It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop. Confucius

Ahhhhh, the meditation of washing and polishing stemware. The process of drying and holding the glass up into the sunshine, examining it closely, hearing the songs of celebration echoing, and rubbing honour into the glass for the next guest who will grace our home: it reminds me of Brother Lawrence who found prayer in the simple things, even in washing the dishes.  

Also, while I have hand-washed stemware countless times before, yesterday I began to mindfully pay attention. I learned the power of a drop of dish soap in each glass, how using the hottest water possible does make a difference and the benefits of a tea towel versus a hand towel. I could’ve mindlessly polished, but instead, I learned many important lessons.

On a journey of selfhood, I am always learning, even when I am doing common household tasks. Learning for me is about adopting a growth mindset. In education, we are discussing this idea at length.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

How we do things matters.

The trajectory of education includes a deep reverence for process over product. It represents a significant shift. We are less concerned about how a student performs and much more concerned about the competencies they are developing throughout the learning process.

We are living the growth mindsets with questions like: “

  • What did you learn?
  • What could you do differently next time?
  • What mistake did you make today that helped you learn something?
  • What did you try hard at today?”

These are the questions transforming mistakes into learning and red correction marks into opportunities.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck and Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth are two excellent books for educators and parents hoping to understand education’s shift to focus on process.

Dweck teaches,

Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.

Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success

A shift to a growth mindset helps learners consider focus, determination, and ability to learn from mistakes, feedback, and challenge. The brain is more like a muscle, it changes and gets stronger when you use it. When you learn new things, your brain connections multiply and thicken. So, we apply these principles to all situations of learning and novelty.

Dweck’s principles include the idea:

Observe, Learn, Improve

Improvement looks like defining a plan.

Did you know if you improve 1% every day for 70 days, you will be twice as good! Change, even minor tweaks, help us sustain growth.  We all want to improve and it’s simpler than we think.

What are some new ways you could think about how or what you’re learning? What are a few ways you could implement your new thinking?

Creating a vivid and concrete plan for doing what is uncomfortable or is stretching our edges is how you will implement change.

It’s why Learn Forward consistently asks open, honest questions in templates to support your reflection and planning. If you write your plan down, it will make your plan come alive.

Grit author, Angela Duckworth, writes,

…most dazzling human achievements are, in fact, the aggregate of countless individual elements, each of which is, in a sense, ordinary.”

~Angela Duckworth

Personally working on growth.

When I make silly or haphazard mistakes, I get terribly self-critical. I don’t mind mistakes when learning as much, but careless mistakes make me crazy! I go to my shame place.  

Yet, this is not a good use of my energy.  I’d like to change or improve.

I know implementing the use of simple mantras or ways to speak about the issue more compassionate is helpful. I need these strategies accessible in my toolbelt. So, this week when I do something careless, I am going to take a deep breath and remind myself,

“Oh, you are human too. It’s so normal to make mistakes. What will you focus on now?”

In order to remember these simple phrases, I am going to write them in my journal today.  

I hope to make some small improvement in my own self-talk, in order to improve and grow.  In many ways, it is for me and in many other ways, it is for the children in my life.

Growth plans are the heart of personalized learning.

So we have to practice what we preach.  What incremental change will you make in your life, your home, or your classroom this week to focus on process and implement a growth mindset?

How will you help your students design personalized growth plans?

For the sake of the children,