One of the consequences of the pushed down curriculum is that some students are not developmentally ready to master the material. These children are not “stupid” or “ignorant,” but just need a little more time to grow. You all have children in your class who can master anything thrown at them, while other children struggle daily and feel like failures. It is our responsibility as teachers to help the students see value in hard work and find successes along the way. We are not responsible for the standards and curriculum we are expected to follow, but we can influence the children by what we do and say in the classroom to value all learning styles and growth for everyone.
I am excited by the research and information coming out about the growth mindset. Do you believe that all children can grow and learn with hard work and a passion for learning? It seems like an easy concept, but how often do you think, “If only I were smarter?” or do you think, “It may take some time, but I can learn this if I work.” My friend, Jackie, has made good use of helping her 3rd grade students keep engaged and working hard, even when it may be difficult by applying some of the growth mindset ideas. She uses examples from sports and everyday life to show children that most of life takes practice. (Boy, does it ever!) She tells the children that they are growing their brains as they tackle subjects, strategies, or concepts that are not easy. After all, everyone could use more gray matter, no matter how much you have. Instead of thinking that they will never “get it” whatever “it” is, they tell themselves and each other, “Not yet, but I (you) will.”
There is so much to learn about growth mindset, so look it up. You can start with Carol Dweck ‘s groundbreaking book, along with many other books and articles on how to use this in the classroom, even with our young children. Summer reading anyone?