Realistic expectations aid growth mindset.

In my last blog post, I said talked about the need to believe that every one of your students, whether teens or adults, can and will learn to write competently in your class. 

One of the ways you can make it easier to get all your students writing competently before your course is over is to help them set realistic expectations at the very beginning of the course.

The first thing students need to know is what kind of writing you expect them to do. 

Teens’ first question is, "Why do we need to know this stuff?"

Adults have a different question. Their first question is, "Why do I need to know this stuff?"

You may be able to foist off 14-year-olds a line about college requirements and the creative thinking employers want today. Employed adults won’t fall for it. They expect to acquire skills to use right away on their jobs.

You’d better make sure your "here’s why" rings true to the bookkeeper who is studying to be a CPA and to the LPN studying to be a RN.

FYI: You’ll have far more credibility with adult students if you worked one summer in a human resources office than if your on-the-job writing experience is limited to writing lesson plans.

Growth mindset for writing teachers

Carol Dweck showed that a growth mindset can be taught and that it matters.

If you teach teens and adults, that doesn’t mean you can tell students they can learn to write competently and think you’ve done your bit toward promoting a growth mindset.

If you are paid to teach expository writing to teens or adults, you must:

  • Believe that every one of them can and will learn to write competently in your class.
  • Convince every one of them that they can and will learn to write competently in your class.
  • Teach every one of them to write competently in your class.

Your mindset matters.

You had better be focused on growing each of your students into a competent expository writer before your class is over.

If that’s not your mindset, then you are not earning your paycheck.

Mind the mindset gap

Systemic changes are hard, as the decades-long attempts by businesses to replace hierarchies with more functional organizations shows.

The stumbling blocks to systemic business changes, according to folks who have tried it are

  • Teaching new hires how to use an unfamiliar system can frustrate people when they are already stressed.
  • Teaching people how to implement changes takes time and costs money.
  • Learning a new system requires a new mindset.

The same difficulties that crop up in businesses when they attempt some sweeping change also crop up in schools when they attempt some sweeping change—whether its blended learning, Common Core State Standards, or a new bell schedule.

(Those difficulties may even crop up when you try to implement some change in your classroom: “Ms. Inky Fingers never made us do this!”)

How can we help our students, our peers, our staff or whoever is impacted by proposed systemic changes to develop a pro-change mindset?

This is a question I’m wrestling with in a couple different settings.

If you have any answers, I’d love to hear about your problem and how you worked it out.