Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Opening Minds - A Teacher Study

A group of colleagues and I are reading and discussing Opening Minds by Peter Johnston.    This book is about how our words impact our students.  The purpose of this book study is to help us focus on growth mindset, and I am certain that it will.  But this first chapter gave me much to think about not only as a teacher, but also as a learner.

I believe that I have a professional responsibility to be the best teacher I can be.  I try hard not to criticize or judge those who accept the status quo, do not partake in professional development, or become stagnant in their teaching practices. That is their choice, and who am I to judge? (Ok, maybe I did judge a little there.)

Instead, I choose to share my learning and to encourage others to seek out opportunities to learn. Reading this first chapter made me think about opening my own mind as a teacher.

I believe I owe it to my students, my colleagues, and my profession to be a learner and to hone my craft as a teacher.

The book opens with a short vignette about a teacher who admits she has made a mistake. Johnston explains that by admitting mistakes, we level the "power difference between teacher and students" (pg. 3).

Students need to see that we are not perfect, and we should not desire an image of perfection.  But as I read further, my thinking turned inward.  How often are we, as teachers, allowed to make mistakes?  When we have a mark of not meeting expectations or ineffective on our evaluations, do we see this as an opportunity for growth?  Or do we see it as failure?  Do administrators allow us to make mistakes and turn them into learning opportunities?  Or do they see us ineffective?

Another take-away from this chapter is that if they(we) don't understand that making a mistake does not mean they(we) are "incompetent, stupid, or not a good person" then "they will not be able to risk taking on learning challenges for fear of making mistakes" (pg. 3).  How often do we, as teachers, risk taking on new learning challenges?  How many teachers even see themselves as learners?  How does this view impact our classrooms?  Our teaching?

If we don't see ourselves as learners and risk taking on learning challenges, how can we even begin to project and instill that image to our students?

I look forward to learning more in the chapters ahead.  If you have read Opening Minds, please feel free to share your thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. I know I have this book on my shelf, but I don't think I read it. Maybe some of it? Anyway, I will pick it up again. I believe that having a growth mindset means that you make mistakes and learn from them. I am not a perfectionist by any means, but I do chew on stuff that i've done or said when I think I've messed up. Parents and students are more willing to work with me when I can say, "I don't think I handled this very well. What can we do now?" Thanks for sharing your thinking.