It’s All About Mindset

Each morning, I wake up to the peaceful sound of the local rock music station near my town.  I find the soothing sound of Disturbed’s newest song calming.  It helps me awaken with a renewed sense of sleepiness.  I want to go back to sleep as soon as I wake up.  Getting out of bed is the last thing I want to do, but I do it because I need to.  As a teacher, I need to be there for my students.  I want to support them and show them care and attention.  I can’t do that if I stay in bed all day.  So, I get up, put on a happy face, and, “Fake it ’till I make it.”  I enter my school’s dining hall for breakfast greeting students with a high-five, smile, and excited “Happy —day!”  The students rarely greet me in response as they are still sleeping, but in the upright position.  Every once in awhile, a boy will respond with, “How are you doing?”  Every time, no matter the day or my true feelings, I say, “Best day of my life.”  While I do feel lucky to be alive on a daily basis, I don’t always feel like every day is great, but if I have a positive outlook and mindset, I will eventually take on positive feelings and thoughts.  Attitude can be contagious, even internally.  Looking at the world through happy eyes allows me to spread cheer, joy, and happiness.  Plus, I do find that I am generally in a happy mood inside because I work so hard to fake it externally.  It’s all about mindset.

To help remind my students of the power of mindset, in STEM class today, I shared with them a meeting I had with my school’s Science Department yesterday morning.  I explained how we discussed Growth Mindset and how it applies to our students.  I told them how valuable having a positive growth mindset can be on their overall learning and work ethic.  I said, “Today, I am going to meet with you all to assess your screencast videos.  Most of them will probably need to be revised.  This will make you mad, angry, and frustrated.  That’s understandable.  Who likes redoing work?  However, what’s important is what you do next.  Do you wallow in self-pity and say, ‘Woe is me,’ or do you encounter the challenge head on and say, ‘I can do this?’  If you utilize a growth mindset, you will find a new way to accomplish the task and solve the problem.  You will persevere and not give up.  While you may want to cry, scream, or yell at your peers today if you are faced with difficulties, try to see the experience as an opportunity to learn to overcome challenges.”  I didn’t say much, but I wanted my students to hear how crucial having a growth mindset is to learning.

Usually, when I offer students feedback on their work and have them revise it, they usually get frustrated, start yelling, cry, argue with their table partner, or become defiant.  Rarely will they try to overcome the problem and revise their work without much guffawing first.  However, today, was different.  All but one student needed to revise or finish their screencast video.  I provided them each with specific feedback on how they can grow their work.  They took this new knowledge back to their work space and worked at revising their video.  While only a few students were focused enough to accomplish the task in class, all of them put forth effort to work towards meeting the expectation.  There were no tears or angry words.  There were smiles, A-Ha moments, words of encouragement, and effort in the classroom today.

I was amazed and excited.  What fostered this change?  Was it the knowledge I provided them with regarding the power of a growth mindset?  Did that make the difference?  Did just hearing those words empower the students to work through their problems on their own?  Was that all I needed to do to help them?  Perhaps, or maybe they are finding their inner motivation.  Or, maybe, they just found my feedback so useful and valuable that they wanted to incorporate it into their work.  Yeah, that’s gotta be it.  Whatever the reason for today’s positive change in class, it does make me wonder, Is equipping students with the knowledge of the benefits of possessing a growth mindset, one way to help guide students towards success?


One thought on “It’s All About Mindset

  1. Joe says:

    Beautiful writing, Mark. Thanks for sharing a window into your emotions, as well as a day with your 6th grade students. I’m inspired.

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