From the desk of...

Yet…

My new favourite word. Three letters, but strong enough to hold the darkest thoughts and feelings back long enough to give a little bit of time to regroup…

  
  
We’ve all been there: a place where frustration or discouragement keeps us from seeing clearly the potential on the other side of a temporary setback.  As adults we (hopefully) have the tools to deal with the emotion and to motivate the action needed to get past that place. As teachers and parents we have the responsibility to model and support children who haven’t (yet) developed those tools for themselves…

  
  
Regularly, in the resource room, I work with children who have been unsuccessful in much of their short lives so far. Often their default phrase is “I don’t get it.” This is my least favourite phrase, and has been jailed in my classroom for many years. I have asked children to replace it with “I need help” or “I don’t understand”, but that was all before I discovered yet.  

  
  
When visiting another school recently I joyfully came across some fantastic “anchor phrases” in an eighth grade science room… The classroom teacher was surprised I didn’t recognize them – they are inspired by Carol Dweck’s “growth mindset” – based on her 2006 book. (I was having Miss G. In 2006  – quite a few things snuck by me that year…) 

This post is for Miss G. She is talented at many things, but not so much at accepting her own (even temporary) limitations. Of course, she’s 9.  When she’s having “one of those” moments I get her to scroll through the pictures and read them out loud – it’s cheesy, and she laughs, but it works. There’s hope for us yet…

  
    
    
    
    
  

I have looked at these pictures over and over again since taking them, and have shared them with friends, colleagues and students alike. The magic word is yet. There isn’t a phrase I can think of that doesn’t improve with the addition of those three letters. 

Today’s bonus: this rubric of assessment language posted in the same room:

 

I had the fortune of hanging out with some students who belonged to this actual classroom – they explained this rubric (in their own words!) for me, emphasizing their understanding of each stage of learning, and how important the growth continuum was.  Each phase, just like in life, was essential before moving on to the next.  We are not born ready to be extending learners. Many of us will spend a great deal of time in the acquiring phase. There is great satisfaction in developing and refining our learning, and in circling back to another round of acquiring… If we are learning we are living and changing and successful – we’re not done yet

  
I can’t help but connect these ideas to some speakers I heard at the FISA conference earlier this month – one on the inspiration for change (learning?):

“How can we make small changes toward bigger change? Attunement: understand perspective and find common ground. Buoyancy: face rejection, setbacks and failures. Clarity: curate information, develop expertise, find and identify problems. Tapping into feelings of why we do what we do increases our effective connection to tasks.” (Daniel Pink)

…another on the diversity required to create a world changing around us:

“Producing only one type of people reduces talent diversity. We need people on the fringes. We are differently talented and differently motivated – this is the beginning of passion. Doing things we are interested in makes us intrinsically motivated and gives us energy. Desire creates opportunity for creativity – human diversity becomes valuable. Successful schools value creativity, entrepreneurship, unique talents, autonomy, voice, exploration. Develop the discipline to sustain creativity and discover strengths. Learning from and for other people creates authentic products.” (Yong Zhao)

…and lastly:

“We have to be hopeful to help humanity adapt to its challenges.” (Charles Fadel)

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