Dear Winchester High School Families,
I hope that this newsletter finds you well and able to enjoy our beautiful fall displays that are so evident in our seasonal splendor. The view from my office overlooking the Griffin Museum is truly spectacular on any day, but this time of year, it is really stellar. I hope that you have time to get outside and enjoy the crisp fall weather that we have been enjoying for we all know that we may have a long winter of fireside and blanket nesting in store.
I can hardly believe that next week will mark the two month mark with my days at WHS. It is already starting to feel like my home away from home and the newness has definitely worn away for me. Though I am still struggling with the earlier wake up call as a night owl; much of my new role has not been such a change as I originally thought. Students have been the easiest part of my swap from Lynch to WHS. Our WHS students are really something. They are friendly, kind, respectful and truly fun to be around! I am enjoying every minute with them.
In my work that now spans over twenty-seven years with students, I have become interested in resiliency and wrote about the grit factor in last month’s newsletter. I also briefly highlighted the notion of Growth Mindset last month. This month, I want to offer more detail about my new passion-looking at student (and adult) motivation to learn. Last month, I introduced or perhaps re-introduced the concept of Growth Mindset and its ‘creator’ Carol Dweck. Carol, who is a professor Stanford, has spent her career researching and writing about the topic. Her 2006 book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success is a international best seller. In it she offers the theory that individuals can be put on a continuum based on their mindset. Some believe that talent, skill or indeed success is based on innate ability while others believe that hard work, perseverance and growth can achieve comparable results. In a 2012 interview, Dweck defined both mindsets with the following:
“In a fixed mindset, students believe that their basic abilities, their intelligence, their
talents are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their
goal becomes to look smart all of the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset,
students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good
teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone
can be Einstein but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”
I am a firm believer of hard work and growth. However the growth mindset isn’t just about effort. It is also about self-advocacy and seeking new strategies to utilize when one gets stuck. Effort is not enough on its own, students need to make a commitment to learn and improve.
So this month I challenge all of us to adopt a growth mindset in both ourselves and with others. If we encourage continuous growth and an ‘always learning’ mentality in ourselves then we can certainly model it for others. Productive struggle is good for soul…trust me.