Monday, October 26, 2015

Growth Mindset = Change Happens

We have heard the characteristic of growth mindset a lot in education lately, in fact it is one of the top ten characteristics chosen by BPS instructional coaches that a good coach should demonstrate.  Sometimes it can seem like a term used to ease the pain of the rate of change that education is experiencing lately.  I was talking to a teacher the other day who told me it is hard to keep up when standards are changing every five years.  Believe me I get it, change is hard and asking someone to have a growth mindset may seem more tolerable than “look here is another new thing for you to try”

Take a look around, what industry is not changing at the pace of education if not faster?  Do you remember when the fist iPad came out?  It was six short years ago look at how the market on mobile devices has changed in just six years.  I was talking to a family member who owns an engineering firm in Chicago and he told me kids enrolled in masters programs for petroleum engineering will learn software and procedures that will be obsolete when they graduate in two years.  The pace of everything has quickened and it is not the time for education to slow down.  I have told this story before but I remember my mom driving me to my grandma’s house because she owned a set of encyclopedias I could use for a report I was working on in social studies.  Fast forward to my nine year old daughter eating cereal at the table while on YouTube learning to make a rubber band bracelet from a woman in Japan who does not speak English.  Our students have unprecedented and instant access to information like never before.  We did not choose the career of education to remain stagnant and become irrelevant.  We chose education to prepare young people to be productive and upstanding citizens of the world they will inherit.   

Last Wednesday I saw many of our staff demonstrating a growth mindset.  I saw teachers in our middle schools discussing communication strategies that went beyond Powerschool.  I saw staff discussing PLC norms and helping to build effective practice.  I heard high school teachers discussing what it is that students should know and be able to do in their classes.  I talked to teachers who were eager to use the new proficiency scales they were developing to redesign assessments.  I listened as teachers asked questions about where our district was headed and how they could be assured their input would be heard. I watched as elementary teachers worked to map their curriculum to guarantee students would experience all the necessary learning.  I listened as teachers gave their answers to "why" we teach and work so hard.  I was so impressed by the work and learning that was experienced and shared last Wednesday.  

Nothing about a growth mindset says that what we were or are doing is wrong it simply means we will continue to try and get better.  It doesn’t say that we won’t get some things wrong.  It does say that when we are wrong we will work to make it better.  It says we will make mistakes and learn from them.  We will get better every time we try.  

In the end we are still hiring highly qualified and effective teachers.  We are still asking students to learn their grade level and content standards.  Teaching, learning, and assessing are and will be the foundations of education.  The what and how of teaching will continue to change and evolve as we push new boundaries of what we and our students are capable of.  I for one know that my daughter and sons will need a growth mindset as the world around them continues to change and I appreciate all that our staff are doing to model and encourage that in my children.

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