Monday, March 28, 2016

Mindset in the Classroom

Here at Hazen, we have been discussing the concept of growth vs. fixed mindsets. Recently, Kelly Robinson’s 12th grade English class has been engaged in a unit that addresses this concept through examining the themes  of perception and reality; breaking negative thought, feeling, and behavior patterns; and living intentional, awakened lives.

Seniors in Kelly’s class are reading the novel, Blind Your Ponies, whose main character is Sam Pickett, an English teacher who also coaches the boy's basketball team that has suffered 93 consecutive losses over several years. The novel opens with Sam sitting in his classroom putting finishing touches on a lesson plan on the play Man of La Mancha: “Introduce theme: the problem of appearance and reality.” This is the same major theme addressed in Blind Your Ponies.

After watching the movie version of the play over February break and jotting down some ideas for how to bring it to life and make it relevant to seniors and to Blind Your Ponies, she saw a post on Facebook from her friend, Steve Taubman, that said, "A little Man of La Mancha anyone?" with a quote from the play. She immediately contacted him, told him what she wanted to do, and they set to planning.

Below is a link to Steve Taubman, whose mission is to inspire others to live awakened lives.


Steve had students engage in physical activities that helped them grasp why visualization is important to reaching goals that students sometimes believe they can’t reach. To underscore the theme of perception and reality, he performed magic tricks throughout the lesson.

Here are words from the exit tickets of some of Kelly’s seniors:

"The lines from the play make sense now. 'To bear with unbearable sorrow.' Suffering might be part of my process but I don't have to live a life of suffering."

"It was really powerful to understand that the good qualities I see in the characters in the book are qualities that I either already have but maybe don't realize it or are qualities I aspire to have."

"I thought that overall the biggest thing that stuck out in my mind is that once you truly know what you want to do, life starts giving you opportunities."

"Today's lesson will help me look at my life in an honest way and evaluate if I am where I want to be; if not, how can I change what I'm doing or how I'm thinking?"

"You are only limited to what you believe you are limited to."

"What will be useful going forward in my life is to remember that a lot of things can be controlled or changed by my mindset."

"Be more positive and set no limit to yourself and you can accomplish things beyond what you've dreamed."