This past Saturday I attended #ParentCamp at Knapp Elementary School in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. The event was truly special and enabled parents to participate in sessions that helped in understanding the role education plays in their children's lives. Gwen Pescatore, the event organizer, did a phenomenal job of bringing relevant topics to the forefront, in order to move the educational conversation forward. Personally I attended two sessions with my parent hat on. One in particular focused on growth mindset. Dr. Spike Cook led the conversation on how all school stakeholders can come together to provide students with an educational experience that is both challenging and supportive.
The conversation on growth mindset led me to reflect on my own life, the life of my children, and of my students. Admittedly it has taken me many years to understand just how important it is for all school stakeholders to model and support a growth mindset so that students can ultimately be successful in all that they do. Carol Dweck defines growth mindset as follows:
The words of Carol Dweck are quite simple, yet powerful. One in particular, resilience, kind of hits home. Through all the pitfalls I have encountered over the years, being resilient has helped the most. Whether it was not landing a teaching or administrative job or having a book proposal rejected, being resilient in the face of failure has made me a better person. It has made me better because I was ultimately given another chance to redeem myself. See, this what the real world is all about, opportunity. When a person lives their life with a growth mindset they are able to be resilient and take advantage of another opportunity given to them.
So many famous people over the years have faced failure, but we're able to overcome obstacles because they possessed a growth mindset. Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Abraham Lincoln, and Albert Einstein all leverage the power of resiliency to get to where they are now. We as educators and parents must keep this in mind, as we try to put our students and children in a position to succeed. It takes a commitment to embracing failure, providing opportunity, and supporting a growth mindset. Sometimes things don't click for our students or children until much later on in life. You know what? That's perfectly fine.
Failure will always happen and its a critical part of growing up as a child, teenager, and yes as an adult. It must not be held over people's heads though or used as an "I gotcha!" Rather it must be a lesson in resiliency and taking advantage of the next opportunity that will arise. With a growth mindset and the proper support structure human beings of all ages can do amazing things. Over the past 37 years I have come a long way. Why? I was given opportunities and learned from my past failures. I was never put in a hole I couldn't dig myself out of. The real world was, is, and will always be a place full of chances. So let's make sure as parents and educators we set our children and students up to handle this reality.
Brad Currie is the author of All Hands on Deck: Tools for Connecting Educators, Parents, and Communities. He is one of the founding partners of Evolving Educators LLC. Brad is a 2014 ASCD Emerging Leader and Bammy Award Finalist. He currently serves as a K-8 Supervisor of Instruction and Middle School Vice Principal for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. Learn more about Brad by following him on Twitter @bradmcurrie or visiting his website at www.bradcurrie.net.