Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Unexpected Growth Mindset Moment {SOL 5.17.16}

I stood at the entrance gate to the rink and watched them walk toward me, their ankles wobbling and the expressions on their faces revealing their uncertainty.

Most of my 4th graders had never ice skated before. Sure, it sounded fun, but now that the skates were laced up and the rink was before them, many began to doubt themselves.

"You've got this," I told them as I helped them move forward toward the rink.

They walked through the gate, stepped onto the ice, and began to shuffle their feet.  The rink's wall provided the support many of them needed to get going.
After our last student had stepped onto the ice, I stood back and watched.

Some students began to let go of the wall and tried to skate unsupported. Many fell, but all got back up, often with the help of friends.

Some students began to skate in partnerships, linking elbows or holding hands to help each other move around the rink.

Some students held tight to the wall, moving at a snail's pace...but moving nonetheless.

Before long, many (if not most) of the students had left the wall and had picked up speed. Some tried doing something fancy -- skating backwards, taking little jumps, mini-spins.  

You could literally feel the excitement in the air as these kiddos realized they could skate and that it was actually fun!

As I stood on the safety of the hard concrete and took it all in, I realized that what I was seeing before me was true growth mindset at work. It was the microcosm of our classroom applied to a new experience.

I stood as the encourager, choosing words that supported and reminded the kids of their ability to succeed. 

Everyone began using the wall as a support, but each let go at their own time.  Some took off right away, getting the hang of it and challenging themselves with fancier moves.  Others needed to hold on to the wall for a bit longer as they found their own groove that led to their success. Many needed the help of a friend to get going.

Words of "I can't do this" changed to "Look at me!"

I couldn't have planned this lesson if I tried.


  1. I can feel the joy through your words! AMAZING!!

  2. Kids are such risk takers and embrace the growth mindset without hesitation. You were a great cheerleader for them!

  3. Every time it's ""I can't do this" changed to "Look at me!"' is like a muscle grew, Jennifer. How wonderful to read this. My granddaughter Ingrid, at six fought skiing that first day up, and after knowing "I can do this", she made great progress this year. But her mom & I think the feeling spread in other parts of her life, too. That growth mindset is powerful.

  4. What a great story - a true lesson in the power of "I can!"

  5. What a great story - a true lesson in the power of "I can!"

  6. Your story reminded me of my days as a classroom teacher when, within the first month of school, I would take my students indoor rock climbing. They encouraged each other to try again and cheered when someone made it to the top. We learned a lot about dealing with adversity and not letting it stop us. For the rest of that year, "remember the edge," was all the encouragement that was needed to not give up or quite anything that seemed challenging.


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