Growth Mindset

The Creativity Conundrum

By on September 10th, 2014

scared to make mistakes cover
When Did Students Become So Scared to Make Mistakes?

Directions: Please read the following article. At the end of the article you will be asked to give your opinion regarding creativity in schools. You will be expected to provide a response that shows thinking outside the box and is worthy of a Nobel Prize. No pressure. Think Creatively. Continue reading


Back-to-School Basics for Parents and Students

By on August 12th, 2014

back to school
Every student and parent (well most of them anyway) gets excited for the start of a new school year. Students are ready to meet their new teachers, new classmates, show off their new clothes, and start the year off on the right foot.

Parents are excited too, but for different reasons. Usually they are just thrilled to get the kids out of the house, as the summer months can seem way too long for some parents.

The following is a list of tips to help students have a successful year – and that might even remind parents of some important strategies they should be utilizing.  Continue reading


“She’s on our team?!” A Lesson from the Last Pick

By on August 1st, 2014

last pick coverAs a child, I was always the last one picked for team sports. I hated the days in gym class when we had to corral up against the chain link fence like criminals in a police ID line awaiting one of the peer captains to call our name and form teams.

It didn’t matter if we played kickball, whiffle ball, Red Rover, or dodge ball – my name was always the last one called. I couldn’t hit the ball, never made it through the human chain of people, and I wasn’t fast enough to make it to the base without being tagged. Someone from the team who got stuck with me invariably would whine, “She’s on our team?” Each time it was a bit more demoralizing than the time before. Add to my lack of natural aptitude was the fact that I never played an organized team sport outside school, so my opportunities to improve upon my lack of natural ability were non-existent.

Continue reading


You Never Know Who You’re Teaching

By on May 28th, 2014

inspirationFor the first time, my wife and I built a house from the ground up. For those who have never done it, it can be a very daunting experience. What you are doing is looking at the potential of what the house should look like instead of knowing what it actually looks like. You start off with a plan and as things arise, the plan can change. In addition to the building itself, you are also choosing the area that is best for your family. There is no guarantee that area will continue to be safe, have good schools, etc. five or 10 years down the road. Essentially, you are making a gamble to reside in a specific house in a specific area.

All of this got me thinking about how similar it is to teaching. Every student who walks into our classrooms (or who logs in for some of us) has the potential to be anyone he/she wants to be. As educators, we have the ability to make a positive impact on our students’ lives that will benefit them for years to come. Continue reading


Got Grit?

By on April 17th, 2014

grit coverBright eyed and bushy tailed I moved right from graduation to teaching geography, reading, and running a computer lab. Everyone said, your light will dim and your focus will change. Well, they were wrong.

Let the record show, that was some 10 years ago and my intentions have not changed, but have only grown stronger and more awesome.  Why? Because I “got” grit and I teach my students to have grit.

How else can I prepare my students to function in the interconnected online global world that is full of competition? By never stopping to achieve their goals – that’s how!  Do not be pushed down in the face of adversity. Remember, it is okay and even good to make mistakes; this is how we learn. Stand up for what you believe in. If you get knocked down, get up!  Life can be hard and hurtful. Learn from this and get back to work.

Continue reading


Efforts vs. Smarts

By on January 10th, 2014

efforts vs smartsIn her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dr. Carol Dweck explains the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset and how this impacts our success in learning and in life.  Dweck argues we aren’t just “born smart” or with certain abilities. We have the incredible capacity to learn and grow every day. We can actually expand our brains and intelligence with our effort.

In fact, Dweck claims that “praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success.  With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals – personal and professional.”

The underlying basis of the two mindsets, “fixed” and “growth” is illustrated in the chart below. Continue reading


The Real Win is in Losing!

By on November 19th, 2013

try againLosing is part of life.  In fact, it is one of the most valuable lessons one can learn.

We don’t get everything we want all of the time.  We can’t win every race.  Tasting defeat only allows us to savor victory and try harder the next time.  Learning how to lose teaches us how to win.

If a child knows they will automatically get a reward for showing up, what motivation is there to try?  If our students’ walls are adorned with ribbons and trophies for participation, we have done them a disservice.  We are teaching them that a promotion will be handed over on a silver platter, not earned.  Grades will be given based on attendance, not effort. Continue reading


You Can Learn the Impossible

By on September 6th, 2013

growth mindset neurons They say the first step is admitting you have a problem, so here goes… I am a brain science junky. Ever since my team started doing research 18 months ago, I’ve been fascinated with the science behind how humans learn. But it’s not just me. I’m seeing the work of Carol Dweck, Paul Tough, Sian Beilock, and Heidi Grant Halvorson show up in all sorts of non-educational publications and places. Sure, I work at a school, so it’s natural for conversations to revolve around grit and growth mindset, but last week I overheard preschool moms discussing it at the supermarket. Continue reading