Monday, May 14, 2012

Finally clarification...

The other day I read this blog post by Dr. Scott McLeod.  It's very short...heck, I'll just copy and paste it and give him full credit for finally clarifying my struggles as an educator.  The reason behind all the nights I have laid in bed tossing and turning struggling with teaching and learning could possibly be summed up in this short blog post.

"How do you reconcile…
principles of standards-based grading; “begin with the end in mind and work backwards;” understanding by design; and other more convergent learning ideas
project-, problem-, challenge-, and/or inquiry-based learning; creativity; innovation; collaboration; and our need for more divergent thinkers?
How do (or would) you reconcile these potentially-conflicting concepts? How should schools navigate the tension between convergence and divergence?" - Dr. McLeod

I have taught for 6 years at a school for inquiry.  However, I have rarely felt that I have been encouraged to teach with a divergent mindset.  I have always wanted to, but I have always been pushed towards convergence.  Standards preach divergence, but practice convergence.  Administrators want the beauty of divergence, but coach towards convergence.  Even I long for and LOVE to see the beauty that stems from divergence, true learning, yet I am often weighted down by the restriction of convergent standards.
As a learning leader next year, how will I "reconcile these potentially-conflicting concepts" with the teachers at my school?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My reflections on "Mindset"

After hearing a lot about "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" by Carol S. Dweck and participating in an intriguing #educoach, I had to read it for myself.  I majored in psychology in college, so books like this always catch my eye.

There is no way that I can summarize the book and do it the justice that Justin Tarte did in this blog post, so I will let him do his thing.

I did want to take time to reflect on what I gained from the book, please share what you thought!

3 reflections:

#1: A little bit of growth and a lotta bit of fixed: I would call myself a person of the growth mindset, but after reading this book, I can tell that I struggle to remove myself from the fixed mindset most of the time.  Fear of failure grips me, and I'm not sure why.  My parents were always that parents that were proud of me if I did my best no matter the grade on my report card.  I preach to my students EVERY day the importance of "failing successfully".  However, many times, I won't bet if there is a possibility that I won't win.  Even writing this post makes my stomach turn to think of all the times I could have done more, pushed harder, went further, but I was scared of not making it.  As I enter into my new role as assistant principal, I am glad that I have exposed this about myself.

#2: Fixed mindsets cannot be changed externally: I need to stop trying to "fix" my fixed minded students, friends, and family members.  There is nothing I can do to change their mind.  Only they can decide to change from the fixed mindset to the growth mindset.

#3: Understanding the presence of the fixed mindset helps: I had several discussions with people that the book did not teach how to un-coach the fixed mindset out of someone.  Looking at point #2, that is probably easy to infer.  However, I did feel that after reading the book I was able to pinpoint some areas where I have a fixed mindset which will help me move toward the growth mindset in the future.  Sometimes ignorance is bliss, but not in the case of the fixed mindset.  It helped me to know that there are just some people that ain't going to budge.  To me, understanding the presence of the fixed mindset is like naming someone's personality type: you cannot change it, but you can learn how to approach it!

I encourage you to check it out!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Thinking cap

This is the hat that one of my students wore during testing today! It was her thinking cap! This hat sure did help lighten the mood!!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012


I've just redone this blog (name & purpose) in an effort to begin reflecting on the learning that will take place in the next school year as I transition from the classroom to the main office as an assistant principal.  I will also be transitioning from the beloved honeymooning stage of my 5 &1/2 year marriage with my wonderful and beautiful wife Rachel to having a beautiful little girl named Tinley Grace sometime in June.  I won't use this blog to share that learning, but I'm sure it will inevitably slide into the posts at times!

Recently I have been captivated by a simple slide that Kathy Perret (@kathyperret) posted on an #educoach chat recently.

This is very simple to follow and makes a great deal of sense.  I understand that many other things can cause frustrations and anxiety and confusion, etc, but this is a great starting point.  For change to occur (and be accepted), many things must fall into place.  Thanks for sharing Kathy!

PS: If you have any ideas for how can "snazzy" up my blog, please share!