Sunday, August 30, 2015

What's Your Growth Mindset?

What's Your Growth Mindset?

Embrace the challenge and reach your potential!

August 12, 2015
Kelly MendozaDirector of Professional Development, Common Sense Education

This school year, Common Sense Education is focusing on this powerful question: What's your growth mindset? You may have heard of "growth mindset," a term coined by Dr. Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, in her bestselling book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In it, Dweck talks about the difference between a "fixed mindset," in which people perceive abilities and skills as inherent or permanent, versus a "growth mindset," which focuses on developing and "stretching" through a love of learning and embracing challenge. Dweck's message is that we can change our mindset, motivating ourselves -- and the kids in our lives -- to fulfill our potential.
I believe having a growth mindset is essential to integrating technology into teaching and learning, and for digital citizenship. Technology is ever changing and dynamic … there's always something new to learn. Believing we can grow, learn new skills, and face challenges with enthusiasm is essential to thriving in a 21st-century classroom. So this school year, we are challenging ourselves -- and educators -- to focus on growth mindset. We're framing growth mindset around five themes (our "5 Cs"), making explicit connections to digital teaching and learning:
  • Curiosity (Aug-Sept): What does it mean to be a curious learner?
  • Collaboration (Oct-Nov): How can I collaborate in meaningful ways?
  • Creativity (Dec-Jan):  How can I inspire creativity in myself and my students?
  • Courage (Feb-March): How can I practice courage to try new things as an educator?
  • Celebration (April-May): How do I celebrate my success … and the successes of others?
As you can see, we'll be focusing on a new theme every two months. Be on the lookout for blog posts, Top Picks and tools, and community discussions on Graphite related to these themes.
We'll also be hosting NEW monthly Twitter chats using the hashtag #GrowthMindset connected to these themes. The chats will occur on the 4th Monday of each month throughout the school year. Please mark your calendar for the first #GrowthMindset chat on the topic of curiosity, focusing on the question "How can I foster curiosity in my students?"
Join the first #GrowthMindset chat on Monday, August 24, at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET, led by me,@kellymendoza.
I look forward to hearing about ways you are "stretching" your growth mindset, and encourage you to join this challenge!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Food for Thought: Sharing data on Best School in the Universe

Dear all,

Hope you had a good week. It was so good to see Ashley and Anna back in school this week and looking well after their motor bike accident.  Time seems to be flying by faster than normal this year. It is hard to believe that next week is the start of week four. Our traffic plan seemed to work quite well on Monday, Thursday and Friday mornings but on Tuesday and Wednesday due to restrictions imposed by the Metro construction we had serious problems. It is a shame that more of our parents don’t use the time to come in school grab a coffee or attend a mindfulness session instead of becoming angry and frustrated sat in traffic queues that none of us can control.

I wanted to let you know that we received a health warning about Dengue in Vietnam. This is what it says:

“In Brief:
A significant increase in dengue cases has been reported in several parts of Vietnam. The disease is spread by mosquitoes, and is present in both rural and urban or city areas. Dengue can cause a range of symptoms and has no particular treatment. Some people, especially those who have been infected with dengue before, get a more severe form that can lead to fatal complications. There is no vaccine.


  • When outdoors, wear clothing that covers most of your body (long sleeves, long pants, socks).
  • Use an effective insect repellent that contains DEET, Picaridin, PMD, or IR3535.
  • Ensure windows are covered with fly-wire. Use "knock-down" insect spray to kill mosquitoes in your room.
  • Choose air conditioned accommodation if possible.
  • Seek medical attention if you develop a high fever, especially if you suffer "rigors" (shaking) or a rash.

More Detail
Dengue activity continues to increase in many states. Nationally, around 25,000 cases have been confirmed since the beginning of 2015, higher than that observed for the same period in 2014. At least 12 cases have been fatal. Frequent heavy rainfall may be contributing to the persistence of the outbreak. Dengue is consistently present in Vietnam. “

There has been concerns expressed in the past about the number of plants that we have in our classrooms. However, if you look carefully at this diagram you can see that dengue mosquitoes need a week from laying eggs in water till the emergence of the adult mosquito. Hence it is important that we don’t over water our plants and have them constantly sitting on a tray of water.

Last weekend a teacher sent me information about an activity that they felt was so engaging, energizing and empowering for her students that they wanted to miss lunch to continue their work. It was described as one of those ‘best in the universe’ moments. Since then several other teachers and administrators have also described ‘best in the universe ‘moments when everything goes perfectly. These comments gave me an idea that was further cemented by this article that describes the importance of collecting data that creates a holistic view of our students so that we can get to really know them as individuals. This fits perfectly with our mission because it enables us to truly welcome our students to class whilst being able to use our students likes and dislikes individualizing their learning when necessary.

Hence what I have decided to do is create a simple template that can be a live document and shared on Google.  This will allow us the opportunity to keep a record of these moments as they occur during the year. Hopefully this will stop us forgetting these good moments, in our busy school days, and provide a resource for others to look and say, wow that was a good idea/ activity. I think I’d like to try that. I would appreciate your ideas for creating the columns for the template. What do you thinks should be recorded, so that it is easy and efficient to complete whilst at the same time showing the reader what went well and why? Please email me your thoughts.

Wishing you a good weekend,






Sunday, August 23, 2015

Food for Thought: Coddling of the American Mind

Dear all,
Hope you are having a good weekend. Thanks to all of you attended the Primary and Secondary Meet the Homeroom, Specialists and Advisory teachers as you have helped to set the scene for the parents and received plenty of positive comments.
This week’s Food for Thought is something that all is a concern for us all and links very much to “grit”, resilience, and mindset. It is something that I began to become more and more aware of after my move to Asia in 2000. For the last 25 years there has been a growing movement of ‘helicopter parenting’ involving parents becoming overbearingly protective of their daughter’s and son’s lives, both in and out of school. Of course this has created a generation of students who have not only lacked independence but also resilience and the need to fight their own battles. I have read many article about this phenomena and witnessed it countless times in discussion with 21st century parents; however I’d rarely considered the longer term impact of this behavior on students, colleges and universities as they aged and graduated from high school. Although this article is about a new concept called “micro aggression” and the psychological well-being of modern university students,  it makes me wonder if the psychological fragility that is emerging in students has far deeper causes that go back to home, school and childhood. This is a long article so I will cease my thoughts now and leave it up to you to draw you r own conclusions, but it does raises questions about whether we should be sending our creative and free thinking students who enjoy intellectual provocations to study in an increasingly constrained environment in the USA.
Have a good afternoon,
The Coddling of the American Mind

”Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.
Two terms have risen quickly from obscurity into common campus parlance. Microaggressions are small actions or word choices that seem on their face to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a kind of violence nonetheless. For example, by some campus guidelines, it is a microaggression to ask an Asian American or Latino American “Where were you born?,” because this implies that he or she is not a real American. Trigger warnings are alerts that professors are expected to issue if something in a course might cause a strong emotional response. For example, some students have called for warnings that Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart describes racial violence and that F. Scott Fitzgerald’sThe Great Gatsby portrays misogyny and physical abuse, so that students who have been previously victimized by racism or domestic violence can choose to avoid these works, which they believe might “trigger” a recurrence of past trauma.
Some recent campus actions border on the surreal. In April, at Brandeis University, the Asian American student association sought to raise awareness of microaggressions against Asians through an installation on the steps of an academic hall. The installation gave examples of microaggressions such as “Aren’t you supposed to be good at math?” and “I’m colorblind! I don’t see race.” But a backlash arose among other Asian American students, who felt that the display itself was a microaggression. The association removed the installation, and its president wrote an e-mail to the entire student body apologizing to anyone who was “triggered or hurt by the content of the microaggressions.”

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Food for Thought: Growth Mindset and ISHCMC Mission


Dear all,

Thanks to everyone for such a smooth start to the year. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly our students settle back to school over the long vacation.  

Hope you are all having a good weekend. Thanks to all of you who attended the “Back to School” party on Friday. It was good to see teachers and support staff enjoying themselves together at one function. Hopefully we can arrange more joint events as the year progresses.

Some of you might have seen this Carol Dweck TED talk, ‘the power of believing that you can improve’ before. However, I wanted to share it with you because it reinforces beautifully the thinking behind several parts of our school mission; achievement culture; and principals of learning. In particular it provides further support for the use of choice words, the importance of encouraging students to set goals, realize it’s never too late to learn, and the need for us to challenge students so they develop their abilities through a growth mindset. Dweck clearly points to the need for careful use of praise that will encourage our students to make an effort and desire to challenge in order for them to improve their performance. Hence it is critical that we think carefully about how we give feedback to our students both in class and on written assignments. It can make all the difference in moving students from a fixed to a growth.

Have a good Sunday,


Tip: If you find Prof Dweck’s speed of talk too slow you can go to the settings cog on the right hand side of the YouTube page and increase the speed to 1.5.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Food for Thought: Building on Mindfulness workshops

Dear all,

I have decided to keep our Food for Thought going for those who want to read it.

I thought that following last week’s mindfulness workshops  I would continue to focus on this topic and provide links to Hang’s drop box information, an interesting article that questions the way we live our lives and a short video that also encourages us to connect with our minds. Following Hang and Sarah’s work I have been thinking about how we as a community of teachers can maintain our positive and mindful attitudes. I have come to the conclusion that to stay strong as individuals we are all going to have stand up when colleagues and friends aren’t mindful and allow their ego’s to try and pass on negativity (gossip) to us and then in a non-confrontational manner point out their action and request that they do not involve you in their ego’s struggle. If we all do this I am confident that we can move our ISHCMC culture to be more positive and supportive for all our community.

Here are a few words from Hang and Sarah and links to their drop box materials.

"Kindly share our deepest thanks to everyone for creating such an open, welcoming and calm practice space. Sarah and I have been inspired by so many teachers and staff at the retreat. We are grateful to have met so many loving and compassionate people who understand this life-long mindful journey. Happy teachers will change the world. I can feel that it's going to be a fantastic school year for many of the teachers, staff and their students this year as they continue to incorporate mindfulness into their daily life.  As mentioned, we'll be back on September 22nd and would love to drop in and run a mindfulness practice (refresher) for about 90 minutes or so. Payment in hugs are welcome. 

After the retreat we had a number of requests for a Yoga & Mindfulness Retreat in Mui Ne that coincides with the ISHCMC holiday week in October ie. Sat. Oct. 17 - Wed. Oct. 21. We are pleased to say that Full Moon Village Resort is happy to accommodate. To keep costs down, we are suggested to have a minimum of 10 participants to get a group discount. To register we kindly request a deposit by August 31 to secure the accommodation. Note: ground transportation from and to ISHCMC is included in the fee. Families are welcome. Please joyfully follow this link for cost and details:

As mentioned, below are the Dropbox links. 

Mindfulness Song Files

Mindfulness Song Lyrics


Deep Relaxation (for adults)

Hugging Meditation

A Practice Handbook for New and Growing Sanghas

PowerPoints of Both Days
Day 1

Day 2

Bell of Mindfulness app on Google Chrome

The short article that I want to share is, Life is too short for a full-time job. Too short, and too precious, again it links with mindfulness, how we spend our time, what we focus upon in our lives and some of the thinking that Hang shared with us last week. Should we be following the same conveyor belt as everyone else? Is it the right path for us as individuals? Have we actually stopped to think about how we are living our lives?

“Time unwatched is its own treasure, gracious host to conversations that drift and swoop, afternoons that stretch into evenings, dinners that slur into a last coffee.
And, if you’re like me, and can spend entire winters watching tongues of fire flicker in an open fireplace, as Bill Watterson said, “there’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”
But you don’t have to listen to me, part-time mountain dweller and full-time maverick. Here’s Carlos Slim, the world’s second richest man: “We should be working only 3 days a week.” It is time, he says, for a radical overhaul of our working lives. We need more time to relax, for quality of life.”

My final food for thought for this week is a short video (2 minutes)  about a 60 year old skate boarder who is using his hobby to investigate the quietness of his mind. This video is a testament to mind over matter, shows us that age really doesn’t mean anything and again links to mindfulness. For us older member of our community it also reminds us that you’re only as old as you feel!

Finally I sincerely wish you all the best for the year ahead. We have the potential to be the best school in the universe, it is up to us to believe and make this happen.

Enjoy your year and have fun teaching our students.