3 Ways to Foster a Growth Mindset with School Staff

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.” —Benjamin Franklin
What is a growth mindset and why does it matter? In recent years, the mindset field has changed the way schools operate. Through her research at Stanford University, Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology Carol Dweck has observed that the mindset you choose can have a profound impact on how you live your life.

Individuals can be placed on a continuum based on their mindsets, according to Dweck. Those who believe their abilities are based on innate talents—and therefore can’t change much—have a fixed mindset. Those who believe that success is based on effort are said to have a growth mindset. They believe that with hard work, you can always improve. One definition I like is that a fixed mindset focuses on proving how smart you are; a growth mindset focuses on improving.
Ultimately, leveraging a growth mindset offers you and your staff significant opp…

Being Intentional about Self-Care

Hey Coach,
Teaching is a high-stress career - especially these days! Do you have any tips to help teachers take care of themselves?

Seeking Self-Care
Dear Seeking Self-Care,

The data agrees with you. Teaching is definitely demanding! In fact, the 2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey study shared some startling findings:
61% of educators and school staff say their work is “always” or “often” stressful.78% of teachers run on just five to seven hours of sleep per night.58% said their mental health was “not good” for seven or more of the previous 30 days. ...and that’s all before we were in the midst of a pandemic!

We need to view self-care as more than just another item on our long list of to dos. In order to survive and thrive as an educator, you have to invest in what matters most, remembering that YOU are important! Below we offer some suggestions to help you be intentional about prioritizing self-care.

Set Boundaries Setting boundaries is the first step to prioritizing se…

Engaging Students in an Online Environment

Hey Coach,
Teaching online can be tough! How can I keep my students engaged in an online environment?

Eager for Engagement

Dear Eager for Engagement,

It’s true! Teaching feels very different without the live, face-to-face interaction found in the traditional classroom. Don’t worry, though! We can still engage our students, even when teaching and learning happens remotely. Many of the best practices we use to engage students in a traditional classroom can translate to an online environment.
Bring a Human Element to the Online Environment People need other people! Give students plenty of opportunities to engage with each other by sharing their opinions, experiences, and perspectives. (We highly recommend Flipgrid as a quick and easy tool to engage and empower all the voices in your classroom!) Interact with your students through individual check-ins to let them know that their presence matters. Be silly and fun whenever possible. Whether you’re changing your background during vi…

Changing Course to Remote Learning

Three weeks ago, who could have guessed we’d be here? Everyone is in the same boat. I had plans to be preparing a baseball team for the state playoff push… It’s a different world. It’s overwhelming, we have to acknowledge that. My strategies tend to come down to lists of steps that I can check off, so here is a six-step protocol to working your way to online teaching: Don’t get overwhelmed: I know, easier said than done, and there are so many tools out there. You are experienced, and you have a peer or two who is experienced. Rely on the tools that you are already comfortably and confidently using to disseminate information. This isn’t the best time to learn the newest, it’s a time to perfect the known-est.

Utilize the online management system that your school or district embraces: This stems from Step 1. You’ve been using something to stay in touch with kids at home all year, keep it up. Even if it starts with Remind, that’s a fantastic way to guide students through your class. This is…

Connecting Maker Ed to Classroom Content

Hey Coach,

I’ve heard that Maker Ed is a great way for kids to develop creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration skills. How can I incorporate making into my classroom with what I’m already doing instead of as something extra?

Sincerely, Maker Curious Dear Maker Curious,

You’re right! Maker Ed is definitely a great way for kids of all ages to develop creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration skills. Many teachers want to integrate making into the content kids are already learning, but don’t know where to start or how to secure the resources they need. I hope this post helps you and others discover some ways to start small and take off on your Maker Ed journey.
Make Writing Angela Stockman, author of Make Writing: 5 Teaching Strategies That Turn Writer’s Workshop Into a Maker Space and Hacking the Writing Workshop: Redesign with Making in Mind, encourages teachers to use making to motivate, engage, and inspire student writers. She suggests starting a writing workshop with a …

The Benefits of Breakout Education

Hey Coach, 
I’ve heard so much about breakout education, but I have never used a breakout game in the classroom. How can they benefit my students?

Inquiring Mind

Dear Inquiring Mind,

It’s so awesome to hear that you are interested in breakout education! This is one of my favorite classroom strategies and is loved by students of all ages!

First, a little background information for those who are not yet familiar with breakout games in the classroom: Breakout games require students to work together to solve a series of clues and challenges before a time limit expires. These games can be played with physical containers that must be unlocked (available for purchase from BreakoutEDU), or they can be digital breakouts that are played on any device that connects to the Internet (Check out some ready-made digital breakouts on Tom’s Digital Breakouts or in the BreakoutEDU Digital Sandbox… or, create your own!)

In Gamification in Education: What How, Why Bother? (Lee & Hammer, 2011), we…

Three Critical Mind Shifts for Successful Student Conferencing

Hey Coach,

I’ve been reading a lot about the power of individual student conferencing. This is a strategy I want to use in my classroom, but I’m feeling a major time crunch! How can I find the time to conference with every student?

Out of Time Teacher

Dear Out of Time Teacher,
Good for you! It sounds like you recognize the importance of individual student conferencing. When it comes to building relationships with students and collecting specific information about their progress, nothing beats a 1:1 conference.
Not only that, but student conferencing is an integral part of the dynamic communication that takes place within a personalized learning environment. As Stephanee Stephens and Anisa Lokey-Vega explain in the white paper, A Vision for Personalized Learning, these conferences offer important opportunities for learners to voice their needs, preferences, and interests to plan and drive their education.

Yet, teachers are often hesitant to implement classroom conferencing. With…