Opening Minds by Peter H. Johnston
Before I begin my reflection about Opening Minds by Peter H. Johnston, I would like to thank Cathy Mere (@CathyMere) at Reflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community for hosting this week's #cyberPD, Jill Fisch (@jillfisch) at My Primary Passion who will be hosting July 18th (chapters 4-6) and finally Laura Komos (@Komos72) at Our Camp Read-A-Lot who will be hosting July 25th (Chapters 7-9).
On page seven there is a cartoon with the caption, "Honey, when you grow up I want you to be assertive, independent and strong-willed. But while you're a kid, I want you to be passive pliable and obedient."
When I saw/read this, I immediately thought of my own daughter and how important it is that she doesn't get a teacher that thinks this way. She is and always has been a very assertive, out spoken and sometimes demanding child. Some day, this personality will get her far, but not in elementary school. Often times this is the kind of personality that drives teachers crazy and gets on their last nerve. This was a great reminder that we all need to respect, value, appreciate and nurture all personality types and traits.
"We open our mouths and our parents or our previous teachers come out. Changing our talk requires gaining a sense of what we are doing, our options, their consequences, and why we make the choices we make."
How often does this happen has educators. It is easier to practice what has been ingrained into us than to venture out of our comfort zone. As a parent and an educator, I want to do better. The key for me to doing better and changing is reading, reflection on what I am doing based on what I have read and making the needed changes.
I loved this quote that ended the chapter:
"Make no mistake, when we are teaching for today, we are teaching into tomorrow."
Chapter two was spent discussing dynamic-learning frame verses a fixed-performance frame. I spent much of the chapter reflecting on me as a person and an educator and what kind of frame I have. I found myself thinking of instances where I would consider myself both.
I really found the three major points of influence for helping children develop dynamic-learning framework useful:
- "what we choose to say when children are successful or unsuccessful at something--when we give children feedback or praise" (p. 18)
- "the way we frame activities" (p. 18)
- "what we explicitly teach children about how people's brains and minds work" (p. 18)
A final take-away from chapter two is something that I look forward to saying to parents at our Curriculum Night. I plan on sharing that second graders, like everyone make mistakes. We will not be concentrating on what the mistake is, but what can be learned and what can be done differently. In the throws of the day this is something I need to remind myself too. I know at times, I find myself concentrating on what a student did, not on a learning experience that they can take-away from.
Chapter 3Throughout chapter three, I kept thinking about the importance of guiding children through questions. The questions I ask and how I phrase them is important in promoting students to take on a dynamic-learning framework. In addition, by guiding children through questioning, they are naturally engaged in discovery, analyzing and thinking about what they are doing and what they can change to become better.
Here are some key questions/phrases I took away in the chapter:
- How did you do that?
- How did you know that?
- How could we figure that out?
- What are you thinking?
- Thanks for teaching us....
"Asking children, "How did you do that?" gives them a reason to retrace their steps in accomplishing something" (p. 32).
A final thought:
Already, this book is transforming the way I look at what I am doing and how I can change and implement those changes into the talk in my classroom. I look forward to continue reading to help guide my thinking and change.