Look, we know we want the kids to have a growth mindset and to embrace a “Culture of Error“– in which kids like struggle and challenge and in which getting it wrong is a key tool for getting it right.
We know we want the kids to think, “Oh, good. This is going to be hard!” not “Oh, no. This is going to be hard.” We know it’s great for teachers to say things to the kids like what Bob Zimmerli says in one of the clips in TLaC 2.0, “I’m so glad you made that mistake. It’s going to help me to help you.”
But arguably even more important to a school’s effectiveness is the growth mindset among the adults. Do THEY love struggle. Do THEY embrace error and think it’s safe and beneficial to have their colleagues and school leaders see them struggle?
That’s the key question, and here’s a test I would provide. If you had a teacher (or a coach) teaching something new and difficult for the first time and you asked to drop in, would he or she be more likely to say: “I’ve never taught this before, please don’t come watch me?” or “I’ve never taught this before, please come watch me?”*
* Coda: Just chatted briefly with Larry Ferlazzo about this post and have realized that it could be read as challenging teachers directly to adopt more of a growth mindset. I suppose there’s an element of that for all of us to consider in our lives but my point (and I think Larry’s too) is that this is first and foremost a school culture issue–an important question administrators should ask themselves about their building. We know as teachers that if the kids try to hide their struggles it will be 10x harder to help them grow. My point is that it’s the same for adults. If teachers try to hide the inherent struggle of doing one to the most difficult jobs in our society it will be 10x harder to help them be the best they can be. If we build cultures where our teachers trust that we will support them and make them better when we see them doing the hard parts of the job, then we’ll be on our way.