The following is a recent email that was sent to the faculty and staff of DFHS…
I came across a great article in The New York Times over the weekend on the positive impact that instilling a growth mindset can have on students of all backgrounds in all disciplines. In some ways, the article resonated with me on a personal level since I had a “can’t” mindset in high school when it came to higher level math courses. When my daughter Evelyn was in first grade, I started seeing a similar mindset in her when it came to math. This wasn’t surprising since she comes from a language rich “arts based” home where reading, writing, and the arts always win out over numbers. Math homework that year (common core!) was always a struggle and she scored in the bottom percentile on the STAR assessment (we use these at Springhurst as well).
Before the mindset of “not being good at math” could creep further, we shifted our language around math and her experiences with math whenever we sat down for homework and/or whenever we talked about the subject in general. In second grade, Evelyn had a teacher who was also super positive when it came to all things math. Not surprisingly, we started to see a noticeable shift in her confidence and attitude and with that a continued increase in her performance.
Fast forward to her 3rd grade parent-teacher conference that I attended yesterday. Her teacher became wide-eyed when I said that she “disliked” math in past years and had struggled a bit as a result. She had just recently taken the STAR assessment in math and scored in the top percentile nationally. If you have seen the 80s movie Stand and Deliver, you may remember Jaime Escalante’s claim that “students will rise to the level of expectations that we set for them.” It all comes down to belief and mindset. I’m certainly not sharing this story because I’m a proud dad, but instead to emphasize the importance of the words that we use with our students and the positive impact that mindset and attitude can have with anything and everything in life.
The article can be accessed by clicking on the link below. Enjoy.