Friday, December 14, 2012

What is your Mindset?

Several months ago I happened to be perusing around Twitter when I stumbled upon a blog post by @PrincipalJ , she had just finished the book Mindset by Carol Dweck.  I really enjoyed her post and I found that I connected with the frame of thinking.  A few weeks later my good friend and colleague Sue Haney began reading Mindset.  She raved about the book!  She also posted thoughts in her blog.  You can find Sue on Twitter @susankhaney , her blog pushed me over the top and I purchased the book.  As of now I'm not finished, but I'm compelled to share my current thoughts, charts, and quotes.  

First, what exactly is a "Mindset"?  Technically speaking a mindset is a noun.  The definition is:  a set of beliefs or a way of thinking that determines one's behavior, outlook and mental attitude.

Given that definition I feel as though I have several mindsets or so I thought.  Then I began reading Carol Dweck's book.  I soon found that maybe I was over thinking this, maybe there are only two mindsets.  That got me to think back...

Throughout my ten years in the classroom I encountered hundreds of students.  It did not take me long to get a feel for students.  Early in the year I always assigned a project.  The project was titled, "Home to School Map".  I shared past examples, I gave students poster boards, and I also gave students the option of working on the project at school, home, or both.  I listened to the comments students made.  Several loved the challenge, but every year I had a few that grumbled.  Now that I have researched, read, and learned I believe the difference in these students was the mindset.  Below is a diagram of the Fixed versus Growth Mindset.

I love this quote by Dweck, "The View you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.  It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value."  

As you look at the above chart I ask you to analyze yourself.  Be honest with yourself.  Where do you fall?  A few categories stick out to me, they are, Success Of Others, Criticism, and Effort.  I think of my students, I think of the ones that rose to the challenge.  I think of my old colleagues, as a teacher I knew who had a Growth and who had a Fixed Mindset.  I think of my close friends, here again, I have a pretty good idea where they fall.  

I must say that I do believe people can change.  I have a great friend, he and I attended college together and for the past several years we have played together on a summer golf league.  During college I would have told him that he had a "Fixed Mindset".  Over the past several years I have witnessed a transformation.  His Faith is much stronger, his Fitness is drastically improved, his Attitude is very optimistic.  I now believe he has a true "Growth Mindset".  People can change.  Change is not easy, change takes time.  

For example imagine this scenario - you are an adult and you are experiencing a "really" bad day:  you receive criticism from your employer, you are feeling angry and upset.  Later as you begin to drive home you receive a ticket.  You are very frustrated, you decide to share your experience with a close friend, but essentially you feel brushed off.  If you begin to blame, talk negatively to yourself, start to think that life is unfair, resort to calling things bad luck, or question your faith you would likely fall into the Fixed Mindset.  BUT, if you received the criticism and immediately thought "I must improve" or "I can work harder."  As for the ticket, what if you take ownership and responsibility and simply pay the fine.  Finally, as for your close friend brushing you off, what if you said to the person is anything troubling you, rather than focusing everything on yourself.  These small steps are part of the Growth Mindset.  

Each day we are tested, each day several circumstances come up that force us to react.  It is human nature to not be perfect.  I say embrace this, grow from mistakes, continue learning, and take on the Mindset of Growth.  
I highly recommend the book by Carol Dweck.  As you reflect, think about this:  Would you want your own kids to have a Growth or Fixed Mindset?  Would you rather work with someone that has a Growth or Fixed Mindset?  What Mindset to you gravitate towards?

Next Week at a Glance:

Tuesday, December 18th:  Select Choir 9am Assembly in Gym
Wednesday, December 19th:  K-2 Assembly
Wednesday, December 19th:  K and 4 Field Trip to Optimist Arena
Wednesday, Decmeber 19th:  Warner Community Outreach 4pm-7pm
Thursday, December 20th:  Holiday Parties
Friday, December 21st:  Lil Boy Blue has reserved the Cafeteria at 9am and 2pm

Great Things Noticed or Heard:

*  Enjoyed watching Mrs. Struck's students discuss axis, tilt, and seasons with each other.  Always powerful when peers teach each other.
*  Spent the day with Taylor R. pleased with his appropriateness and mental math ability.  He surprised me with his knowledge.
*  Saw a spectacular train track in Mrs. Kline's room!  Well done Abby!
*  Read stories to Shilah, Joshua, Lilly, and Heidi...reading never gets old.
*  String Teamers were delighted that their performance was on YouTube!  
*  Impressed with Dominic's ability to clearly explain his reasoning in math.  
*  Feeling a bit Rotten, headed into Mrs. Moffitt's room and thoroughly enjoyed my time with Bella, Breslin, Alex, Tyler, Grace, and the rest of Mrs. Moffitt's great group!
*  Random Acts of Kindness from Mrs. Dault's First Graders!  The enthusiasm and excitement make the holidays enjoyable.
*  50 degrees on December this Michigan?
*  CP Federal Credit Union workers were doing a fabulous job with our students.  Proud of the maturity and initiative this group is showing.
*  Great Science lesson in Miss Hinkley's class.  Prof. Kuntzelman came in and amazed the group with dry ice, liquid nitrogen, and other science tricks!  This was 100% engagement!
*  Enjoyed walking through the halls and classrooms and seeing so many wonderful decorations. 
*  Thank you to Susan Walz for continually helping out!  Susan stayed late into the night helping to prepare for Breakfast with Santa!
*  Really terrific messages sent by Secret Santas!  I like how we all pick each other up.  Thank you for making Warner special!

Articles Worth Reading:

Videos Worth Watching:

Year in Review (3 min)


Kid Snippet Dance Class (2 min)


Thoughts and Prayers with Connecticut. 


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