Last month I met with my students’ families during our fall parent-teacher conferences. I was encouraged by how much they wanted their children to be challenged in school. It’s the kind of thing that gives me renewed energy after 9 weeks of school. Of course I am totally taking full advantage of this support! Daily I am reminding my students that their parents want and expect them to be challenged at school. And the students? They’re encouraged by the belief their families have in them and are giving it their best efforts.
Learn vs. Do
At one point in my life I would have passionately encouraged my students that you can do anything. With time and wisdom I’ve since realized that’s just not true. I can’t play professional football in the NFL. I can’t sing in an opera at the Met – I simply don’t have that talent. But I can learn! I can improve. I can get better. That’s why I love this new video from Khan Academy called “You Can Learn Anything.” It’s less than 2 minutes in length, but packs a powerful punch. Check it out.
Learn and Grow
I showed this video to my students. I shared with them how much their families want them to be challenged. We talked about how much we, their parents and teachers, believe in them…believe that they can all learn and improve. It stems in part from Dr. Carol Dweck’s research into mindsets. In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dr. Dweck theorizes that success is based less on talent and more on our mindsets about how we learn. Individuals with a fixed mindset see success as a result of talent. They are unwilling to take risks and are inhibited by obstacles. Persons with a growth mindset, however, are stimulated by challenges and see learning as a function of making mistakes and getting better over time. You can imagine the applications this research could have on how we praise and provide feedback to our students, not to mention our own efforts in life. If you haven’t read this book already, I encourage you to take some time and read this fascinating book. Oh, and remember…you can learn anything!