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Focus On The Can Rather Than The Can't

September 21, 2017
By Jen Baham

As school wrapped up last year and the SJCS staff saw summer break on the horizon, Mrs. Thompson looked ahead to this school year. She decided to give each staff member a copy of Mindset by Carol Dweck with an invitation to read the book over the summer. Mrs. Thompson had read the book before, and knew it would affect teachers in personal and professional ways. “I want our teachers and students to focus on the can rather than the can’t. Rather that saying ‘I don’t know it’, we can say ‘I don’t know it YET.’”

Mrs. Thompson’s hopes that teachers would be on the same page about approaching setbacks and difculties are already bearing fruit. Miss Veurink commented that “Reading Mindset helped me identify my own mindset. And it has changed the verbiage I use with my students. Our “superpower word” for the year is YET. We use a ladder in my classroom to help us identify our mindset.” JK Teacher Suzie Van Ewyk shared, “When I read the book I realized that I live some areas of my life with a fixed mindset, and others with a growth mindset. I looked at the areas I approach with a growth mindset and started applying a growth mindset to other areas of my life.” Second Grade teacher Lynn Hossink discovered both personal and professional applications. “Growing up I was quiet and shy and thought success was other people validating me. Now I see that I need to challenge myself to learn and grow, and see areas that need growth as a good thing.” Dweck wrote that ‘Our best gift as educators and parents is to teach our children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy efort, seek new strategies, and keep on learning.’ It made me think about my classroom culture. When I am disciplining students, what message do I want to send: ‘I will judge and punish you?’ Or, ‘I want to help you think and learn.’

The middle school teachers decided to start our year with a middle school mixer around the topic of mindset. You can check it out on Mrs. Baham’s blog. We already see the impact of Mrs. Thompson’s leadership on growth mindset, and we look forward to the future impact this will have as we live this year together.