Increase Grit through Growth Mindset


Enjoying reading Grit this morning… 🙂

“Students who graduated on schedule were grittier, and grit was a more powerful predictor of graduation than how much students cared about school, how conscientious they were about their studies, and even how safe they felt at school.”- Angela Duckworth, Grit

“Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it.” – Angela Duckworth, Grit

Motivation trumps intelligence. Duckworth TED Talk

“The highly accomplished were paragons of perseverance.” – Grit


Integrate Disciplines


Why Should Schools Embrace Integrated Studies?: It Fosters a Way of Learning that Mimics Real Life, Edutopia

“Integrated studies, sometimes called interdisciplinary studies, brings together diverse disciplines in a comprehensive manner, enabling students to develop a meaningful understanding of the complex associations and influences within a topic. A happy by-product of this approach, which is often coupled with project-based learning, is that it makes school more interesting and productive for students and teachers.”

“Creativity, adaptability, critical reasoning, and collaboration are highly valued skills. When it comes to fostering those skills in the classroom, integrated study is an extremely effective approach, helping students develop multifaceted expertise and grasp the important role interrelationships can play in the real world.”

Photo credit: Flickr

Slow Down


Are traditional school schedules and teacher classrooms too rushed and hurried to foster creativity and innovative thinking? Is the pressure to perform in a standards-based culture too high to promote deep and reflective thought? Do factory-model schools cultivate trust and relationships that drive honest feedback, teamwork and the co-creation of solutions?

And the implication is that the real or perceived societal pressure we feel to get more and more things done, and process more and more information, can be an enemy to real love and true learning.” – Four Reasons to Slow Down by Jon Bloom

Learning takes time and patience and this conflicts with how our society and our public education system often operate.

“In an ideal world, the school day would reflect kids’ changing needs and rhythms. There would be time for free play; school would start later to allow time for students’ much-needed rest; the transition time between classes would be longer, allowing time for kids to walk down the hall and say hi to their friends and plan their next moves; kids would have the opportunity to step away from school “work” in order to regroup and process what they’ve absorbed. “The actual encoding of information doesn’t take place when you’re hunched over a desk,” she said.” – Why Kids Need Schools to Change by Tina Barseghian

Deep and thoughtful learning that generates creative and innovative ideas and solutions requires the time and patience to:

  • think
  • reflect
  • dream
  • hope
  • discuss ideas
  • ask questions
  • seek answers
  • encourage others
  • build relationships
  • generate new ideas
  • test theories
  • create solutions

“The necessity of human ingenuity is undisputed. A recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 ‘leadership competency’ of the future.” – The Creativity Crisis by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman

This leaves me wondering about the learning and creativity within my school…

    • Do students know how to be creative? Can creativity be taught?

Creativity can be taught,” says James C. Kaufman, professor at California State University, San Bernardino.” – The Creativity Crisis

  • Are teachers designing learning experiences that promote deep learning and creative output?

“What’s common about successful programs is they alternate maximum divergent thinking with bouts of intense convergent thinking, through several stages. Real improvement doesn’t happen in a weekend workshop. But when applied to the everyday process of work or school, brain function improves.” – The Creativity Crisis

“When students display creativity and innovation in PBL, they are able to generate and refine solutions to complex problems or tasks.” – How Can We Teach and Assess Creativity and Innovation in PBL? by John Larmer


Encourage Reflection & Action

As the instructional coach, I wonder what I can do to support deeper thinking and creativity within every classroom and online learning environment in my school. Maybe I should procrastinate and be unhurried! 🙂

“We’re always asked to be faster and more precise. But what can we learn from slowing down — even procrastinating? This hour, TED speakers explore why taking it slow is crucial…for all of us.” – Slowing Down from the TED Radio Hour

This radio program and Grant’s article, Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate, illuminate the idea of slowing down in order to come up with creative and innovative ideas. By slowing down and taking time to reflect on a problem, we give ourselves time to come up with different solutions. Sometimes, our initial solution or answer is not as good as those ideas we come up with after taking in and wrestling with and testing lots of ideas.

“But while procrastination is a vice for productivity, I’ve learned — against my natural inclinations — that it’s a virtue for creativity.” –  Grant

“It was only when they first learned about the task and then put it off that they considered more novel ideas. It turned out that procrastination encouraged divergent thinking.” – Grant

““You call it procrastination, I call it thinking.” – Aaron Sorkin

I had never heard of the Unhurried movement until I started researching for this blog post, but the principles definitely align to being patient and engaging in discussions in which you truly listen (skills which I’m practicing). I love the philosophy of this approach which challenges us to relax and focus on listening instead of talking in a frenetic volley that is laden with interruptions.

The Unhurried Approach “applies to any process that requires the participation of human beings. We use Unhurried as a guiding principle in our work with people.”

I hope to apply the principles for being unhurried at work and plan some opportunities for Unhurried Conversations for teachers and students. In order to support deeper thinking and creativity within every classroom and online learning environment in my school, I will…

Photo Credit: flickr

Cultivate Creativity


Some condemn schools for killing creativity. But, this week our high school celebrated creativity through a Holiday Café in which students and staff alike stayed after school to share their writing; one student even sang for us. Two of our English teachers hosted the event in which students were encouraged to perform poetry and stories they’d written this semester.

We had a great turnout – a room full of students sharing a part of themselves through a piece of their own writing over hot cocoa and coffee. So many talented kids at WCHS! I’m happy to say I also mustered up the courage to share a poem I wrote earlier this year. Putting your art out there for the world to see or hear takes a lot of courage so I applaud these kids for being brave and stepping out to share their writing.

“We are educating people out of their creative capacities.” – Sir Ken Robinson

“Our task is to educate their whole being…” – Sir Ken Robinson

Now, I’m left wondering how we might continue using creativity to improve teaching and learning at our school. How can we cultivate creativity across classrooms? How can we teach in ways that inspire students to be creative and innovative instead of passive and disengaged?


Learn from your Students


My aha’s from today’s classroom observations, co-teaching and two students’ critique of a teacher’s lesson:

  • Talk with students, not at them. Notice what they are saying – verbally and with their body language.
  • Listen to kids. They have valuable things to say.
  • Trust kids. They can engage in in-depth conversations, deep thinking and problem solving about meaningful topics.
  • Learn from kids. Ask and they will share insights that will help you improve your teaching.

Frost by Robert John Meehan

Sometimes a moment
Stands out in time
A new life discovered
By a lesson in rhyme

Everything changed by
A single selection
A turning point made
In a moment’s alliteration

A new way to continue
Discovered in rhyme
One moment that changed
My life for all time

In that moment of time
A difference was made
My turning point reached
A life’s validity laid

My life’s road discovered
By a lesson in rhyme
The road less traveled
Was that selection of mine

And that too has made
All the difference


Photo Credit: Pinterest



Believe in the Least of These


I had such a blessed day today and the highlight was working with a student from creative writing class. This student struggles academically and has an IEP but with support in a quiet setting and the promise of a reward for working for a certain amount of time he was able to complete his story. I had no idea what reward I would give him if he actually completed the assignment. 

When he did finish the entire piece (working twice as long as his teacher and I required) he asked,”Do you have any candy?” Luckily, I had tucked away a Snickers bar into my purse the night before so I happily gave it to him.  He deserved it along with lots of praise. I want to remember this day and how proud this student was to return to his class and tell his teacher he had finished his writing piece. 

ALWAYS believe in every student. Give them your BEST. (And if you have one, give them a Snickers bar.)

“…’Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” – Matt 25:40 NIV

“Then before I left class, Ms. Gruwell told me something that would change my life forever. She told me she believed in me. I have never heard those words from anyone… especially a teacher.” – The Freedom Writers Diary


Direct their Next Steps


“Feedback, whether it be written or verbal, must direct the next step for students. In Wiliam’s words, it should be a “recipe for future action” and provide direction for where students need to go next. Comments should be prioritized into smaller, doable next steps with time provided for students to apply the feedback they have been given. Oftentimes, less feedback can have a greater impact.” – Feedback: A Recipe for Future Action, Teresa Rogers, Kentucky Teacher 2017

The quality of the feedback you give should direct kids to the next steps. This jumped out at me this week as I read the first and second articles in this series by Rogers. I immediately thought of the most recent feedback I had given students in my high school’s creative writing class. I’m certain my feedback lacked the information they needed to make those next steps. Before I read those next set of creative writing pieces, I need to really consider how to give quality feedback that they can act upon. I need to give DESCRIPTIVE feedback.

“Descriptive feedback is intended to be constructive and is composed of both ‘achievement feedback’ and ‘improvement feedback.'” – Rogers

Descriptive Feedback Helps All Students Reach Proficiency from EL Education on Vimeo.