Posted on October 16, 2016
A couple weeks ago, during a conversation with a grandparent regarding our own professional development day, the grandparent remarked, "Have a fun day growing!" At the time, there wasn't anything out of the ordinary about the comment, yet something about the word choice itself, struck me and caused me to mentally stop and pause. My first thoughts were, "We grow everyday, not just on this one day." and "It is actually not fun meeting with just adults and no children." The children are the ones who make our work joyous, who make the day fly by! However, as I continued thinking about the words that I had used when explaining to this grandparent what we would be doing, it dawned on me that I too valued this PD day as a day of growing ourselves as teachers and that this cycle of parallel and continuous learning and growth between the teachers and the children is really what makes an educational institution continue to not only progress, but to be progressive.
I'd like to share with you three elements of quality learning that we focused on that day:
A Growth Mindset--the idea that we can grow our brain's capacity to learn and solve problems, that abilities could be developed, therefore engaging deeply and learning from process based on Carol Dweck's research, where focus on growing effort, strategy, engagement, perseverance, persistence, and resilience are mindsets that foster success.
Flow--a model of optimal experience based on the work of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In other words, "being in the zone" and what constitutes characteristics of flow--intense and focused concentration, merging of action and awareness, loss of self-consciousness, a sense of control in what you are trying to accomplish, losing track of time, intrinsically rewarding.
Self-Determination theory-- three concepts- autonomy, relatedness, and competence in relation to motivation. The idea that - having choice or control over actions, having a sense of belonging to the people or world around you, and having a sense of confidence and competence leads to better performance, persistence and creativity.
We (the teachers) looked at these components through the lens of teaching, but all the above could be translated and applied to all aspects of daily life, regardless of age, grade, or occupation. As I continued to reflect upon our work throughout the week with your children, I felt it important to share the focus of this PD day with you (our parents) because while your child may think he/she just "plays" for the day, if you look at daily life in preschool through this lens, I think it makes visible our purpose, aim, and intent in "growing" all aspects of your child even more vibrant.