MC Public Schools invest in professional development

Sara Lucero

Guest Columnist

It is hard to believe that it is already the second semester of the 2017-2018 school year. So much has happened and there are so many remarkable things yet to come. Over the last year, Miles City Public Schools has been investing in offering professional development opportunities to staff on an ongoing basis. The purpose is to offer quality, local, ongoing learning opportunities to teachers that are tailored to the needs of our district. Along with this, it is important to offer learning opportunities to the community as well. When teachers were asked what is one idea or area in which they would like more information an overwhelming number of responses pointed to growth mindset.

What is mindset and why does it matter? Carol Dweck, a scientist from Stanford University is a leading researcher on the topic. Mindset is a person’s thoughts about him or herself. She further details two types of mindsets, fixed and growth. Dweck states, “In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.” On the flip side is the growth mindset, “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment,” Dweck writes.

Sounds reasonable, but what does it mean and how can we break it down? In an effort to do just that, we reached out to Trevor Ragan of Train Ugly. Trevor presented information to the community on January 14 and spent the day with staff members on the 15th. Trevor equated mindset to the lives of tigers. It is an analogy that really sticks with you! Trevor equated a fixed mindset to the life of a zoo tiger. Safe, enough food, it is not hard to survive. Alternatively, a growth mindset is the life of a jungle tiger.

This idea resonates, but makes you wonder, do you always have to be a “zoo tiger” or a “jungle tiger”? Thankfully, no! It is important to recognize that a person can’t always be a jungle tiger. People are born with the capacity to get better. People have a certain amount of talent or intelligence that they are born with, but all people have the ability to grow and change. Does this mean that if I put my mind to it, I (Sara Lucero) can play in the NBA? No! But is does mean that I can work out and get stronger or faster. The thought that a person is not a math person or that a person is not a runner is not true. All people have different abilities, but NOT one person has a fixed ability. It is important to step out of a person’s comfort zone and work to be better. This is easier said than done, but it is possible. In order for a person to be a jungle tiger, he or she has to be willing to fall, to fail, to try and try again. That is where learning comes from. Babies learning to walk fall. It is this process that helps them figure it out. Kids do cartwheel after cartwheel before they land on their feet. Growing takes work and it can be slow and tedious, but can be done.

We are so lucky in our schools to see this process in action. We see kids jungle tiger every day, but we also see kids that keep it “safe”. As a fourth grader, our daughter is learning this. Work gets harder and she has to work harder. This is awesome. Hard work and some failure makes her have to grow and adjust, but feels uncomfortable. This is where some great learning takes place. As an adult, it is easy to be a zoo tiger and remain comfortable, but we can grow and change at any age.

Brittany Kiel, a fifth grade teacher at Garfield Elementary School has been working this year to increase the amount of writing her students do in the classroom. It can be scary for kids to write works for others to read and it takes some guts, or a little bit of jungle tiger! Enjoy the work below and remember that it is easy to be a zoo tiger, but it is worth it to live in the jungle for a while!

( Sara Lucero is the principal of Jefferson and Highland Park Elementary schools.)

The Most Important Meal of

the Day

Do you know what the most important meal of the day is? The most important meal of the day is the one that gets you moving. After your body has a good night sleep, your body needs balanced nutrition for energy. The need for balanced nutrition right after sleep makes breakfast the most important meal of the day.

A balanced breakfast provides energy for the day. Not only does it provide us energy, it helps our brain function. To get the nutrients needed for good energy you need to have food from each of the four food groups. Remember eat a healthy breakfast.

By Taylon Richard