Shaping Superlative Schools

Here are Five Helpful Hints for Exhibiting a Growth Heartset

In the emotive, making-of-the-mammal Disney movie “Zootopia,” protagonist and officer extraordinaire Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) endures bad badgering, abundant bullying, and beastly berating while aspiring to become the city’s first crowned cottontail cop. Yet despite uncivil circumstances and a series of exhausting encounters with furtive fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), she persists, prods, and pushes on. Ultimately, our flocculent, furry friend finds collaborators in questionable quarters and encounters rapport and responsiveness in virtuous vertebrates.
At its core, the movie is a celebration of inclusion and resolution, and teaches that appearances may not only be ambiguous, but also absolutely inaccurate. The noble notion of employing empathy, kindling kindness, and trying tenderness to focus forward could also be acutely accentuated now in education, given our current climate and challenging circumstances.

1. Emphasize Empathy

Infusing empathy across curricula establishes a deeper sense of self-awareness, integrity, and identity, accentuates acceptance, guides genuine mental health progress, elevates erudition, strengthens civility, and greatly sharpens social graces.

2. Build Character via Full-Bodied Books

Building scholars’ character is another crucial component of having a growth heartset. Consider asking these key questions for teaching well-planned chalk talk to meliorate morality, promote growth mindsets, and harbor healthy heartsets:

  • What just happened?

  • How does the character feel?

  • What makes the character act this way?

  • What makes the character feel this way?

  • What do you think of the character’s actions?

  • What do you think of the character’s words?

  • What might the character have done differently?

  • In contrast, what might you have done?

The ability to put oneself in another’s proverbial cleats, sneakers, moccasins, or sandals is not only a key component of developing an avant-garde growth mindset, but it also challenges children to consider choices and think outside of the proverbial Xbox. Scholastic also recently published an exhaustive list of books that underscore compassion, character, courage, integrity, tolerance, and responsibility. Themes run the proverbial gamut from caring, fairness, and honesty, to extinguishing school bullying, with an emphasis on cultivating compassion everywhere while using words that harness care.

3. Bolster the Beauty and Benefits of Bilingualism

There are notable brain-based benefits of bilingualism. People who speak two languages often outperform monolinguals on general measures of executive function. Emphasize to parents, guardians, and family members that bilingual students should not lose their native languages while learning English, and that students’ mother tongues could be used as a scaffold to better decipher meaning, compare language nuances and structure, and ultimately augment and support learning English as a new language.

4. Reclaim, Remodel, and Reteach Right-Minded Responsibility

All children want to see themselves as response-able — powerful and able to respond to what needs to be done. Instilling responsibility boosts self-esteem, and empowering young people teaches a veritable life skill–to have a greater impact on family, community, and the world. Realistically, responsibility relates to attaining the right attitude. Counseling children to contribute in class and help at home fosters good feelings, which may lead to augmented ownership of actions and continued life accomplishments.
Rather than assigning orders and waiting impatiently for task completion, consider acting as a guide-on-the-side and asking open-ended questions to instill a deeper sense of responsibility:

  • What did you do?

  • How come you did that?

  • What needs to be done now?

  • What choices could you make?

  • What might be the consequences of each choice?

Invite children to take ownership of their behavior and empower them to make good choices rather than blame, complain, and turn responsibility into perpetual punishments. Also, involving a scholar in behavior ownership is more important than having the job done quickly or perfectly.

5. Support Service Learning Across Subjects

Service learning embodies best practices across a variety of subjects. Current issues to consider may include global warming, environmental conservation, and poverty alleviation. Precise lesson planning coupled with community outreach to organizations with reliable resources could offer opportunities for student reflection, appropriate assignments for students to pen pertinent papers, and/or a collaborative presentation to point out pertinent pondering.

Final Thoughts: Compassion Clearly Counts

Unselfishness may lead to more profound perspectives, and tapping into scholars’ inner talents may lead to healthy healing across humanity. Yes, magnanimity truly matters. Having a growth heartset can inspire scholars to take action, lead with love, and kindle compassion. Give students the gift of graciousness, and empower them to amplify good will and a growth heartset throughout their lives.

Originally published by LinkedIn Pulse on September 23, 2021.

Scott Freiberger is an assistant principal in New York. He is an attentive administrator and a passionate pedagogue who advocates for all students, especially ELLs/MLLs and students with functional support needs. 

Follow him on Twitter/X: @scottfreiberger

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