Saturday, September 3, 2016

Changing your Mindset

Last weekend I was scrolling Twitter when I came across a post from Alice Keeler.
One thing that Alice mentions is not jumping into the deep end (which I am known to do with disastrous results). Within that post, she also talks about changing mindset, which reminded me of a question I get often at Skyview:
How do you know all of this?
The teachers that ask me this question do not realize how much I love and am invested in tech. This started at an early age. Like many people my age, Apple IIe computers were installed in schools. My small, tiny elementary school had a full lab of computers, and we all LOVED computer time. I still have fond memories of The Oregon Trail, but even more love for the Munchers series. I also enjoyed Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego (although I was terrible at it). As I got older, and the computers changed, I still enjoyed using them, and to be honest, in weird ways. At home, we didn't have the Internet, but I would practice typing on computers and designing banners using old software. Eventually, in high school, we got a new computer and installed AOL. I think computers became an addiction at an early age! I've just always loved being on computers and always wanted to know more about them and work with them. At Luther, which had quite a progressive educational department, I learned how to use computers in my curriculum. It instilled in me to take risks, try new things, and to stay current with my students and the world.

So this brings me back to the original question, "How do you know all of this?" It's just that I'm always on or around a computer, and if I don't know something, I look it up and figure it out. Tech is just my thing. I never had to change my technology mindset. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by technology from an early age, I like technology, and I was taught to be a risk-taker teacher in college. But I have had to overcome some roadblocks along the way, and realized while justifying to others about why I wouldn't change that these roadblocks were ridiculous and I just needed to change my mind.

So how do we get other teachers to change their mindset? What advice do I have? There are a lot of websites, blogs, and posts about changing one's mindset, but I thought these six steps (from Myrkothum) provided the best advice. So here is what I have to say about these six steps:

Where do I get information for best practices and 21st century skills? Twitter and blogs. I have been on my professional Twitter for two years now, and it has been the best place to get best information. I only follow people that are like-minded and are using Twitter professionally. This keeps my Twitter feed clear and ensures that I am seeing the information that I want to see. Once I started blogging, I use Twitter to find blogs of like-minded people. Just recently, Mari, a teacher in California (@MsVenturino) started a #sunchatblogger Twitter group, so I am even more focused on getting the best information!
Once I followed people on Twitter and blogs to get the best information, I have started "copying" (really role modeling) them. I am taking what they say to heart because I know that they believe that they are using best practices for children. Are they getting results? Yes. So that means I should be using their methods in my classroom.
I had to do that this summer. I kept hearing over and over, "Why aren't you giving students choice?" I had to look at what was stopping me, and when I was able to get over that hurdle, I stopped questioning it. As someone who has always been a bit different in the classroom, it made no sense for me to be hitting these hurdles. I had to examine my current beliefs! (And had to change my mindset!)
We have to do this yearly with our evaluation. This year I really took my evaluation to heart as I wanted to focus more on reflection with my students (and myself). That's when I finally decided to write a blog to be more reflective, and to really think about education and my classroom. That then ties into the next piece... 
I have felt stifled at Skyview for awhile, which I have not kept a secret. That is why I created a professional Twitter, and realized that there are like-minded people around the world! I could say how I felt about education and what I was thinking about a classroom topic... and people agreed with me! Now I am blogging which is still scary to me. But people are reading my blog each week (I see an uptick every Saturday - people are waiting for my next blog post!!!) and they are either interested in what I am thinking or like what I have to say. That is scary and new for someone whose voice was never cared for in the place that she worked. 
Haters gonna hate. That's just how it is. Do what you think is best for your students. If it works, others will follow. That's when your mindset becomes the culture.
Thanks for reading! I'll see you next week :)

- Rachel
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