concept to my students.  I did it in a very cheerleader, peppy kind of way.  My thought was if I was excited and into it they would 'buy into' it.  It worked!  YAY me!  I teach third grade so it wasn't too hard.  Let me tell you why I'm so glad I did this from DAY 1.  I had a student - we will call him Robert.  He came into my room with a long response from the previous teacher's ( pink's and blue's ).  I think most of you know what I'm talking about....this blue card is what prompted me to write this quote last year BTW:

teacher quote, give each student a fresh start, inspirational

Back to my story - this young man had a very fixed mindset.  This is the definition of a fixed mindset:  the belief that their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent are simply fixed traits.  They also believe that talent alone dictates their success without effort.  They often make excuses for their failures creating a self fulfilling prophecy - " I'll never be able to do math because I've always been terrible at it."  This self talk is so destructive and halts their learning process. 
This young man had self talk that broke my heart, he thought he was terrible at everything and was known to throw a pencil and run out of the classroom to deal with his stress.
From day 1 I spoke about Growth and Fixed mindsets and how our class was taking on the growth mindset route.  I spoke a lot about being 'big kids' as in third grade my students move to the big kid hallway.  I said things like, " we are in the big kid hallway and this is what is expected of us..."  My students rose to the occasion and I loved hearing them 'check themselves or their friends.'  For instance, I heard things like, " no, you can do this remember we have a growth mindset in our class."  " You got this!"  The positivity was flowing like joke!  My class last year was the most positive, loving, encouraging classroom environment I've ever had - AND - I'm a 23 year veteran.  The shift in how we spoke to one another and how we looked at challenges was overwhelming to watch a good way of course.  I would get choked up at my desk listening to my students encourage this little guy that struggled so much. 
The best moment I think was before state tests ( which c'mon it's hard for anyone to be positive around that time right?!?!  )  No one says, I love state tests! 
This little guy came up and told me how nervous he was for the state tests.  He said, " I'll probably just fail!"  I said, " Robert, you know better than that of course you're going to rock them.  Just do your best and focus on how far you've come this year. "  He smiled really big and said, " You're right Mrs. Moore, I've got this! "  It made my heart melt.  This is a child that never said anything positive regarding school since kindergarten.  
If the only reason I incorporated growth mindset last year was to reach him then it was all worth it, because let me tell you - He changed!  Everyone on campus noticed his mental/behavioral change.  It was amazing to watch happen over the year.
I'm sold, I wish I knew about this years ago and I'm looking forward to teaching it to my students every year.  I'm all about building a classroom community and building relationships first...always have been.  This goes right along with that philosophy and fit it perfectly with how I run my classroom.  If  you'd like to learn more you can read about it  { here }

You can grab some growth mindset products to get you started here as well.

growth mindset printables, craftivity, ideas to implement into your classroom

growth mindset reflection printables

I just want to challenge you to give it a try in your classroom this year, I'm certain it will be a game changer for you like it was for me.  Best of luck!


7 Helpful Tips for Teachers for Back to School

Tuesday, July 11, 2017
It's July...some of you are in FULL summer mode #donttalktomeaboutschool others are heading back in just a few short weeks.  Either way you will want to read this now or pin these tips for later.  

Back to School teacher tips for an easy school year.  Get organized and ready for a successful year.

Back to School - it can be seen as a four letter word for some, others embrace it and can't wait.  I know I start to have Back to School nightmares starting around the end of July.  I love all things back to school though.  The new clothes, new crayons, decorating my classroom.  I love it all!  I have some friends that dread back to school time and seriously wish they could fast forward to October - so I wanted to share 7 tried and true tips for teachers for Back to School.

1.  Get Organized ASAP ~ even if this isn't your strength you need to find a way to do this to set yourself up for a smooth teaching year.  If you need to seek out help from others, pin ideas on pinterest, do what you have to in order to get those cabinets and files in order.  

It doesn't even have to be this pretty - Cara Carroll has created a beautiful space indeed.  However, if all you have in your budget are containers and index cards use what you have, label and organize your materials and files.  Trust me you will thank me later!

2.  Have a plan ~ you need to have a plan in place for your procedures, rules, consequences, etc.  Think about will the traffic of your classroom flow, can they get up to sharpen a pencil, what is your bathroom policy?  Click photo to find a procedures check off list from classroomfreebies

classroom procedures are key to having a great school year, back to school

3.  Build relationships right from the start!  This is my personal favorite.  I'm all about building relationships and making my classroom feel like a 'family'.  We are with our students more than the parents during the day and we need to build those relationships and create a risk free environment right away.  Yes, building those relationships takes time - but don't waste it.  Let them know that you want to get to know them and care about them from the minute you meet them.  You can read more about this topic on my post { here }

building relationships in the classroom is one of the most important things you can do, back to school tips

4.  Plan the first 2 weeks!  Yes, I know it seems a bit extreme, but trust me you will be glad you did this.  Do you have a wonderful team?  Plan it out with them, I'm pretty sure at least one of them will be up for it.  OVERPLAN the first 2 days for sure, but go ahead and plan out your first 2 weeks to make you feel more comfortable.  You will have a lot coming at you those first few weeks.  Tweaks to your class list, new staff or team members, maybe even new admin, Back to School night, Meet the teacher night.  Yikes, it makes me tired just thinking about it all.

over plan the first few weeks of school, back to school tip Teaching and Much Moore

5.  Visual Schedules are your friend!  It doesn't matter if you teach kinder or 5th grade.  Kids will come in a bit anxious especially if they are new to your school and a schedule helps them feel more at ease.  They know what to expect for the day if they see a schedule use one from the first day on! 

Leave a daily schedule up even from the first day to help anxious kids feel more confident, back to school tips.

6.  Have an organized system down for accepting donations from families.  I don't know about you but I'm lucky enough to teach in a district that has lots of parent involvement and support.  When I greet students on the first day most of them are carrying 2 big bags of donations along with their backpack or they are being followed by mom or dad with big bags of donations.  Your room will quickly become cluttered if you don't have a system down for this.  I prepped crates before school started and labeled them - glue, crayons, paper, etc.  While the students were working on something independent I called groups of kids to drop their donations in the crates.  They felt important and I was quickly was a win - win and reduced the crazy first week clutter quickly.  

Prep labeled crates to collect school supplies students bring in the first week of school.  Back to school tip, Teaching and Much Moore

7.  Take a deep breath - have fun, relax.  This is more for newer teachers but I still get some butterflies after all these years teaching so it's a little reminder for myself as well.  If you come across anxious or nervous your students and parents will pick up on that.  Be confident you were born for this, let the parents know you will LOVE on their kids like they were your very own.  Enjoy your year and build memories that will last a lifetime.  
( Most of them )  will only have 1 first/kinder/third/etc. grade teacher - make this year memorable!

Build those relationships with your students and their families right from the start.  Back to School teacher tips.

I hope these tips help you relax and head into your best teaching year ever!  Happy teaching my friends!