Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Mindset for Learning #MustReadin2016 (6/36)

A Mindset for Learning is one of the most important books I've ever read as a teacher and mom. It's one of the most inspiring books. I think every preschool and elementary teacher should own it. Probably middle school, high school and college, too.  At a time in history when our country is at a crossroads, leaving me often puzzled, frustrated, and despairing about what will be, a book such as this one reminds me that being a teacher is about creating a better world. It's a battle cry. 

In the Introduction, authors Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz write, "It is our deepest wish to build classrooms of risk and resilience so that all children...have an opportunity to live bigger and more bravely in the world. To live, and to engage, with hope and joy." Throughout the book, "a constellation of stances" are described as ways to become more successful and happy. The stances are persistence, empathy, flexibility, optimism, and resilience. 

The book has practical strategies and ideas on ways to teach the stances to your students and ways to help them set goals and internalize these stances. There are case studies of students and examples from classrooms. The stances are taught in workshop style classrooms with small group strategy lessons as well as whole class discussions/lessons. The appendix is full of helpful resources, including a book list with stances that match book titles. I love how this gives the teacher yet another lens to use when reading a picture book and how many of these books can be returned to again and again for reading, writing, and mindset lessons.

Mraz and Hertz end with their dream: "This book holds our dream for all children: that they grow to be flexible, resilient, empathetic, optimistic individuals, brave in the face of risk, kind in the face of challenge, joyful and curious in all things." These stances will help children become better readers, writers, mathematicians, thinkers...but above all, it will help them to be happier, kinder people who work to make a more just world. I can't think of anything we need more.