"When you make a mistake it means nothing more than that. Fix it. Learn from it. It does not mean you are incompetent, stupid, or not a good person."Or, in this case, not a good blogger. I have been lurking in #cyberpd. I've been reading and commenting on blogs, checking in on wall wisher, but not posting. I intended to be a full member posting and reading, but the calendar was always ahead of me! While reading Cathy's latest #cyberpd post I saw an opportunity to "fix it." Carol of Carol's Corner will be hosting a concluding event on August 1!
What We Say Matters
"Her words change the life in the classroom. They change the worlds the children will inhabit, and consequently who they can be, what they will feel, what they can know, and what will be normal behavior. "
I have always loved language and the power of words, but when I think of the impact my words have on our children, it is truly humbling. Our children are the world we will live in tomorrow. I want them to possess the confidence and ingenuity to move our world forward, to be contributing members of a global society and have the leadership skills to guide and teach the next generation. To think my every word helps or hinders these goals is frightening.
Peter Johnston offers a plethora of word choices, all with the goal of instilling a dynamic learning frame, which will allow our children to be the global citizens capable of moving learning and the world forward. Julie Balen has created a google.doc of language to support educators as they work with children. Thank you Julie I plan to revisit this page often.
Dynamic Performance Frame v's Fixed Performance Frame
" Children who adopt a fixed-performance frame tend to become helpless when they run into trouble. They cease being strategic - except when it comes to ego-defense. Taking up the fixed-performance narrative affects the way we experience the world and ourselves. When we encounter difficulty, we attribute it to our permanent characteristics."
"Children in a dynamic-learning frame actually use deeper processing when reading difficult material and they become more rather than less strategic when they encounter difficulty."
To be active members and leaders of our global community our students will need dynamic learners. This frame of learning will allow children to embrace challenges, implement strategies, and learn from the experience. Children with this open mindset do not measure themselves by their challenges, they learn from them.
I have encountered kids in my class, and maybe even one or two in my own home, that feel they should already know what is being taught. This fixed mindset can be crippling to their progress, or at least make learning less interesting.
Johnston reminds us to consider how we offer praise to our students. Our praise should reflect the effort and work not the ability of the student. Again I will be referring to the google language doc for support here. He also reminds us to consider how we present challenges to our students. Challenges should be introduced as interesting not as a contest of a challenge. Lastly, Johnston reminds us to explicitly teach how the brain works and how learning can actually grow new cells to develop a dynamic learning frame.
"Since learning is fundamentally social, basing a classroom on dynamic learning principles offers a double boost to learning."
This quote really struck home with me. I have used a clip system to help monitor and shape behavior for years. Last year I chose not to implement the system for many reasons~
- Former students would return and ask "Did anyone get on (insert color here) today?
- Parents would ask questions about clip color before, or instead, of asking about learning.
- Students were making choices only to avoid moving clips.
- I began to notice the clips were only effective for about 2-4 students.
- Students that were responsible for making choices that support a learning community were rarely recognized.
If I said the year went seamlessly without clips I would not be honest. There were days that I wished I had clips, days I was sure a clip move would correct a behavior quickly. As I continued to work through the 'no clip community' I began to hear my language change, I became more explicit. I began to notice I was understanding more. I observed more. I was becoming more aware of the "why" behind the behavior. I began to understand how to teach the behavior of a learning community. I noticed my understanding of all children deepened.The motivation behind their choice was not malicious, it was not intended to disrupt learning. Rather it was out of curiosity (How do you make that bunny in the projector light? I wonder if Sally will play with me at recess?) or a result of a misunderstanding ("I had those math tools and Sally took them! [Sally thought they were for everyone to share.])
"When faced with transgressions, people holding dynamic theories try to understand the thinking and the context of the transgression, to educate and forgive the transgressor."
I learned to see the behavior from the perspective of a younger mind. This new perspective made all the difference in my teaching. It was clear that it was my responsibility to teach what it means to be a member of a learning culture. Teaching requires an understanding of the child's perspective and their reasoning. This teaching will allow the child to internalize the learning and make a choice based on the learning and the consequence of their choice. This gives the student agency. I am embarrassed to admit that it wasn't until I put the clips away that I realized teaching behavior is just like teaching academic skills and strategies. I also began to see the clips were a crutch for me. The clips allowed me to
extinguish temporarily stop a behavior, again and again and…
As I flip through Openning Minds I find many more points I want to reflect on here in the blog, but I also know that many of you have stopped reading. This is already to long for a single post. I want to say, maybe I will continue to reflect in a later post, but we all know what happens when we set ourselves up like this.