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Now that the new year is upon us, it is a great time to reflect on the previous semester.  A big part of reflection is identifying ways in which we can improve and situations we can learn from.  As teachers, we are always learning. Whether it be through continuing education, professional development, or self-reflection, we are continuously looking to improve our craft.  

Before the second semester started, many staff across the country returned early for professional development. Here at Insight School of Kansas (ISKS) and Kansas Virtual Academy (KSVA) we had two days of in-person professional development which were packed with learning opportunities for the staff and were extremely beneficial.  

One session that stood out to me during our PD was a presentation given by K12’s Vice President of Teacher Effectiveness Andrew Ordover. Mr. Ordover presented about fixed and growth mindsets. We discussed how mindsets influence student and teacher performances and how we can help encourage a growth mindset in our classroom. 

Through interactive discussions and scenarios we were able to work in pairs and as a group to share our thoughts and ideas regarding mindsets. We also addressed some culture must-haves in the classroom in order to cultivate a positive environment for growth mindsets. From taking risks to sharing strategies and building excitement around challenges, we were able to identify some key approaches to leverage in our own classrooms.  

Something that I plan to utilize in my classroom this semester is an idea that stemmed from a scenario Mr. Ordover shared with us about taking risks. He told us about a classroom in which the teacher had created such a great atmosphere that the students were happy to share their answers/results whether they were right or wrong. They had no fear or anxiety of being ridiculed for being wrong because the teacher had modeled an environment of acceptance and understanding. She would dive into these answers with the class to find out how the students came to certain conclusions, whether they were right or wrong, to further their learning. She took the time to address the wrong answers instead of just simply dismissing them as wrong. The students were encouraged to analyze the ideas of their peers and to see how they came up with these results. It not only created a safe learning environment, but it also required students to approach the subject matter in a unique way that challenged them. This technique can help to encourage a growth mindset.  

With these new ideas and strategies, our staff completed our two days of professional development excited and ready to begin a new semester.

About The Author

Lauren Weber

Lauren Weber is a high school world history teacher and the social studies department chair at Insight School of Kansas (ISKS). She has been with ISKS since 2009. Lauren graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2006. In 2008 she received her graduate teacher certification in secondary education-social studies, and she is currently working on her master's in administration-building leadership. Lauren enjoys spending time with her family, playing sports with her kids, and baking.

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