Reflections on Learning
A Growth Mindset
When my daughter was very young, she fell from a swing and broke her arm. Well, it was mostly broken. I remember vividly the 45-degree bend in her forearm. It also became one of her earliest memories that I scooped her from the ground and in one motion called out to my wife Cheryl, carried her to the car and drove to the hospital. Doctors were kind; and, the bone was set under anesthesia. What was fascinating, though, is that the doctor came out and said it wasn’t as bad as it looked, all he had to do was bend the bone back. I would have straightened out on its own. I actually knew the biology there. Bones grow toward the stresses they encounter.
One feature of living things is that they grow and reproduce themselves. If an organism no longer wishes to grow, then the process of decay is already setting in, even if only in some aspect. Every healthy creature has the desire and tendency to grow. As human beings, however, we have more than the tendency to grow, we have the power to direct our own growth.
I grow weary of constant improvement culture simply because nothing is ever good enough. It’s not that I don’t want to improve, but I want to direct my own improvement in response to the stressors in my life and professional practice. One of the rarely discussed aspects of being a teacher is that there is never enough of you. I’m sure that’s true for parent-teachers as well. All you hear is do more of this and do more of that. If only someone could explain what to do less of! Now that would be progress!
I think our children are like that too. I think they want to grow but they want to control the direction of their growth. Of course, they’re too young to make great decisions about their growth. Many of the things they attempt actually threaten them in some way. If you watch a child play, however, they are constantly pushing at that envelope of what they can do. They love to grow. If a child does something for the first time, they will likely tell their parents.
Children should have practice making decisions. Parents should provide boundaries for those decisions. We always asked ourselves if what our children wanted to do was somehow morally or life-threatening. Often it was. But, depending on their age, there are many choices a child can make. I would encourage parents who are acting in the role of teachers to consider exercising the child’s decision-making process. Would you like to ride a bike to church or walk? Notice attending church is not an option, but whether to ride or walk is. Would you like to work at reading or writing this morning? Would you prefer swimming or gymnastics for PE? When we grow in our ability to make decisions, we can also grow in our capacity to direct our own growth, which is the very nature of adulthood.
Consider fostering in your children a growth mindset. A child becomes a learner when they develop personal interests. One of the best ways to get started is if their parents model the growth mindset for themselves. What are the stressors in your life? What would we like to achieve in the next year to relieve those stressors? How can we create milestones and recognize efforts? Parents and children can work together. Children can come to recognize what they know and need to know to meet their own goals.
Remember the power of “yet”. A growth mindset always adds the word “yet”. Has your child ever said, “I can’t do it”? A growth mindset adds the word “yet”. “I can’t do it yet”. With guidance, a child can learn to set some of their own educational goals that are visible, doable, and timely. This worksheet might be just a small start for fostering a growth mindset.
Dates and Resources
My main job during this part of the year is to review your samples and provide feedback. The more samples you send the more you get service you get from Rob. I look in SeeSaw each morning and respond to everything I see.
- SeeSaw is working well. If you're having trouble accessing it or would like extra support in SeeSaw, drop me a text or email and let me know when we can get together. Providing evidence and samples of your child's development is required in this program. That said nearly everyone does an amazing job of getting me samples through SeeSaw. Congrats to you all. If you have not posted on every subject by November 15, I'll use the phone or Zoom to get a better idea. If you'd like to schedule it now, send me an email.
- Foundation Skills Assessment for Grade 4 and 7. You will receive a package. Just to the tests as outlined in the instructions. Some people make the tests out to be more important than they are. They are a sort of intensive survey. Your individual results can vary on any given day, but they do provide parents, schools, and the Ministry of Education invaluable information for how we are doing. Please do participate. Participation can also be a learning experience for both youth and parents.
Dates and Links: November 23-- Term Ends
I am using SeeSaw and gathering information for report cards until November 23, which is the end of the term. I will begin writing report cards on November 12 based on what you have uploaded. Where there is enough data to write a report card I will alert you so that you can send in additional information. In most cases when there is a problem in the report card it is not due to lack of learning but due to a lack of communication and reporting. Please send lots of school work into SeeSaw. Some of you are sending a lot of pictures of outings and activities. These are great, but please do not send only that. I need to see what the learners are able to do. In the case of computer-based learning, pictures of the screen can be an excellent way of recording progress.
You may be interested in my recommended resources page. I only add to these resources when I see a learner has done well using it within the BC curriculum. I hope to add a few more links this year.