I find myself having a lot of these moments nowadays. Since it’s my first year teaching 6th grade English Language Arts, I have been planning lessons with activities I am not sure will be a success. I mean, the lessons go wonderfully in my mind. But, you never know unless you try.
The week before we were to return to school after the winter break, I wondered what I would do with my students on the first day back. I knew I wanted to do a writing genre study on memoirs. I had been inspired after reading the book, Writing With Mentors: How To Reach Every Writer in the Room Using Current, Engaging Mentor Texts, by Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell.
I also knew that I wanted to engage my students in a way that would motivate them to learn. I didn’t want to come back to school after the break and fall into the same routine. . . read the story and answer the questions. Another goal I had was to utilize the technology being stored in the back of my room. I have access to a Chromebook cart, and I volunteered to keep it in my room to be shared among the other 6th grade language arts teachers. The cart sits back there untouched. The Chromebooks are locked up like inmates in a high security prison. Someone needed to break them out. I resolve to incorporate them into my lesson at least 2-3 times a week.
We have only been in school for 3 days, but I feel energized and excited about teaching. Already I have found myself making statements like, “We are going to give this a try and see how it works.” I am trying to encourage a growth mindset in my students, so I feel it’s important for them to hear me say those words and to let them know when something didn’t work. (Click here to read a past post of mine for more information about growth mindset.) Sometimes I announce, “Growth mindset moment!” I also tell them that I have a plan for next time. Several times I feel like I have failed miserably and I think to myself, “Well, that didn’t work.” However, that’s the beauty of teaching 5 periods. By the time my last period rolls around, I have been reflecting, refining, and tweaking the lesson.
In the past, I would have been too afraid to try anything new if I didn’t know the outcome. I remember having a conversation with my friend, Linda, a few years ago. She is the epitome of a person who embraces a growth mindset. I mentioned my fear of failure to her. She said she was not afraid of failing and saw it as a learning opportunity. I looked at her and wondered how she could live that way? Today, I feel a lot like Linda when something doesn’t turn out as I planned. I ask myself, “What can I learn from all of this?”
This afternoon at lunch, a fellow teacher commented, “This week is going by so slowly.” For me it’s just the opposite. This first week back from the break seems to be flying by. Maybe it’s because I am excited about what I am teaching. Maybe it’s because I made a commitment to use those darn Chromebooks more often. Maybe it’s because of all my growth mindset moments. Whatever it is. I can’t wait to go to work tomorrow. 🙂