Our principal gave us homework. Yup, the teachers have homework. In her defense, she gave us lots of options around when we could complete the homework. She is letting us use our Data Block and even offered to get us class coverage to get the chapter read. That seems a little sad...that teachers would opt out of teaching time to do this assignment. It is kind of sad that she had to offer that option. Plenty of teachers were up in arms over having this assignment. I can't lie, the email caused me to roll my eyes a little. I'm not even sure why. I don't think I minded the fact that she gave us this assignment. I might have been annoyed at all the options for completing the assignment. I don't even know why and quite honestly, I don't want to give it another moment's thought.
This is the book we're reading:
One of our district initiatives is a focus on SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING. It is important. Really, it is. Our students seem to come to class less ready to learn and have fewer skills for self-regulation and cooperation. If our goal is student learning, then we have to address their social emotional learning too. I'm hoping this book gets a lot better. The introduction and first chapter did not engage me. Instead, I had to force myself to stick with the book. There were some sections that caused me to pause and reflect but overall, I'm not loving it yet.
For me, the most compelling part of the first chapter was the story of two brothers. Both were tracked. One thrived and the other did not. Only, it was the brother who was sent to a vocational school because he demonstrated less potential than his brother who ended up thriving. The authors pointed to the fact that this brother, who was encouraged by his boss, had a growth mindset.
As the chapter developed, the author's talked about how students can mask their belief that they're not smart enough. I got to wondering about the successful brother. While some students who doubt their ability might mask their lack of intelligence with behavior or laziness, I'm wondering if the brother with the growth mindset had a growth mindset at all.
They brother in the story reminded me of my own dad and myself. First, I'll share my dad's story. While never quite as successful as the brother in the story, my dad went to an inner-city public school where he could not attend the high school where college-bound kids went because he didn't show that kind of potential. He grew up in a very poor family who was busy raising 6 kids. His oldest sister was mentally retarded. His parents had their hands full. They were able to provide the basics most of the time. My dad never felt supported in school. He never felt like he connected with any of his teachers. He dropped out of school before graduating. He enlisted in the Air Force. After an honorable discharge he began his career at an electrical distributor/contractor. Over the years, he demonstrated good work ethic and a commitment to learning the business. He was eventually promoted to management and earned a salary that afforded him the ability to send his four kids to parochial school and a few of us to college. I'm just not sure there was a growth mindset at play. My guess is that my dad questioned whether he was smart enough. In an effort to mask his inability to measure up, my dad worked hard until he attained success.
My story is a bit different. I was always very young for my grade. I went off to Kindergarten at just four years old. I struggled early on with reading and missing a good deal of school in first grade due to pneumonia and other illnesses didn't help. I was in low reading groups and was always aware that I was less smart. In sixth grade I transferred to a new school. I was eager for a fresh start. After taking a placement test, I was placed in the lower track and had to use the same reading book I had used in the fifth grade at my previous school. I was humiliated. I started to hang around with kids from the upper level class. I tried to act like they acted. I even worked to improve my handwriting so that it was more like their neat handwriting. I really started to focus in on my school work. I slowly made gains. I never really caught up with my peers until high school. I'm not sure I had a growth mindset. To this day, I work hard. Sometimes I think I work hard to mask this still-present notion that I'm not as smart. I don't think I'm much different than those kids who mask their inability with poor behavior or laziness. I just chose to mask my inability in a way that was socially acceptable and positive such that it benefited me in the long run.
I did my homework. I even responded to the two comprehension questions we were asked to answer. I'm reserving the right to change my mind about the quality of the book. For now, it is just okay.