Woods' Weekly

Woods' Weekly

Woods' Weekly is written by Superintendent Brian T. Woods and is sent to Northside ISD staff every Monday to keep them updated on local and state education issues.

March 2, 2015     
Good morning! A couple of weekends ago, several of our schools competed in the regional Science Bowl at John Jay HS. Organized and run by Board President Bobby Blount, the contest attracts teams from parochial, private, charter and traditional schools throughout our region. I am proud to say that in the high school division while we did not earn first place, NISD teams garnered slots 2-5. And, in the middle school division, Northside teams earned all four of the top spots with students from Garcia winning both first and second place! The Garcia students and their coach, Shelley Beck, will travel to Washington D.C. in late April to compete at the national level. Just one more example of the great work being done in Northside schools! 
 
Recently I received an email from a very successful Northside teacher talking about her experience working with a challenged group of students and the power of growth mindset. You’ll remember that I have written to you about the work of Carol Dweck in this area. The theory is that if we believe that we can improve our skills and are willing to work at it, we can get better at almost anything. The email is really inspiring to me and reflects what I see in NISD classrooms on a regular basis. Our ability to reflect on our work is critical to continuous improvement. Excerpts from the email are below – adjusted by me to protect the innocent :) 
 
“I just wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments regarding the growth mindset and instilling grit in our students. Until this year, those words meant very little to me. Last summer as I reflected on the challenges I had as a ... teacher, I knew that I had to make some changes in my teaching style/philosophy.
 
 I didn't know it then, but I know now, that I was a teacher with a "fixed" mindset when it came to dealing with students who were reluctant learners-- those students who failed not because of ability, but because of lack of effort. If you have ever sat with a group of ... grade teachers going over data, that always comes up. That was my year last year. I had
 
 
 
a group of students who had never passed a cdb/staar test so by the time they got to 5th grade, they had pretty much given up. They stopped caring. They were used to failing so therefore, they put very little effort on assessments. Some of them had no problem admitting to it. Not knowing what I know now, I allowed that. I didn't know that there was something I could do to help them change their mindset.
 
After reading article after article and watching video after video about the mindset over the summer, I was ready to tackle another challenging year. I took the challenge of taking the "low-low" group that was made up of our spec. ed students and those students who had failed pretty much every math test ever given to them. As expected, their self-esteem and confidence in math was low. We spent the first few days just talking about their feelings about math and trying to get down to the origin of their problems. Many of them said that it felt good to talk about their problems and we immediately bonded and an instant community was created. This was a safe haven for them. This was a place where mistakes were not only accepted but expected.
 
Slowly, my collab. teacher and I started seeing a change in their mindset. They now get excited about math and are practically begging for homework. The transformation has been amazing. They now see math as a challenge and not as a failure. It's all in the mindset!! They are now confident and making great gains.
 
This year I have been honored as ... Teacher of the Year. A few of my students were interviewed for my bio and what one of my math students said was that he loved that I was not embarrassed or afraid to make mistakes and that made him feel comfortable about making mistakes. Another student said that she loved that I was so passionate about teaching. It took a change in my mindset to make this happen.”
 
Finally, for those who have Spring Break next week, I hope you get lots of rest and cram in plenty of fun as well. For those who will continue to work to keep our buildings clean and safe, thank you for all you do! Have a great week!
 
Have a great week!
   
    BTW