Imagine a teacher and his/her students on one side of the bridge. Think of the canyon as all that must be learned this year. Hear the teacher say, "Come with me. This is where we're going this year." Listen to the students:
"Let's go. It looks great!"
"I don't know. It looks awfully far."
"I don't think I can make it."
"Can you help me get across?"
The image was put into my head by Carol Tomlinson. (Drama and voices are my own.)
What does it take to get all students across the bridge? As I wrote in my first post on differentiation, Tomlinson thinks about this question in two ways. Leading for differentiation and managing for differentiation. The focus on leading pulled somethings together for me with new clarity.
Leading for differentiation is the creation of that community of learners. It's how we get them to set foot on that bridge. It's how we get them to keep walking, even when the journey is uphill and we are starting to wonder if we will ever get there.
When Carol Ann Tomlinson spoke in Winnipeg several years ago, she mentioned a psychologist and author named Carol Dweck. I purchased and read the book and thought it was brilliant... but I took no further action. When I heard Tomlinson in San Francisco, she talked about her again. So did at least five other speakers. When someone's ideas are causing that much buzz, we need to think about them.
Dweck researches and writes about two kinds of mindsets: fixed and growth.
- Success comes from being smart
- Genetics and environment determine what we can do
- Some kids are smart- some aren't
- Teachers can't override these difficulties
- Success comes from effort
- With hard work, most students can do most things
- Teachers can override students' profiles
- A key role of the teacher is to set high goals, provide high support, ensure student focus-to find the thing that makes school work for a student.
- (Carol Tomlinson & Marcia Imbeau 2011)
We need to think about the implications of our own mindset on who, where, what and how we teach.
We also need to think about how we are communicating our mindset to our students. I want my students to be really clear on the fact that I have a growth mindset. More.... I want them to have a growth mindset too.
How We Came to Be...Us
Because my teacher treats me with respect,I feel a sense of dignity in this place.Because my teacher treats everyone of us with respect,We are respectful of one another.Because my teacher sees our possibilities,I am beginning to see them too.Because my teacher says sweat makes winners,We're learning to sweat.Because my teacher works hard for me,I want to work hard for her.Because my teacher won't settle for less than our best,We aim high more often.Because my teacher says we are responsible for one another,We help one another succeed.Because my teacher helps us see ourselves through her eyes,We see hope in ourselves.Because my teacher is a great coach,We are a great team.
- Carol Tomlinson