Yes, you are on the right blog post…chapter 5 of our summer book study, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, but today, I am taking a different approach…5 Rules for the Business of Teaching.
Week 5 of our summer book study and chapter 5 is titled Business: Mindset and Leadership. I know my take on this chapter is going to be very different, so please check out
Jen from Kinder Drama to read their take on this chapter as well!
Chapter 5 focuses on business and is full of examples of fixed-mindset business people, who had the me-me-me-me-me syndrome. Many of them also had a smugness and elitist attitude that eventually became their downfall. I couldn’t help but think of teachers and the amazing and HUGE network we now have available literally at our fingertips! Teaching has really become a business. Now, before you go and slay me on social media, do me a favor and read the rest of this post!
Teaching ‘used’ to be a fairly isolated career choice. Years ago, the biggest outside source was The Mailbox monthly teachers magazine! (Some of you may know what I am talking about, while others may have no clue…lol!) I graduated from UNLV College of Education in 2004, but we were still getting ideas from magazines and books. Even though we had the internet and used it, there was nowhere near the resources that there are today. I ended up taking several years off to have and raise my three little ones. When I decided to come back in 2012, I was blown away by the amount of virtual professional development available online. While being a stay-at-home mom, I had become an avid blogger and so, I was excited to see that there were ‘teacher-bloggers’ out there! I was new to teaching Kindergarten and wanted to learn as much as I could. My mentor teacher had been in Kindergarten for years and was very experienced, but I craved hands-on ideas and more ‘unconventional’ ways of teaching kindergarten.
I started following several blogs and began to admire and respect some well-known teacher bloggers. I was (and still am) addicted to Pinterest and would pin hundreds of lesson ideas and ‘dream’ classrooms. I was looking forward to the day that I could actually meet and connect with some of these teachers. I finally got my chance in the summer of 2013, at the SDE I Teach K conference. I was lucky enough that my school paid for my tuition and since I already live here in Las Vegas, where they were holding it, I didn’t have to leave my family. I was beyond excited to finally meet some of the amazing teachers I had been following online. I am by no means a wallflower, so I had no problem going up and introducing myself and expressing my joy at meeting them. Most of them seemed nice…until the Teacher Meet Up. I was invited to the meet up by a super friendly and nice teacher (who I am still fond of today). I had been to other blogging conferences (not education related) and ignorantly expected the same atmosphere. Being very new to Kindergarten and not knowing anyone, nor having ‘my own tribe’, I went around trying to mingle and talk about our ‘common denominator’…KINDERGARTEN. It was not well received. The pivotal moment for me was when I approached a teacher presenter, whom I had attended their session earlier in the day. I told her how much I appreciated her ideas and loved her session. I asked if we could take a picture together and she obliged. After taking the picture, I told her how I had just finished my first year teaching Kindergarten and how I loved those little kids. She smiled and said her and her friend had to go. As they walked away, I heard her mocking me, as they both laughed hysterically.
I did not recount this story for you to feel sorry for me or for you to judge the situation. My purpose is to remind us ALL to be nice. If you are a blogger, seller on TPT, or have any type of social media following…BE NICE. Just because someone is not a blogger, or hasn’t been teaching for x amount of years, or YOU don’t know them…is not a reason to not be nice. We promote acceptance and being nice in our classrooms, but then act the opposite in our own social elements. My personal opinion is if you put yourself out there as an ‘education figure’, then you have an obligation to be nice and not an elitist or condescending to others. I determined that day, that I would make my best effort to NEVER treat another professional with disdain or consider them a bother.
How does this fit in to chapter 5? Almost all of the examples of fixed-mindset business ‘moguls’ lived in this world, where they were superior and that the need or feelings of the ‘lesser people’ can be ignored. (pg 123) Many of them were controlling and abusive and only wanted to elevate themselves. If it weren’t for the ‘little workers’, the business would not be viable. Thus, without other teachers reading our blogs, attending our PD sessions, or buying our products on TPT, teacherprenuers would not have a platform to share their knowledge and passion. Basically, in a nutshell…BE NICE.
You have not arrived at the education mecca and pinnacle of master teacher land. I am amazed at how fast our education system changes. And of course, technology is growing faster than we can keep up, so it seems like we are always behind. Never give up and never quit growing and learning, even if you are the teacher. Carol Dweck talks about Alan Wurtzel, the CEO of Circuit City and how he constantly wanted to gown and learn. He considered himself a ‘plow horse’ and hardworking guy, who took a company that was close to bankruptcy and turned it around! (pg 110-111) Which side of the presenters platform are you on? I have had the opportunity to be a presenter for my district, but I try and be a learner too, I don’t want to get the attitude that I know it all, or what else is there to learn? Knowledge is powerful and let’s be better for our customers!!
Our students and their families are our customers! I know it’s ‘easier’ to print worksheets, or to follow the plan that you have had for the last 10 years, but put yourself on the other side of the counter. Would you like to drive a brand new Chrysler that looks like it came from 1960? Change is good! Healthy water moves and changes, stagnant water is still and full of unseen dangers!! Stand up for what you believe in, when it comes to your students. What is best for your students? Maybe your pacing needs to get faster…or maybe slower. Please don’t dismiss ideas and automatically say, ‘that won’t work in MY classroom.” Remember…our students are our customers and we need to give them our best!!
I cannot begin to tell you the many times I have been in a training or professional development and have heard a teacher say that it will never work. How do they know? Have they tried it? Quit making excuses! Sometimes a student is not learning they way WE want them to learn, so instead of recommending them for special education, why don’t we evaluate OUR teaching and strategies and adjust to their needs. What about when our administrator gives ‘constructive’ feedback? Are you going to give an excuse as to why you didn’t or why you can’t? Or are you going to take it and make a plan of action? They choice is yours…stop making excuses and accept feedback!
I was fascinated by the topic of groupthink, that Carol Dweck talks about on pgs 134-136. Groupthink can happen when people put unlimited faith in a talented leader (pg 134), or it can happen when the group gets carried away with its brilliance and superiority (pg 135). The elitist leader rejects any one who has an opposing thought or idea. Elitist also have their ‘elite’ group and anyone not a part of it, is considered subordinate. Don’t be an elitist! Don’t be afraid to challenge or stand up for your beliefs, especially since your students are YOUR customers! It IS possible to challenge ideas or concepts and still be a team player. You are an educated professional and have a strong desire to do what is best for your students and classroom!
So there we are…my take on chapter 5 of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Education has evolved into a business and it’s my job to make sure that my ‘business’ is successful! These 5 Rules for the Business of Teaching are strong reminders to me, of not only what I should do and be in my classroom, but how I should be and acto toward other educators in the big wide world of education! Thanks for joining me today and don’t forget to check out my friends Greg and Jen and their latest post on chapter 5!