Have you ever applauded a student and said way to go but inside thought, “That is the best he can do”? Admittedly, I have. I think as teachers we all succumb to believing we can judge student progress, as if we were perfect little Vygotsky’s assessing a student’s Zone of Proximal Development. However, this year teaching has shown me differently.

My headmaster suggested we read Carol Dweck’s book Mindset, and it changed my outlook on teaching and how I speak to my own three boys. While this isn’t meant to be a review of the book, think to yourself how Michael Jordan’s high school basketball coach feels now, after assessing Jordan’s talent and saying he wasn’t good enough to make the basketball team. (This 15 years after Jordan’s historic flu game.) Now, ask yourself if it is possible that how you speak to a student affects their performance, perhaps even stunts it.

My school has a motto, “Effort Creates Intelligence.” While I was skeptical at first, this year has proved me otherwise. Many of my students outperformed my expectations, expectations that I “mastered” through nine years of teaching.

This summer I suggest you read Mindset and consider how it will change how you teach and how you speak to your kids. It will most certainly change their lives.


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