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.