There were moments in learning
to be a parent that I never forget. The first time I saw my child struggle to
roll over and we anxiously watched, encouraged and cheered. When he made it, we
would typically scream for joy… the first time a little too loud so that we
made him cry. The same thing happened when they took those first awkward steps.
We were so excited. Even when they took one step and fell flat on their face,
we pulled them up quickly, got them on their feet, and then hoped they took two
the next time. Usually we rued the day we taught them to walk as the next 2
years were spent following, chasing, watching like a hawk, frustrated when we
forgot about them for a minute and they pulled the flour to the floor, and
waited anxiously for the day when their brain was able to recognize that it was
fun to get into stuff and that they didn’t have to explore everything, every
time (particularly at the grocery store). I remember my children learning to
shoot a basketball. They would try and try and try. Then they would one day
finally get the ball up to the hoop and in. The joy on their faces was
priceless. When they learned how to multiply, how to drive, how to treat their
parents correctly, and a myriad of other things along the way, we understood
their difficulties, struggles and triumphs. Life and being a parent is about
trying, failing, learning and ultimately growth.
At Pleasant Valley, we have
been focusing many of our Advisory lessons on helping students and adults understand
the principles for having a growth mindset. For students to be successful in
meeting high expectations and rigorous course expectations, they must believe
they can do difficult things, that intelligence can be improved, hard work is
essential to success, failure is a learning opportunity and doesn’t define you,
persistence is necessary, endurance in tasks allows for break through learning
to occur, you must try, try and try again, one must embrace the difficult times
and be willing to struggle, maintaining a work ethic when something doesn’t
come naturally, and eliminating the fear of not being as good right now at
some-thing as one of your peers. When individuals embrace the idea that growth,
growing and becoming better are essential to learning, then real learning has
an even better shot at taking place. Too many students and adults shut down
when something is hard. Too many avoid doing difficult things because they fear
not being able to get there. Far too many believe that they cannot improve,
change or learn so why even try. It is a school thing. It is a societal thing.
We believe that everyone can improve and learning will occur, it just might
take more effort and time.
So, we are taking a few minutes
a couple times a month to specifically address developing a growth mindset. Our
hope is that every student will believe that growth and change are possible.
When faced with any challenging task in school or life, our desire is for each
person to come to that experience with a mindset that says… “I cannot do that….
Yet, but I soon will” Just another way to help our school find its greatness.
you are interested in additional information on the concept of developing a
growth mindset, I would suggest the work of Carol Dweck. Her article, “The
perils and promise of praise” was a life changer for me as a parent. Her new
book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success is exceptional and insightful.
great 10 minute video by Eduardo Briceno “The Power of belief -- mindset and
success “ from TEDxManhattanBeach can be found at