Just a few days ago, the doorbell rang. There stood my dad with his mixed look of insistence and pride. Stepping aside, he revealed the reason for his surprise visit. “You’re going to need this,” he said, showing me the snowblower. I looked past him to dry streets and blue skies thinking he might be over-planning. Not 18 hours later, the snow started to fall and I realized that once again he knew what I needed before I knew I needed it.
Although I’m not delivering snow removal equipment, I hope this finds you “before you knew you needed it” as you approach a much needed winter break. Without a doubt, you’ll need this time to take some deep breaths, to forget which day of the week it is, and to have at least one weekend without that Sunday night frenzy. Those “deep breaths” for me often create some space to do the slower thinking I never seem to be able to do while I’m seeing students every day. That’s what this blog is about: giving you a chance to dive into some professional learning. Whether it’s a shallow or a deep dive, hopefully you’ll find something here to help you think about one of the quandaries I always seem to be pursuing: how to make my students learners.
If you have one hour you can learn more about a growth mindset and the way it can help create new potential in your learners.
- Take the growth mindset quiz and reflect on how your tendencies impact you or your teaching.
- Or take MacArthur winner Angela Duckworth’s grit quiz and learn more about perseverance and resilience.
- Learn more about how to teach toward a growth mindset here.
And watch these Tch videos to see some growth mindset in action:
- Learn by Leading: Empower students to take ownership of their learning.
- Don’t Give Up: Plan, Persevere, Revise: Practice perseverance by tackling a multi-step geometry problem.
Maybe you have 5 hours and can dive into how to build on a growth mindset by giving students the chance to inquire, to problem-solve, to create.
- Check out the K-12 Lab Wiki and learn more about design thinking and how you can use this concept in your classroom to help students think about real-world problem solving. (Or watch this introductory video.)
- Explore The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Educator Resources page — it has lesson plans, photos, and ideas for your classroom.
- Go on (or plan) a virtual field trip with Google’s new Connected Classrooms.
And watch these Tch videos to see inquiry in action:
- Reasoning About Garden Observations: Students learn how to observe and make predictions while working with nature.
- Journaling to Master Magnets: Watch how journaling supports independent student learning during an experiment.
- Farming in the Gilded Age: See how participating in a simulation deepens students’ understanding of history.
If you have 10 hours and want to round out your learning experience with some extended reading and thinking about shifting learners to new directions, let these reads inspire you.
- For an interesting look at the importance of developing skills like perseverance, curiosity, and self-control, read How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough.
- Or if you want some brilliant insight on what it takes to get really good at something, and how to pass that on to motivate students, dig into Fires in the Mind: What Kids Can Tell Us About Motivation and Mastery or The Motivation Equation (a free ebook) both by Kathleen Cushman.
Regardless of how you find yourself thinking and learning this break, remember Parker J. Palmer’s adage that “we teach who we are” and when you give yourself a chance to learn and grow, you are teaching your students to do the same thing.
Of course, we always know that learning is more fun when we get to share it with others. So, I’m inviting you to use the comment section below to do just that: make the most out of this robust community of learners here at Teaching Channel. Please ask a question, share an “ah-ha” moment, or add a moment of affirmation to the discussion. Then look for a post-holiday blog with your compiled insights to help others discover “what they need before they knew they needed it.”
Sarah Brown Wessling is a high school English teacher in Johnston, Iowa. She is the 2010 National Teacher of the Year and is the Teacher Laureate for Teaching Channel. Connect with Sarah on Twitter – @SarahWessling.