Fear of failure is the greatest failure of all. – John Wooden
As we close out 2017 and turn our eyes to 2018, many of us will be starting resolutions. The goal of a New Year’s resolution is to give us the opportunity to make the coming year a little bit better than the previous. I like to think of resolutions as each individual’s opportunity to make incremental change toward a better you.
In our schools we look to make this incremental change every day and have a Strategic Blueprint that outlines how that change will occur. One of the goals presented within our Strategic Blueprint is fostering a Growth Mindset in our students and staff. Much like the concept of the
New Year’s resolution, the Growth Mindset is an attitude more than a strategy. At its core, the Growth Mindset is about understanding that process is just as important a product and that mistakes are opportunities to grow and learn. The teachers and staff at our schools understand that a Growth Mindset is a prerequisite for a successful life and are committed to helping our students develop this important skill.
To that end, the staff came together in the afternoon on December 22 for our half-day institute day and watched the documentary, Beyond Measure. This film looks to challenge the assumptions of our current education story. This was artfully done through stories and vignettes from schools and classrooms around the country. These highlighted schools are found in rural Kentucky and New York City; they are schools in wealthy suburbs and struggling urban settings. Beyond Measure asks us to reconsider the greater purpose of education and whether our education system should value personal growth over test scores.
At the conclusion of the film, our assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, Dr. Jennifer Ban led the staff through a reflection activity that helped teachers discuss their beliefs and experiences. The post-film discussion centered on how teachers’ attitudes about student success and teachers’ behaviors in the classroom have changed since beginning our Growth Mindset journey. Given the timing of our institute day, we asked teachers to take what they have learned both about the Growth Mindset and their students and write a Growth Mindset New Year’s Resolution. As you would imagine our amazing staff developed some wonderful goals for the new year that will give our students the skills and dispositions to be successful in and out of the classroom. These resolutions included helping students to see the value of the learning process and not just the end product. Teachers also focused on giving students more choice and voice in regards to the work they do at school. I was also impressed at how many teachers’ goals focused on helping students to see the value of mistakes as opportunities to learn. This was an eye opening exercise and will surely result in our district achieving its mission which is: To create a community of inspired learners. Given the energy in the room, it is clear that 2018 will be an amazing year for our schools.