Are We Modeling A Growth Mindset For Our Students?
Those of you that have followed my blog for a while know that I love to share content based technology resources that I have created to teach my own “Little Techies” so that you can teach yours in creative and meaningful ways, specifically using Google Tools. Today, you will notice a bit of a change from my typical content. Instead of compiling a series of structured lessons for you to use with your own “Little Techies”, I was hoping that you would humor me this time so that I can share a few inspiring stories, my own struggles and insights that are near and dear to my heart.
Many of us are using the term “Growth Mindset” in our 21st Century classrooms to facilitate a healthy attitude toward learning among our students. Go You!
A “Growth Mindset” according to Author Dr. Carol Dweck, is a way of thinking that puts emphasis on own passion and effort we put into a process when we cultivate certain qualities about ourselves. Video- Growth Mindset vs. Fixed MIndset. Often times this process can be a result of failures we learn from. So basically, anyone can learn through application and experience. Isn’t that great news for those of us that grew up thinking that everyone else had all the talent?
As I continue to work in K-5 buildings, I see more schools making fantastic progress toward facilitating a “Growth Mindset” and 21st Century Skills by adding G Suite to their daily routines for content delivery and project work for kids. We are deliberately allowing more opportunities for teachers and students to practice the Four C’s for 21st Century Learning –Communicate, Collaborate, Think more Critically and be Creative every day!
It is encouraging to see teachers willing to learn alongside their students. This is, in my opinion, one of the best gifts we can give our students, to allow them room to explore and be creative is certainly the key to making substantial growth as educators in today’s ever-changing educational landscape, despite the challenges we face as we try to keep up.
I have three stories for you that will hopefully inspire you as they did me! Three perfect examples of students that went far beyond my expectations all because they were given exposure to the tools and then given time to “Sandbox” and explore how those tools work. Most kids stop here and look for the next “toy” to simply entertain themselves with and never really connect what they learn and apply it to a practical use. Well, not for these three kiddos:
Eliana used her “Google Ninja Skills” to start her own Dog-Sitting and Mail Collection service in her neighborhood. She created a Google Form to collect customer data from her mother’s Facebook page! She was in my 3rd-grade Chrome Squad at the time.
Drew’s teacher tweeted about him teaching his 4th-grade class how to be safe online using Google’s “Be Internet Awesome”.
Alex recently won an award for his tech contributions in class- “Shining Light Award 2018”
His 3rd Grade classroom teacher’s award nomination- “Alex has matured into a distinct leader as a technology expert among his classmates this year in Third Grade. Demonstrating a passion for all things tech-related, he has attended Mrs. Robin Limpert’s technology classes during lunch/recess as well as in the After School Enrichment Program for the past two school years. These optional technology classes have increased Alex’s knowledge and confidence with tech tools making him our resident “Tech Expert”!
These stories make my HEART SMILE and remind me why I do what I do every day. For any teacher, the satisfaction of knowing that you had a part of a child’s success is nothing more than life-changing. A huge emphasis in our “Chrome Squad” is helping others with what we learn in our group, so I was thrilled to see Alex take this challenge to heart. (Click here to read about our Chrome Squad Journey) I am confident that these students will certainly surpass my skill level very soon and you know what? I am thrilled about that!
4 Traits of Successful 21st Century Teachers with A Growth Mindset
Those of us that have taught for a while have seen educational trends fade and return again with a new shiny bow on top. Only the names of the initiatives have been changed with a new acronym to “Protect the Innocent”. (Sorry, I could not help myself!) But what stands out to me as I look back on my 25 years of teaching young children, I have seen a few common traits among teachers that are now, in my mind, effectively teaching their students to be ready for the 21st Century.
Those traits are Humility, Vision, Tenacity and a true LOVE for their kids! These traits are ones I aspire to and miss the mark on many occasions, however, I know the value I hold in my own classroom, so each day is a new day to get up and try again! Positive “Self-Teacher-Talk” (Below) helps me re-focus my energies.
Effective 21st Century teachers need to have the Humility to step back and be comfortable allowing our students to learn and even make mistakes ahead of us at times. We are no longer the only source of all knowledge. Thank goodness! Our students need us to get out of their way at times when it comes to certain tasks. I really struggle with this one. Anyone else? Especially if I know that my principal is due to come by for an evaluation.
Of course, there are many variables to consider, such as:
*The type of assignment
*The age of the student
*The materials necessary for the task.
In the end, we need to teach them how to use the appropriate tools so that they can be ready for 21st Century Learning, to independently be creative, think critically, communicate and collaborate effectively.
Effective 21st Century Teachers need to have a Vision for student learning. This trait is definitely unique to each person but I feel that it benefits the kids if teachers have embraced the premise that we are preparing our young students for a future that we cannot fathom so keeping them in our “Old Ways” of learning will truly hold them back. Our Vision for them should be one of excitement and wonder of the awesome learning experiences our students have in front of them- Technological Advancements in every aspect of their lives, like Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligences, and so many other amazing ventures. If you think about it, these things would not even be available now had it not been for teachers that humbly allowed their students to create!
Effective 21st Century Teachers need to have the Tenacity to stay the course when things get tough. I have to say that I have been the victim of discouragement, especially when I first began trying to implement technology in my classroom 8 years ago. Administrators were bound by funding, peers were not exactly on board with my excitement and parents only saw tech as a “Toy”. I have to say that my time failing and learning has been well worth the wait.
And most importantly, effective 21st Century teachers need to have a genuine Love for their students. This is a huge challenge when dealing with certain students with less than desirable character traits, we all have those kids, I get it! But as mature adults we may be the only positive role model that child has or may ever have. Kids know who really cares for them and who they can trust. They are passing through our care for such a short time. Let’s try to make the best of it for our kids’ sake. We may never really know the true harvest of the seeds we plant, but then again we do get to see a few sprouts if we take the time to look!
Self -Teacher- Talk over, I feel better already!