Dare to Care

create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

10/Aug/2017
by Denise Krebs
2 Comments

Shift This Book Review

Thanks to Joy Kirr for a book that outlines her growth as a teacher over the last six years. I was privileged to meet her on Twitter in 2012. I have learned a lot about her shifts in education through her blog and on Twitter–with her more than 80,000 positive, affirming, and equipping tweets.

However, now there is something even better. She has invited me into both her classroom and her mind for the rich details. How does this look? How can I shift the classroom environment in my own situation? She wrote a book on it, called Shift This, published by Dave Burgess Consulting.

Currently reading and loving: #ShiftThis by @joykirr1 #cy365 #t365project #jjaproject

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For those who need more specifics on how to create a student-centered classroom environment, this is the easy-to-read, must-read book for you.

Joy begins the book with the beginnings of her journey and a challenging chapter about WHY and HOW questions to ask of your classroom practice. The book continues with chapters on these timely topics:

  • Classroom Environment
  • Classwork
  • Homework
  • Grading
  • Social Media
  • Student-Directed Learning

Finally, Joy ends the book with a chapter called “Resistance.” The opening story, a discussion with a parent asking about homework, is so compelling! It makes me know she has real-life experience with resistance.

Each chapter ends with a Reflection and Call to Action for the reader to write notes about their next steps. In addition, there is a further reading list provided for each chapter.

Joy is so personable and kind. She will always give teachers the benefit of the doubt. If you don’t want to give up your teacher desk, that’s fine, she’ll tell you. “You have to do what works for you…Furniture and walls really aren’t the key to a transformative culture in our classrooms. The key is how we treat students” (Shift This, page 42).

She will always be patient with and give respect to teachers, but when the students’ best interests are in jeopardy, she makes it clear to you. She will always come up on the side of the students. She will influence us, in her kind, personable manner to shift our practice to be more student-centered and student-empowering.

Like Joy, I’ve had more than 20 years teaching experience. I try to be like Joy in another way: Even with her many years of experience, Joy always has something new to learn. In Shift This, Joy consistently models her love for and need for her own personal learning. One thing that spoke to me poignantly was this quote I discovered on her classroom website, which she had linked to in the book. On this Scholars in Room 239 post, I love how she sought advice from parents:

Please help me grow as an educator. Although this is my 22nd year as a teacher, I know I can always do a better job, and I’ve already asked for your child’s feedback. I’d also love your honest feedback.

She’s left a link to an anonymous survey for all the parents of her students. Brava, Joy! You are inspiring us to all be more humble and thriving as educators!

Here are just a few things I’ve gleaned from Shift This for this new school year, which will start in a few weeks. I want to just list them here to help me remember and so I can hold myself accountable:

  1. Choices of material, length, level and more in independent reading. We’ll take a challenge of how many books to read, rather than the traditional one every two weeks. Students will share their “book reports” in informal book talks with peers and other ways to share books they loved.
  2. My teacher desk will become a modified student station, as it was last year. I’m trying to take it to another level, though. Still a work in progress.
  3. Organize my student web page so there are no questions about what we did in class and what is expected of students. Right now, there are still too many unanswered questions on our Grade 5 News page. My excuse: I was new in grade 5 last year. I can’t make that excuse any longer.
  4. Homework each day will be reading an English book for at least 20 minutes. This will be more intentional and monitored than last year. Last year I gave very little homework, and there was little to no resistance from parents and students. I think it is a good decision.
  5. Grading is developing in my school, too. Another work in progress that I will continue to push for and develop is standards-based grading, collecting evidence of mastery.
  6. I will choose a volunteer photographer for each week rather than trying to do it daily as in the past, which didn’t work so well.

Shift This is the kind of book you can read over and over. As you make shifts in your classroom this year, you will see the benefits. Then next summer you will read the book again and see ideas that last summer seemed out of reach. But next fall…you will be ready. (So be sure to date the entries on the Reflection and Call to Action sections. You’ll be back.) On this journey as the chief learner, each fall you will be able to make your classroom a more safe, student-centered, joy-filled, learning-owned-by-students environment.

You can bet, I will return to this book again. For the sake of my students.

04/Aug/2015
by Denise Krebs
Comments Off on Mindset for Learning and Growing

Mindset for Learning and Growing

In one world, effort is a bad thing. It, like failure, means you’re not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn’t need effort. In the other world, effort is what makes you smart or talented. You have a choice. Mindsets are just beliefs. They’re powerful beliefs, but they’re just something in your mind, and you can change your mind.

Carol Dweck, Mindset, Loc 317 in Kindle.

I want to change my mindset in every area of my life! As I read Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: A New Psychology of Success, I thought of the times and areas in life that I have had a growth mindset (computers, reading and writing), and I also think of many when I have had a fixed mindset (sports, music, and learning languages).

My belief in all children’s ability to grow and learn has developed over the years. Thank God. I am saddened by some memories I have of my first years of teaching. I know I reinforced fixed mindsets in children. Even today, I still make mistakes. Carol’s book will help me, especially connecting and believing in those children who don’t believe in themselves.

I look forward to discussing Mindset with other #geniushour teachers on Thursday, 6 August, at 6 pm Pacific Time/9 pm Eastern. (Or for those in Arabia Standard Time, 4:00 a.m. on Friday.) Join us if you want to learn more about fixed and growth mindsets.

I’ve gathered below some quotes from the book on each of the two mindsets. I could have gone on and on–so many good thoughts–but I wanted to put these here as a reminder of the ideas, descriptions and vocabulary that I will need to practice, learn and teach. My goal for the coming school year is to practice and teach the growth mindset. (That’s my one sentence for this summer, Joy.)  (The Kindle location number is given for each.)

Fixed Mindset

  Growth Mindset

Fixed mindset—creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character—well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics. Loc 158

…one consuming goal—look smart, don’t look dumb. Who cared about or enjoyed learning when our whole being was at stake every time she gave us a test or called on us in class? Loc 164

…labeling themselves and throwing up their hands Loc 219

…risk and effort are two things that might reveal your inadequacies and show that you were not up to the task. Loc 227

…your qualities are carved in stone Loc 238

…a fixed ability that needs to be proven Loc 310

…fixed traits—success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Loc 313

Validating yourself. Loc 313

…children with the fixed mindset want to make sure they succeed. Smart people should always succeed. Loc 335

…fixed mindset didn’t want to expose their deficiencies…to feel smart in the short run, they were willing to put their college careers at risk. Loc 352

…fixed mindset makes people into nonlearners. Loc 353

It’s about being perfect right now. Loc 459

The fixed mindset does not allow people the luxury of becoming. They have to already be. Loc 481

…failure has been transformed from an action (I failed) to an identity (I am a failure). Loc 599

But those with the fixed mindset said they would study less for the next test. If you don’t have the ability, why waste your time? And, they said, they would seriously consider cheating! Loc 648

…instead of trying to learn from and repair their failures, people with the fixed mindset may simply try to repair their self-esteem. Loc 650

But students in the fixed mindset chose to look at the tests of people who had done really poorly. That was their way of feeling better about themselves. Loc 652

People with the fixed mindset tell us, “If you have to work at something, you must not be good at it.” They add, “Things come easily to people who are true geniuses.” Loc 725

The idea of trying and still failing—of leaving yourself without excuses—is the worst fear within the fixed mindset, and it haunted and paralyzed her. Loc 764

…that success is about being more gifted than others, that failure does measure you, and that effort is for those who can’t make it on talent. Loc 799

In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or if you’re not the best—it’s all been wasted. Loc 865

…the natural does not analyze his deficiencies and coach or practice them away. The very idea of deficiencies is terrifying. Loc 1402

…key weapons of the fixed mindset—blame, excuses, and the stifling of critics and rivals. Loc 1948

You have permanent traits and I’m judging them. Loc 2928

We don’t care about who you are, what you’re interested in, and what you can become. We don’t care about learning. We will love and respect you only if you go to Harvard. Loc 3210

When teachers are judging them, students will sabotage the teacher by not trying. Loc 3417

Fixed-minded teachers often think of themselves as finished products. Their role is simply to impart their knowledge. Loc 3424

You have permanent traits and I’m judging them Loc 3596

Remember that praising children’s intelligence or talent, tempting as it is, sends a fixed-mindset message. Loc 3598

The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives. Loc 181

…your qualities can be cultivated Loc 239

…exceptional individuals have “a special talent for identifying their own strengths and weaknesses.” Loc 259

…a special talent for converting life’s setbacks into future successes. Loc 262

…creative achievement…perseverance and resilience. Loc 263

…a changeable ability that can be developed through learning Loc 310

…changing qualities—it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Loc 314

Developing yourself. Loc 314

They walk, they fall, they get up. They just barge forward. Loc 326

But for children with the growth mindset, success is about stretching themselves. It’s about becoming smarter. Loc 335

…growth mindset seized the chance. Loc 352

“I never stopped trying to be qualified for the job.” Loc 392

“This is hard. This is fun.” Loc 451

“[When] I work on something a long time and I start to figure it out.” Loc 461

“Becoming is better than being.” Loc 481

People with the growth mindset know that it takes time for potential to flower. Loc 523

A single point in time does not show trends, improvement, lack of effort, or mathematical ability.… Loc 532

Those in the growth mindset looked at the tests of people who had done far better than they had. As usual, they wanted to correct their deficiency. Loc 652

John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, says you aren’t a failure until you start to blame. What he means is that you can still be in the process of learning from your mistakes until you deny them. Loc 666

When people believe their basic qualities can be developed, failures may still hurt, but failures don’t define them. And if abilities can be expanded—if change and growth are possible—then there are still many paths to success. Loc 710

The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome. Loc 866

…even when you think you’re not good at something, you can still plunge into it wholeheartedly and stick to it. Actually, sometimes you plunge into something because you’re not good at it. Loc 936

“Come on, peach,” [Marva Collins] said to him, cupping his face in her hands, “we have work to do. You can’t just sit in a seat and grow smart.… I promise, you are going to do, and you are going to produce. I am not going to let you fail.” Loc 1151

Create an organization that prizes the development of ability—and watch the leaders emerge. Loc 2420

“I liked the effort you put in, but let’s work together some more and figure out what it is you don’t understand.” “We all have different learning curves. It may take more time for you to catch on to this and be comfortable with this material, but if you keep at it like this you will.” “Everyone learns in a different way. Let’s keep trying to find the way that works for you.” Loc 3012

Don’t judge. Teach. It’s a learning process. Loc 3160

But when students understand that school is for them—a way for them to grow their minds—they do not insist on sabotaging themselves. Loc 3417

Above all, a good teacher is one who continues to learn along with the students. Loc 3431

You’re a developing person and I’m interested in your development Loc 3597

…try to focus on the processes they used—their strategies, effort, or choices. Loc 3599

…try to figure out what they don’t understand and what learning strategies they don’t have. Remember that great teachers believe in the growth of talent and intellect, and are fascinated by the process of learning. Loc 3608

…our mission is developing people’s potential. Loc 3614

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Do You Feel Smart:
When You’re Flawless or When You’re Learning?

~Carol Dweck, Loc 452

Two Articles to Read to Help Avoid a Common Mindset Pitfall

Trying my hand at an art sketchbook. #edsketch

12/Jul/2015
by Denise Krebs
8 Comments

What is the Purpose of School?

Recently Oliver Schinkten asked the question, What is the purpose of school? (Read more provocative questions at #QinEd)

My first thought was that was a very big question. I believe the purpose of school is to save our democracy. It’s a frightening thought to consider what America, and other countries, would be like without school. I believe in public education, even with all its problems that will be fixed. I believe our country needs school in order to save itself.

On a more down-to-earth level of school purpose, I liked the idea of communication Joy Kirr shared in this blog post when she answered Oliver’s question.

Certainly communication is the paramount goal of English language learner instruction. I am teaching in a bilingual school in the Kingdom of Bahrain; this year I’m moving up to second grade after 1.5 years in kindergarten. On a day-to-day basis, my goal is much like Joy’s, to use the English language in all its facets to communicate with my English language learners. In addition, I want them to grow in their ability to communicate in English, as well as their native Arabic.

I teach them about what research says about their growing brains when they are learning multiple languages. (Some of them actually speak three or four languages.) I teach them about how they get smarter when they have to struggle to learn something. (SIDEBAR: Join us on 6 August 2015 as we discuss more about using #mindset in the classroom.)

Of course, the reason for all of my teaching is a bigger life lesson.  My purpose is for them to be not only lifelong learners, but creative innovators, collaborators, and confident world-improvers.  What could be a better gift for today’s world than these bilingual innovators from Bahrain using what they’ve learned to make the world a better place? That’s my ultimate purpose in teaching English to second graders.

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