As educators all around the world get into the swing of the school year we also are working our way through new programs, initiatives, and ideas that have surfaced since the previous school year. As a professional working in the field of education, we realize that our job entails working with change on a daily basis. Individuals who understand that change is part of the profession are able to adapt quickly and continue doing the important work of helping students grow. These individuals don’t always necessarily agree with these changes but they understand that pushing against a change expends so much more energy that can better be served helping students.
We often see new initiatives surrounding two main areas. We see focus around a new tool or a new program. If you think back on your own education I am sure you can all pinpoint times when a new tool or a new program was introduced to you as a student. The same can be said if we think about education in a historical perspective. There has always been a new tool or new program that will help solve the educational crisis that plagues a specific time period. If you really think back to when this new tool or new program came along I am sure you would agree that you remember it because of the person that taught the program or the person that helped you work with the new tool. Think back to when the first book was published, a new graphite pencil was introduced, the first computer to come to the classroom, or the first whiteboard to be introduced. These were all new tools that were going to help students learn better. While these new tools did help enhance education they helped because there was a great person using those tools
As a social studies teacher in an urban high school that was under-performing, I can tell you from experience, that we saw new initiatives happening all the time. We would implement new programs before the old programs had any chance of succeeding or failing. We would try new tools all the time to help enhance the educational experience for our students. During this time I learned one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned in education. I learned that no matter how many different initiatives, programs or tools are being introduced you are always able to learn new strategies and approaches to help student learning. Great teaching will always be great teaching, no matter the tool or the program. All tools and programs offer educators an opportunity to enhance the education of a student in their class. It comes down to the educator’s choice on what they do with that opportunity. Do you choose to look for something to help you grow (growth mindset) or do you look at it as one more thing (fixed mindset)?
This year is not unlike any other year. Schools have new programs, new initiatives, and many new tools geared at enhancing student’s educational experiences. This can seem very overwhelming when you look at it in the big picture. However, thinking through a growth mindset lens, you realize that you are being presented with so many new opportunities to simply be awesome for your students. It doesn’t matter the tool or the program, it will always come back to the teacher. Great teachers will always make the experience great, regardless of the tool or program. They will take these programs and tools, enhance their own practice, and continue to make the experience great for the students. Others will choose to allow these programs and tools to overwhelm them and develop reasons why it was not successful. I hope that you take the growth mindset approach to these new opportunities and make all of them or part of them great for your students!