Published: Jan 05, 2013 07:00 PM
Modified: Jan 05, 2013 04:40 PM
Mahatma Gandhi once proclaimed, A man is but the product of his thoughts
what he thinks, he becomes.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools operates on the principle that every child (and adult) has basic abilities that can be developed with effort and perseverance. We call it the Growth Mindset based on the work of Columbia University professor Dr. Carol Dweck.
We strive for all students to know that this community whole-heartedly believes in each of them. We have no doubt that all students can grow and attain the ability to think at higher levels. However, we cannot, and will not, simply hope that happens. We are committed to creating and sustaining a growth mindset.
So how does this mindset play out in the everyday work of our schools? Well, here are a handful of ways: Every student is considered smart.
Regardless of their preparation prior to entering school, regardless of their natural gifting, and regardless of the resources afforded to them, all students are capable of success beyond measure. Since the era of the one-room schoolhouse, teachers have wrestled with the challenge of initiating the appropriate level of work that will push each child forward while simultaneously reducing the performance range. Now, more than ever, teachers have the tools to individualize instruction to the degree that each child, no matter his point of entry, can experience a full year of growth each school year. Technological advances allow students to pursue curriculum from multiple portals and the new Common Core national curriculum brings greater depth of learning. Reward effort over giftedness.
Keeping growth as a focal point, teachers are working to create effort-based classrooms. We are working to create lessons that focus on efforts more than abilities. In fact, when a child experiences an academic victory, the teacher praise is directed to his hard work and his planning rather than strictly intelligence. When a child fails, it is never due to a lack of intelligence. Instead, it is a charge to practice more, seek additional support and implement other methods to learn and demonstrate learning. Promote grit.
Mastery-orientation refers to a childs desire to gain competence in regards to a task. Notice, it is not the childs ability to gain competence but his determination. According to Dr. Dweck, there is no correlation between a students intelligence and his ability to develop mastery-oriented qualities. Many students, considered very bright by all measures, avoid challenges and refuse to put themselves in uncomfortable situations to the extent of missing out on growth opportunities. Our teachers are working hard to ensure all students are challenged, and that sometimes means stretching children beyond their comfort zones. Of course, the real lesson in grit comes from our teachers exhibiting it in their own learning patterns. I am thankful to have a staff full of lifelong learners.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with the professional approach to teaching and learning witnessed in our Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools staff. They have been asked to incorporate significant changes in the past year, and the willingness to embrace change for the sake of our children is simply inspiring.