DLMOOC: Academic Mindsets and Open Connections

I’m working to get back into the mix of the Deeper Learning MOOC, after having a slight detour away from it, and the topic has shifted to Academic Mindsets. The chart above from DLMOOC shows a bit of the thinking in relation to what the term means around how we view ourselves and our work within the academic sphere.

I’m all for stepping back and thinking of how we teach and what and where we teach through these lens although (and here I will use the old teacher complaint) the reality is that most of us struggle with the time to actually do that and see this kind of inquiry as a luxury at odds with the typical day. With lesson planning, communicating with parents, navigating shifting curriculum standards, enrichment/intervention, interactions with administration, and more, taking a breath to think through academic mindsets often feels like something easily put to the side in the “now” of the teaching moment that require immediate attention. I appreciate the DLMOOC has not quite forced me, but given me an opportunity, to mull the concept of academic mindsets over. I’m not done thinking yet, either. Consider this post just a marker for now.

The DLMOOC Tweet of the Week asked us to share a thought about this and to give an example in our own professional lives of this concept. Here’s what I wrote:

I have also begun to watch some of the archived discussions on a tool called Zaption, which creates a “tour” of longer videos (so, curated video segments). I like the tool but wish I could add my own thoughts and comments, and felt like I was not part of the conversation. It’s funny how much I now expect that — that I can be part of the conversation. That’s part of my own mindset, I suppose, as a learner myself and as a teacher. I anticipate entry points and get disappointed when they are not available.

The video I have been watching is about Academic Mindsets and the Common Core, (with Camille Farrington, Eduardo Briceño, Carissa Romero, and Rob Riordan) and where those ideas might mesh (or not). The main element of the discussions was about assessment and competencies of students over time. The majority of the speakers here seem strongly supportive of the Common Core in connections to nurturing mindsets of students. I don’t know. I see some openings for deeper learning but wonder about how the standards are being integrated and how the standardized testing will assess it. We can talk again after PARCC and Smarter Balance have been rolled out and we see what’s in there.

I appreciate the discussions around writing, however, and the theme of “purpose” of learning for the individual student and away from the purpose of standardized testing data points. The last speaker in the video provided some realistic balance, for me, about how to frame learning in the Common Core era, as we move from the hypothetical learning space to the real classrooms.

What this discussion around Academic Mindsets comes down to for me is … does the place where I teach my sixth graders every day still enrich my academic mindset and is the environment such that it continues to challenge me as a professional? Are there structures and supports in place for that kind of growth? For the most part, I give a qualified “yes” on that question, but I also realize how much I turn to outside elements (the National Writing Project, online spaces, etc.) for those kinds of opportunities. I suspect that if I did not have those places to turn, I might think differently, and might view my teaching career differently, too.

Peace (in the set of mind),


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