This week's Food For Thought comes from Tamra Excell as she visits the 2015 iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium. Tamra is the co-founder of CMASAS and Personalized Education Group.
I attended the welcoming reception at the education conference I am at this week – an opportunity for vendors to entice people to their booths with free food. Obviously this works on me because I was there. I enjoy looking for new tools or strategies for our students, so the exhibit hall is a favorite part for me. However, as I went from one booth to another, there was one that I hesitated approaching. The booth was huge, dominating a large portion of the room, but I passed by it several times. I was struggling with the first bullet point on their sign: “deficiency diagnostics.”
Now, I understand the concept of deficiency diagnostics, and the importance of knowing where the gaps are – especially in a mastery-based program like ours. So I forced myself to finally read the rest of the booth’s signs to see if there was anything to redeem the negative feeling.
What’s my hang-up? After years of detoxing kids from negative framing, I find that instead of becoming jaded, I have only become more sensitive. We often get students who see themselves as “deficient” and who need to be “fixed” because of all the things “wrong” about them. It takes time to help them reframe their approach: use their strengths to tackle the challenge areas to the best of their abilities, and focus on their gifts and personal goals to define themselves as the wonderfully unique beings they are.
Maybe there isn’t a better way of saying “deficiency diagnostics” that would fit on a display sign. However, is there a way we can help students recognize and work on areas for growth without them feeling “broken” as a result? Can we – the teachers, parents, and other potential mentors – model this, or are we struggling with this for ourselves?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Also, if you know of any tools, strategies, or other resources that focus on a positive growth mindset, please share them with me.
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