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Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Growth Mindset: Mistakes Are Okay!

When we first start our school year, our main focus is for the kids to get to know each other and to create a caring community where we feel safe to take risks and make mistakes. We have three rules: 1) Be Respectful (Kind) 2) Be Safe 3) Be Responsible.  Because Kindergarten is so new, many mistakes are made as we work on learning what these rules mean and look like in our classroom!  We spent a lot of time talking about having a growth mindset and when we make mistakes, or forget a rule, it is how we grow our brains!

Here is one example of encouraging a growth mindset. The kids rotated to each area of our room so that they could explore the materials available and get a feel for the types of explorations that will happen in those different areas. As with any "first times," there were problems!  Here is an example of one that happened during our first week!


I have a lot of "Loose Parts" in our building area such as pebbles, glass beads, pinecones, rocks, wood pieces, etc.  The first week of school, I have these all covered with red paper.  The kids are told that anything with red paper on is off limits. Somehow (and this happens once every year without fail) every single bag of glass beads that were sorted by color was dumped on the floor and mixed together, the two friends, sitting happily in the middle of their mess!  In the past I would have been frustrated, but I have changed my mindset!  Now I see this as a great learning opportunity!  I sat down calmly with my two friends and explained the problem. "Wow!  This is quite a pile you made!  It looks like you two made a mistake.  These were not to be played with because I haven't explained how to take care of these yet, but you played with them anyway. Now we have a big problem.  This is a big mess! What will you two need to do to solve this problem?"  They looked down at their mess and realization hit their faces! They were going to have to clean this mess up!  We talked about what a huge job this was going to be!  They ended up having to spend the whole next play period categorizing glass beads into groups!  The great thing is that as they worked together (with my help), we talked about how kindergarten is new and they made a mistake. We talked about teamwork and that if we work as a team, cleaning up will be easier.  We talked about mistakes and how everyone makes them. We talked about how mistakes help our brains grow and so they are actually learning experiences and not a bad thing.

The brain in this photo came from Kristen Smith's Growth Mindset Pack
I asked them what they had learned from this mistake and they told me they would never dump them all out again because it was too much work to clean up...and they never have!  My favorite part of this experience was that I asked them if we could share their mistake so that the others could learn from it.  They were happy to do this!  If they would have said no, I would have respected that! The reason they shared is that they did not feel judged for their mistake. They did not feel like they did anything "bad" or "wrong." They felt that our community was safe for them to do this.  I was so proud of them.  Our classroom is a place were we will look at mistakes as learning opportunities, not bad behavior.  I make sure they know when I make mistakes. I model how I will problem solve and learn when I make these mistakes.  In all honesty, I hope more of these mistakes happen as we grow together as a learning community.

The other thing helping us have a growth mindset is:  The Power of Yet

Our big word is "yet!" If we can't do something, we can't do it... YET!  Once they learn this word, everything and anything is possible! They feel free to try, even if they are not sure how. Here are some books that I used to help us learn this concept:


One book not pictured is "Ish" by Peter Reynolds!  It is a great book to help with growth mindset. Kristen Smith from "A Day in First Grade" has a Growth Mindset unit in her Teacher Pay Teacher store that gave me so many ideas.  If you are a teacher, check out her blog and her store!

Now that the children are aware of this, they understand that they may not be able to read or spell or draw certain things....YET.  They may not be able to make a sculpture or painting look exactly the way they want it to...YET.  They may not be able make a magnificent thing in our engineering area work correctly...YET.  They may not be able to count to 100...YET but they get closer each time! They realize this is okay!  They just have to keep trying and someday they will be successful!


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