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While teaching in California, I had a unique teaching assignment: Honors English 9 and Reading 10. So my school day went from thinking about how to hold "high-achieving" students to a high level of challenge in an honors environment to actually doing the same thing for "underachieving" students in a remedial environment. I loved the challenge and experience of watching non-readers become successful readers, writers and speakers while also pushing the higher performing students to stretch themselves to reach greater heights.
At times though I was discouraged by the underachievement of all of my students, as well as by my colleagues' messages about them. Colleagues told me to be happy with the honors students work when I KNEW they could do better. Or to accept the Reading students sub-par efforts when I ALSO knew they could do better.
Doug Creef, a middle school science teacher, revised this reflection tool to cultivate growth mindsets in his seventh graders. This Take A Break, TAB Out! Reflection can be an effective strategy for positive behavior reinforcement. Teachers can teach students how to fill one out in a growth minded way, and then give students an opportunity to reflect quietly in a buddy classroom when a student needs a break.
A big thank you to Doug and his seventh grade team for sharing!
Mindset at Work
Click the link below to view a sample lesson from Elk Grove, CA. Have your students work together to write a class motto that helps them remember the Growth Mindset.
If you teach this lesson, consider entering your work in our 16th Growth Minded Educator Contest or email us to let us know how it goes at firstname.lastname@example.org
My co- teacher, Courtney Zaleski and I teach an inclusion 7th grade class. In order to set the stage for the year, we teach them that mistakes are not only OK, they are necessary:
Ask an adolescent how they feel about making mistakes and they will be very honest (sometimes brutally so). This year, on the first day of school, we asked our students to write down their thoughts on a post it note and compiled their responses on chart paper titled “making mistakes.” The students are then asked to stay and read their classmates’ comments. Words like “dumb,” “foolish,” “angry,” and “bad” were common responses.
No wonder so many kids don’t take academic risks. Who wants to feel like that?
As the students returned to their seats, we handed them each a personalized envelope. Inside, they found a pink eraser, a pencil with “Think Different” inscribed on it (“Think Different” is our class name), and a Maichin Welcome Back Letter. We asked them to open the envelope and read the letter silently.