In 2017, we introduced the growth mindset (and strategies to achieve this) with our junior classes. It became clear to us as teachers, that when we face challenges, receive criticism, or fare poorly compared with others, we can easily fall into insecurity or defensiveness, a response that inhibits growth. If we are susceptible to it, children are more so. Australia isn’t a place with a strong dance culture, so we noticed students can often come to us thinking “I can’t dance”, or “I’m not a good dancer, I’m never going to be a good dancer” and knew we needed to take steps towards changing this.
The nature of learning is that with enough practice, we can achieve anything. Even when it’s just not clicking, it means you’re just on the precipice of awareness! Don’t. Give. Up. Failure is one step in a creative process. Don’t be afraid of failing spectacularly. Growth isn’t meant to be easy, or comfortable. Growth can be tough! We take 2 steps forward and 1 step back – but don’t let that 1 step backwards keep your paralysed! It’s not just about rising up from failures, but rising strong again, and again.
As teachers, we fight our own demons of perfection also. Perfectionism, fear of failure, fear of success – all of it can inhibit our creativity and stunt our growth. We find ourselves paralysed in comparison, and feel like giving up because we’ll never be as good as ‘so and so’. Comparison takes some of the facts, and loudly, brashly presents them as the full story. It undermines our hard work, and it usually undermines the hard work of the comparee! It is highly likely that they didn’t become an expert without guidance, practice, and SWEAT. Working towards growth is our shared journey, and true happiness can only come through focusing on our own journey, acknowledging the steps we’ve taken, and not slipping into that nasty hole of comparison. Transitioning towards the growth mindset has been incredibly positive for us all. We acknowledge our own mistakes to the children, giving them positive role models of leaders who aren’t perfect, aren’t omnipotent, and who do make mistakes!
Over the past year, we have noticed incredible changes in how the children process and respond to feedback; their awareness and understanding of growth; and their self-discipline. We are incredibly proud of them all. In order to acknowledge exceptional growth at the end of 2017, we created an award to be given at our concert. The children were told in Term 3 that this award existed, and we discussed what it would be like if they didn’t receive it – what that means, how it does not mean that they did not grow.
We are incredibly proud of progress we have seen over the past year in all our students, so we have decided instead of end of year report cards, we will do our best to acknowledge their growth directly to them, in a personal end of year letter.