Sunday, September 22, 2013

State of mind for the new school year

Starting a new job this year has given me a great opportunity to really think through my state of mind for the new school year.  By state of mind, I mean mentality, self talk, mindset, the way we mentally prepare ourselves to handle what comes our way.
After being an ELL teacher for five years, this is my first year as a technology integration specialist, and I decided to go into the year with an open mind (I know for a fact there are many ways to reach a desired outcome), humility (I know I’ll have a lot to learn on the job), and a ‘no fear’ state of mind (Take a risk -- go big, or go home, right?).

I have found that the three mentalities are really interrelated – Starting with being open to hearing about new ideas, then on to being ready to take a risk to try them out, and ending with being humble, yet reflective when/if they don’t work out as planned…or if they work out better than planned!   

I’ve already had several opportunities to try out my new state of mind.  One such opportunity involved collaborating with our school’s library media specialist on talking with the 6th graders about our responsible use policy and what it means to be good digital citizens.  The LMS and I openly discussed our ideas and came up with a project that gave our students a chance to create a public service announcement to share our responsible use policy with other students and staff at our school (using Google Slides or Glogster).  We were both open to each other’s ideas, and were excited to take a risk and put our ideas into practice with the 6th grade classes.  After teaching the first section of 6th grade, we had a few minutes to talk through how things went, and we realized there just wasn’t enough time to teach both Google Slides and Glogster, so we decided to focus on Google Slides for the other sections.  (This required some humility on my part, because I had really hoped to use Glogster.)  The next sections went well, although we still wished we had had more time with each class.  We met together after teaching all of the sections to reflect and revise our plan for next time.  It was a great experience, and was made even better by the fact that both of us were open minded, took risks and were humble and reflective about the experience.
This experience also got me thinking about our students’ state of mind.  What is their mentality when they come to school?  What do they tell themselves when they encounter a problem or new situation?  

After reading Mindset by Dweck and Habits of Mind Across theCurriculum by Costa and Kallick, I think state of mind and the skills that enable us to possess various states of mind are things we need to explicitly teach our students.  Students need to know that hard work, a growth mindset, persistence, inquiry, collaboration, and a sense of humor (among others) are critical skills to develop for school and beyond.  These skills are especially useful when students and teachers are working with technology – sometimes technology works well and sometimes it doesn’t work at all (can we add patience to the state-of-mind list?).

As the school year unfolds, I will continue to focus on being open-mind, humble, and a risk-taker in my new position.  I will also model and discuss these skills, as well as other habits of mind, with my students, with the hope that they will begin to adopt and adapt these skills into their own state of mind for this school year.
How about you?  What is your state of mind for this school year?  What are you focusing on?  How do you teach these skills to your students?  Post your ideas in the comments below, or contact me on Twitter @wilsandrea.