Tuesday, June 21, 2016

One: Teacher's Mindset

Are you a fifth grade teacher who wants to teach math well?

If so, begin with a successful teaching mindset.

What does that mean?

It means believing in the following tenets:
  • Every child is capable of learning in meaningful, positive ways.
  • Relationships matter. Develop strong relationships with every child.
  • Build Team with families, students, colleagues, administrators, and community members--when we work together, we do better.
  • Understand the teaching program expectations well--know the content.
What actions contribute to these tenets?

Find or make signage that reminds you, your students, and other visitors to the classroom that everyone is capable of learning in meaningful, positive ways. Position that signage in your classroom in a place where you and your students will see it as you teach.

  • Storytelling: Explain to students that there was a time when people thought some could learn and others could not. Tell students that myth has been proven untrue, and now we know that every child can learn and every child can learn well. The challenge is helping every child recognize the way they learn well and putting that effort, mindset, and tools in place. 

  • Ask students to think about their own learning journey. Let children reflect and then present their math learning journey via writing a letter, making a timeline, creating a poster, drawing a cartoon or using another way to demonstrate their math learning to date. Give students time to share their "math autobiographies" with classmates. Respond to their work in writing. Save a copy of their work for later student reflection and additions. 
  • Relate: Tell students your own math journey. Also explain to students that good learning depends on positive relationships. Ask students to think about the relationships they've had with teachers in the past, and then, with students, list the attributes that characterize positive teacher-student relationships. Keep that list posted in places where you and the students will see it daily.
  • Communication: Establish regular (perhaps weekly) communication patterns for teacher to the learning team (families, students, colleagues, and administrators) and student-family/teacher. When everyone on the team knows what's happened, what is currently happening, and what's coming up, people feel like they are part of the team and people contribute to that team.
  • Open Door Policy: Invite students, families, and colleagues to email you or set up appointments with you when there are issues, questions, or ideas to discuss. Typically when you do this along with regular communication, the meetings are greater at the start, but less as the year goes along because the learning team develops an efficient, targeted teaching/learning relationship.
  • Study the Content: My posts in the days ahead will outline patterns of study that help a teacher teach well throughout the math year.
Successful teaching depends on a positive teacher mindset. Books like Mindset help teachers to strengthen a positive, proactive mindset for teaching well.

What else would you add with regard to developing a strong mindset for teaching well?