Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I have been struggling with time this school year.  Specifically, I have been struggling with the 70 minutes allotted for Math instruction in the fourth grade curriculum.  70 minutes times 5 days per week, minus magic shows and fire safety presentations, divided by 27 kids at widely different stages of Math conceptual development, equals not enough time.

I confess I have done my fair share of complaining.  The task seemed unreasonable, even impossible, but sometimes all that you need is a little perspective.  I went to a workshop last week which framed its instructional practices around the idea of mindset (see Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck).  Basically, it is the idea that limitations are psychological  and that it is not the problem, but how we think about the problem, that determines our success.  The concept is illustrated in the following video:

More than anything, the workshop and the video provided an attitude adjustment. I was seeing my 70  minutes in terms of what I couldn't do the same way that the villagers looked at their floating village and decided that having a soccer team was a pipe dream.  The boys proved them wrong.  I got together with my team, rearranged my schedule, refocused my lesson plans, and came up with a strategy that I felt would serve my students better.  The impossible doesn't seem so impossible anymore.  It seems more like an obstacle that can be overcome with imagination and ingenuity. 

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