Routines & Growth: a Mindset

Recently I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about routines vs. growth. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a creature of habit and love my routines. I walk every morning on the treadmill, I eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every weekday, and I always read before I go to sleep at night. 

My routines help me prioritize what matters. 

But I am also a firm believer in the concept of growth and change. 

As I think about my belief in the importance of growth, I realize that this may be because I have spent my entire career as an educator. In fact, I have spent my entire life around schools.  During high school and college many of my jobs were education related: creative writing teacher at Boys & Girls Club and at a summer camp, a university bookstore employee, and an elementary school buddy. I guess education is in my blood.

I believe that in order to have success at anything you need to be willing to grow and change. One of our jobs as educators is to help students see their potential for growth and understand that trying new things, while at times scary, is the only way to grow.

While it seems that routines and habits may be at odds with a growth mindset, I’ve found that having a clear foundation based on routines and traditions is what allows most of us to be able to grow. 

In just the last week I can think of numerous examples where people I know (myself included) were willing to try new things:

  • Last weekend I spent Saturday at EdCamp Greenville. It would have been easy to stay home and find other ways to spend my day. but I wanted to see what edcamps were about. I wanted to learn something new and see the potential for this type of learning in my own community. Stepping out of my comfort zone allowed me to meet new people and explore new ways of learning.  And as a bonus, I even won a new desk!
  • This past Wednesday my teachers spent their instructional technology professional development morning growing as individuals and as teams. These teachers continuously look for better ways to serve their students. They will step out of their comfort zones to try something new whether that is a new tool like Pear Deck or Edulastic or a new strategy such as reciprocal teaching. Even being willing to learn in a new format of professional development shows a growth mindset.

This week I saw many examples of students being willing to grow:  

  • Our STEM Student Advisory Board students organized an event to welcome our new Class of 2024 “STEMMIES” to the school. For some of our students speaking in front of the entire room or leading a tour of new students was something they had not done before. But I am so proud of them for trying something new. 
  • In an English class, students gave presentations to students and teachers they had never met before. Public speaking is often cited as the number one fear for most people, so it’s amazing that these students were willing to risk failure in order to see success. 
  • Last weekend I attended our school’s AMAZING performance of “Chicago.”  The stage was filled with students who had taken a risk trying out for the show and several for whom this was their first year on stage. I also applaud the growth mindset of our drama director who is a second year teacher and came to teaching as a second career.

I could spend all day listing examples of a growth mindset that I observed this week.

My biggest takeaway as I reflect today is that I don’t want to take the growth mindset for granted. I want to do all I can to encourage growth in the students and teachers I work with as well as in myself.