Let’s talk about the mindset of a teacher for a bit. Whether you are just beginning the process of flipping your class or are an experienced old pro at it, there is one thing that could make or break your efforts: Mindset.
The best resource I have found regarding mindset and goal setting would be the book The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. I have added the link to the book below. You will find I like to share products that have impacted me, and this book has had a profound one. I have taken many of the principles from this book and applied them to my life in and out of the classroom. This book is not written for just educators, but you will find it is quite applicable to what we do.
“Mastery lies on an infinite continuum. As a result, we will never reach the end.” –Chris Matakas-
Mastery is an ongoing process that constantly builds on the basics while gaining new skills along the way. Do you want to know what separates good from great and great from best? The best people in their respective fields never stop improving. The defining factor is how a person views mastery.
Riding a Bike Downhill vs. Climbing a Plateau
So often people have a goal in mind and they stop learning and improving once they achieve it. Don’t get me wrong. You need to celebrate victories! Take a few moments and pat yourself on the back, but then form a new goal. Do not allow yourself to be the person who has worked so hard and then plateau. Keller says that instead of setting goals, you should live by themes. Living by a “theme” will then lead you down a path of constant improvement and learning. Think of it as riding a bike down a hill. The hardest part is getting on the bike and starting the movement. Once you get over this obstacle, then you need little effort to keep your balance and continue moving.
When you view mastery as riding a bike downhill seeking constant improvement, then you will begin to pick up other skills along the way that will help you live your theme more easily.
Keep It Stupid Simple!
“Order and simplification are the first steps toward the mastery of a subject.” –Thomas Mann-
Focus on one thing (hints the title of the book) at a time. This is how Keller outlines the process. I made a few changes to direct more towards teaching.
- What’s the one thing you want to accomplish in your classroom some day?
- What does this look like 5 years from now?
- A year?
- What can you do this month to achieve this? Week? Today?
My Mindset Story
My one-day goal/theme is pretty simple: I just want to lead a successful classroom. That is it. Problem is that is not the easiest thing to accomplish. For starters, this goal is a little vague and needs more detail to accomplish, so I placed my focus in one area of my teaching: Differentiation.
My one focus is to differentiate instruction every day. This has led me to some big milestones, but I know there are still more areas I can improve and am excited to continue the journey. I started learning more about how teachers differentiate by talking to colleagues in my building. I also wanted to see what they did to get their students motivated. This brought me to learning our district learning management system (LMS), Class Dojo (go to classdojo.com to learn more about how you can put a fun spin on behavior management for free) and implementing Learning Zones. I learned the SAMR model and began the slow process of using more technology in my classroom.
Once I thought I had pretty well flipped the classroom, I saw many positives, but still was not satisfied with results. I began surveying students to see what they enjoyed doing in and out of the classroom. I analyzed what activities brought the most success and searched what other teachers enjoyed doing in their classroom.
What I found
When student interests line up with the way they take in new information, then incredible things happen. So simple, but also so challenging.
Things to Keep In Mind
The following list is again based off of The One Thing. Seriously peeps, you need to read this book!
- Start saying “no” – remember when you say no to something, you are really saying yes to your “ONE thing”
- Accept Chaos – When you make changes, there will be loose ends that can throw you off your focus. This kind of chaos in unavoidable. Make peace with it and learn to deal with it.
- Manage your energy – your health can not be sacrificed in an attempt to be more successful. “You can not pour from an empty cup.”
- Take control of your surroundings – find the right people and environment that will support you.
Adjust Your Mindset
Stop what you are doing and write down your “One Thing.” A powerful thing happens when you take something from inside your head to pen and paper – It becomes real! Now think how you are going to get there and what you can do today to help you get there.
Next, get a copy of the book. It is available for free on Kindle Unlimited. It would also be super cool if you use the link near the top of this page as I get a small percentage of each sale.
What do you do to keep the right mindset? Leave a comment below and feel free to post any questions you may have!