I recently lead a Twitter chat on Growth Mindset. Until recently, I had not thought much about it. So what started this interest for me? I have begun to notice more and more as other instructional technology coaches from around the country talk about their districts, schools, and teachers that they were mentioning something that I really feel like I don’t see a lot of in my own district: Teachers wanting to grow.
Now “grow” is a pretty broad term, so let me explain more specifically what I am talking about. When I think of growth mindset in my own school district, with my own teachers, I think of those teachers who are always evaluating what they are doing, seeking new ideas, trying new sources of information. These are all things that I see in my district but not nearly as much as I should.
Reflection: When you ask teachers about reflection, many times they think of journaling. There is nothing wrong with that and it is a great way to reflect. What we have begun talking about is other kinds of reflections and what should we be reflecting on? Sometimes it can be getting feedback from students, other teachers or either admin after a lesson. Evaluating data that you have gathered and think about what direction you need to change or head in based on what you are seeing. As an instructional technology coach, I continually talk with my PLN for ideas and feedback. I also get feedback from my teachers after PD courses and sessions. Another thing I look at is the number of teachers participating in the optional things we offer. I am trying to constantly evaluate how many are doing courses and are they participating. If not, why not? I think in any role, in any field, to grow you must reflect. The problem we run into is that many of our teachers are not reflecting. They give a test, put the grade in and move on. Why not look at the data? Did I teach it well, was the test a well-written test, are there specific students struggling, etc..? I could go on and on and this is just talking about tests. We should be reflecting on everything occurring in our classrooms/schools.
New Ideas: I do not believe that we constantly need to change everything we are doing. Something doesn’t have to be new, to be good, but the opposite is true as well. Just because it was good 3 years ago, does not necessarily mean it is good today. As an instructional technology coach I am always trying to balance the two. I am a firm believer in blended learning, I think we need some traditional as well as some new more innovative techniques. I will also add that technology does not make a teacher good, it only enhances what is already there. My struggle in this position that I have so many that wont look at anything new. They get overwhelmed and immediately fall back on the same old “I don’t have time” excuse. For example when we first went 1:1 we also adopted Schoology. I explained time and time again, yes it make take a little more time on the front end, but oh the time you will save on the back end. It took some of my teachers up to 3 years to believe me and it was actually watching their peers that convinced them. I had a teacher look at me and say “I am so tired of grading spelling test and Mrs. Smith never has to anymore, please help me”. Schoology was a new idea and the teachers who immediately embraced it never looked back. Over the years I have learned to dole out new tools in very small doses. Our mantra is “one tool at a time”. Master one new thing and use it a while and then look at something new. New isn’t always saying that old is bad.
New Sources of Information: For many of my teachers the only new information they get is from me or the random spam email they recieve. I even had one teacher tell me she gets all of her ideas from teachers pay teachers. My problem with that is that TPT is like a store, you may get good ideas and resources but it should not be your source of new information. I have a gamified course for PD and many of our challenges I have the teachers look to new places for information. One of those places is Twitter. We did a five tweet challenge where I asked questions and they responded using twitter. The perfect example happened - I had a teacher tweet out that her favorite review tool was Kahoot and someone commented that they Kahoot, but had she tried Quizizz. She was was excited to get the new idea. Now even though we have presented on it before it didn’t resonate with her until twitter. I also have teachers joining teacher FB groups. I am starting to questions about podcasts, tools and so much more. This is very exciting to me. I love for them to reach out beyond their tribe and find new ideas. I just want my teachers to realize there are so many awesome places to get ideas and help. It doesn’t always have to be in district PD or conferences.
As we start planning for next year, we have decided that growth mindset will be our focus next year. Watch out teachers there is a whole new world out there you are about to explore.