We finally got to have our back-to-school staff meeting. I always like to start the year learning about something relevant to where we are, and what we are doing. This year our focus was on Growth Mindset. If you haven’t heard this term before, it is a positive way to approach struggle and difficulty. Seeing the world as possibility. Carol Dweck is the leading author in this area. She has spent her professional career studying how people develop a fixed or growth mindset. Here is what Dweck says about Growth Mindset,
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”
Even children as young as four years old showed a tendency toward either a fixed or growth mindset. In a research study they gave four year old children puzzles. Once the children mastered the first set they offered the children a choice of working on more complex puzzles or completing the ones they had mastered again. The ones with a growth mindset chose to learn as they struggled to complete the more challenging puzzles. One girl exclaimed, “I’m dying to figure them out!” In essence, a person with a growth mindset sees struggles and set-backs as an opportunity to learn.
We have definitely had some struggles and set-backs with this whole pandemic. Thus, the reason I felt this would be a great area for us to focus on Growth Mindset. We usually have some sort of get-to-know-each-other activity at the beginning of our meetings. This year each staff member had a flower picture on one side of a play coin. They used these to find their matching partner and then they each shared about the hardest thing they have ever gone through. Then I asked them to flip it and think about what they learned from that hard experience. “There are always two sides to every coin.”
So we then thought about what we have learned (and continue to learn) as we faced Covid-19 and all the difficulties that has come with it. The teachers quickly thought of several things:
flexibility, new technology: zoom, seesaw, google docs, etc., adaptability, faith, patience.
I mentioned that the thing I noticed through it all (regarding Aldersgate Preschool) is we continued to focus on the children; what they need, how to keep them safe, what would help them the most, etc. It was with that focus that we made decisions, changed schedules and so much more. This has been our focus for years and it continued to guide us as we faced this new struggle.
As always, I had several quotes included in the presentation. Here are a few I especially liked:
Growth mindset can apply to our intellect, our artistic abilities, our athletic abilities and our social/emotional abilities. Most people fall at various points of a spectrum with this different areas. Our staff took a little “quiz” to determine where they fit on this scale. If you are interested in knowing more about your mindset, you can link to that quiz HERE. It is also interesting to think about your beliefs regarding the different areas listed above. I’ve often heard people say, “I’m not artistic.” But, have you tried taking a class to learn how to see objects with specific lines, shadows, etc.
We also talked about the frontal lobe development of the brain. This is the area that drives our emotions (such as perseverance) and our organization skills (such as knowing the next step, thinking of a new way to do something, etc.) This frontal lobe is in the very beginning stages of developing while children are with us. It actually takes about 20 years before the frontal love is fully mature. So what does this mean as we think about the young children we teach. Teacher’s helped me think about how to finish the following statements:
Because our kids are in the baby stages of growing their frontal lobes they will:
make mistakes have meltdowns push limits be distracted constantly changing challenge the way we think
So, then, we need to:
be flexible be understanding be patient be supportive engage them know their developmental level be persistent in finding ways that
reach them remember they are doing things with a positive intent educate their parents give reminders
Megan then talked with the staff about how we go about teaching Growth Mindset ideas to our little ones. She talked about giving the children a new way of saying things:
Big Life Journal has a ton of information on their Growth Mindset blog. I would suggest you take a look HERE.
Megan said that their are many videos available that have a growth mindset theme. Sesame Street offers a good one HERE. For those of you that like Bruno Mars, this will be a fun one for you.
Megan shared how she used this book to help children realize that we all struggle doing something while others struggle with something different.
Then each teaching team took a book or resource and and had a chance to come up with their own ways to use it, or to develop a lesson plan. It was great to hear their ideas and I will look forward to seeing some of these activities used with your children this year.
We also had a devotion and prayer focusing on being able to bloom right where we are. Each year we honor a staff member (or two) that has shown grace and perserverance as she worked though a difficult time. We call this our “Dancing in the Rain Award.” Jennie Nichols, an Aldersgate Alum, died as a teenager from Osteosarcoma. We give this award in her honor.
We sort of felt like we ALL deserved this award; having gotten this far through this pandemic. I think maybe the whold world deserves this kind of award.
We did, however, select Ms. Kendra as our true recipient. Kendra has worked so hard as we have changed our programming, re-enrolled families, given refunds, managed the paper work of all this, spear-headed the effort to apply for and receive a PPP Loan and . . . . . . . All the extra challenges were met, faced and figured out. I don’t know what I would have done without Kendra here this year!
We ended with each person making their own Growth Mindset flowers. The picked a favorite quote that shows a growth mindset and then also included areas they are currently growing themselves. I loved how they all turned out – so different but also working together so well. This is fitting as this is how I believe our Aldersgate Staff are in general;