Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Celebrate Mistakes and Growth

Don't you just love staff meetings? I know seriously everyone gets to sit around and you usually listen to the same old thing. If your lucky someone brought some licorice or a homemade salsa dip or even better fresh baked cookies. However, every once in a while you attend a staff meeting and you see something you haven't seen before and it just hits you like "wow, I think that might be a good thing to do in my class but how?"

At our last staff meeting one of our teachers brought a presentation from a PD session that she attended. It was around the idea of "Growth Mindset". The concept is simple. Challenge your brain to grow by not always taking the easy route to solving a problem or attempting a task. While the concept seems simple when you actually sit back and reflect upon your teaching practise how often do you push your students to actually let their brain grow? A majority of your class on a given day would likely pick the easy route to do anything then the harder one. We know this and it shouldn't be a secret as we probably do the same thing on occasions when it comes to preparing assessments and lessons.

So why does this happen? How do we get away from it? That's hard and it probably looks and sounds very different in each class. 

Recently, I challenged my class to think of things that they find hard to do. It could be anything like getting straight A's on their report, scoring perfect on a spelling quiz, performing a presentation by themselves, or even finding away to make and keep friends on the school yard. All things that sound easy to an older person but are a real challenge to those around us. Remember, I have a grade 3/4 split class and these are the things they think about on a daily basis.

When I challenged my class to think of these things I had them record their ideas on a poster similar to the picture you will see below. I asked them to think of that something that was their particular challenge and I said to them to write it down on the sheet and say "I've never been able to..... YET!" 

See that's their goal now for the rest of the year. Each day they will be given an hour or so to come up with ideas that they can do that will help them accomplish their "YET"

My hope is that by taking these steps towards accomplishing their "YET" they will see that challenging themselves will help allow their brains to grow. Prove to them that it's alright to make mistakes as they accomplish their goal. Finally, I want them challenge themselves to get out of the route of taking the easy way out by doing something that means extra special to them.

Their posters hang in our room now right by where they stack their chairs daily. They see these posters at the start and end of their day. It's a nice reminder to them to push harder each day. This wall has become my new favourite wall in my classroom. Even our Kindergarten buddies got in on the action and have their own wall too. That one is my second favourite wall. 

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