Earlier this week I had a mini-mental tantrum to do with my struggles teaching robotics. I pride myself on having a Growth Mindset but it absolutely disappeared on me as I thought “that’s it, next term I’m moving back to teaching the stuff that I know really well and that is my passion, not theirs (the students).” But after letting my tantrum go I was able to reflect and move forward with teaching robotics in a more effective way.
This whole episode (and how quickly it happened) reminded of a visual metaphor (I think that’s the right thing – I may be about to be slayed by the English teachers out there!) I thought of a couple of weeks ago when having a critical friend talk with Maurie.
It involves a continuum from Fixed to Growth Mindset:
For most of us as teachers (or possibly in any situation) we can try new things at times but our mental models trained by years of practice draw us back to what we know. In effect it is like we have an anchor at the fixed mindset end of the spectrum. There is a bungy cord attached which allows us to stretch out towards new ideas every now and then. At times we can hold the strain and stay out there testing new ideas etc. but when the pressure comes on we are drawn (or flung) back to our safe zone.
What I am experiencing at Hobsonville Point Secondary School right now is that I have effectively been able to pick up that anchor and attach it to the Growth end of the continuum. The structures in place are supporting us as teachers to push out of our comfort zones, trial new approaches and drastically change our mental models. The open learning spaces help in that your teaching is in the open and seen by anyone walking past but it is also the critical friend relationships and the amazing PD we are exposed to every week. These make it normal for us to be in an uncomfortable state and by sharing it with each other (in fact we even have a shared goal across all staff to operate with Growth Mindsets this term) we can support each other in a Warm and Demanding fashion.
Absolutely we still have times of stress as there are in all schools (change is hard after all and we still have reports etc. that like to bring stress in like Dementors from Harry Potter) but by shifting the anchor point to Growth we ensure that these become short-lived episodes and we see the point of the uncomfortable in that what we are doing will help our learners.