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The Power of Yet...

Yet...so much power in one word.  It brings to mind the notion that something is not finished...an action yet to be completed.

Teamwork!
      A good friend of mine...a mentor, who happens to also be my principal,  Bethany Hill, recently posed the question on Twitter... "What if we viewed  barriers and obstacles as opportunities?"  My mind immediately went to the  amazing obstacle course that our PE teacher currently had set up in our  gymnasium.  I was visualizing my little first graders' eyes as they walked into the  gym and saw this colorful array of obstacles.  Their eyes lit up with excitement,  some of them literally jumped up and down with pure glee at the challenge  before them.
      Next, I thought of how they intentionally took the challenge and began to  problem solve how they were going to maneuver through the course.  They  didn't know how they were going to do it yet...but they were determined to  figure it out.  Not one child said, "I can't do this.  I don't want to try."
 Maneuvering the Course

     Why was this situation any different from a new math skill, a reading challenge, or a writing assignment?  We have the power to instill in our students a growth mindset that we are ALL still learning.  There are so many things that I, as a teacher, still don't know...yet.  I relish the opportunities I have to show my students the things I am currently learning and working on.  They need to know that we, just like them, are in a constant state of growing and learning.

     I was given a challenge to help my students by changing their mindsets from one of "I can't" to one of "I can't...yet."  I initiated the conversation with a simple question in morning meeting...

"What is something you don't know how to do yet, but you hope to be able to do some day?"

Wow!  The conversations we had were amazing!  They were so open about all the things they had a desire to do, but couldn't.  So I posed my next question to them...

"So if you don't know how to do that today, does it mean that you won't ever be able to do it?"

The looks that crossed their faces were priceless.  They looked at me like I had just said the most ridiculous thing they had ever heard.  One student immediately responded that of course that was not true.  He went on to say that he practices every week...that he's getting better... that he thinks by the end of first grade he'll definitely be able to do it.  (He was referring to learning how to swim.)

   There it was...a breakthrough!  I immediately related the conversation to school and explained that even though there were things at school that we couldn't do yet...with practice and effort, one day we would be able to.  Instantly the light bulbs were clicking on all around our circle of conversation.  Growth mindset was present in our morning meeting.  There it sat in the middle of our room, changing the way we looked at our lives...our abilities...our struggles.  Suddenly our struggles seemed okay.  They had been transformed into a colorful obstacle course.

The conversation had been changed!  Now instead of thinking they couldn't do something, they were making plans, determining what they needed to do so they could reach their goal.  They were encouraging each other to keep going, to keep trying.

I recently heard one of my students say, "I can't do that."  Before I could say anything, another student stepped up and said..."Yet."  "You can't do that yet.  But remember, you're still learning and one day you will."

The power of yet... pass it along.


~ Liz Savage



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