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Mindset Education: What No One Is Talking About

Mindset Education: What No One Is Talking About

In teaching the most vulnerable students, I bring a unique perspective. 

Teaching vulnerable students requires educators to look deeper into the struggles & challenges students face. All students who struggle face challenges on various levels. My task is to tease out, explore multiple places where literacy breaks down, and find remedies or interventions to address those issues. 

In a world faced with constant change, an overabundance of information, and expectations that every child should be on grade level every year, the work of both parents and teachers is challenging, to say the least. 

As a parent who has been on the front lines and as a literacy expert, I hope to create discussions that empower parents and teachers to reflect on teaching practices. 

My Personal Reflection & Experience

I didn't always have a growth mindset. I would say that I had a "fixed" mindset, particularly when my son Nicholas was seven years old. 

Nicholas failed first grade. His test scores and limited growth decided he would struggle throughout his life in school. His story and his life taught me so much. 

I have found that it is so easy to "write children off," to say "they are not very smart," yet it is much more challenging to say, “what else do I have to do to teach this child to read." 

This is my starting point for writing in 2022. I hope you join me in this journey. 

I begin by exploring MINDSET. 

Why MINDSET? 

Go to any site for literacy or dyslexia instruction and one finds a range of topics, including Evidence-based Instruction, Structured Literacy, promoting: 

Structured literacy is a comprehensive approach to literacy instruction that research shows is effective for all students and essential for students who have difficulty with reading. This approach addresses all the foundational elements that are critical for reading comprehension. It is characterized by the provision of systematic, explicit instruction that integrates listening, speaking, reading, and writing. It includes instruction for multiple levels of language (see my February 2020 post about language levels), including:

· Phonology (the speech sound system)

· Orthography (the writing system)

· Syntax (the structure of sentences)

· Morphology (the meaningful parts of words)

· Semantics (the relationships among words and their meanings)

· Discourse (the organization of spoken and written communication)

  Or the following: 

Phonics and phonemic awareness; A print-rich environment; Integrated language; explorations in the curriculum; Reading and writing activities: It is more challenging to find research on Dyslexia/literacy Instruction and MINDSET.

 

Why Explore This?

MINDSET lies below the level of consciousness and is referenced as an "implicit belief" that particular messages and narratives can induce beliefs with conscious awareness. e.g., A child failing first grade may never catch up and unconsciously impacts teaching this child. 

MINDSET varies according to a domain - such as intelligence, behavior, or personality. 

According to academic research, MINDSET is a "distal" predictor of outcomes. I loved this sentence - a distal predictor - meaning a distant predictor - away from the central point. The structured literacy, dyslexia resource, the classroom are all major teaching points and the focus of much research and reading.

MINDSET, studied under the terms of "fixed" or "growth." Carol Dweck, the guru on Mindset describes: 

Fixed Mindset: Failure means "I'm not smart." "My main goal is to avoid looking dumb." Or "If I have to try hard, I'm not very smart." 

"From the fixed mindset perspective, the conceptual link between a behavior (e.g., making a mistake) and an immutable character flaw is at the ready." The fixed mindset correlates with social anxiety, perfection, and depression. 


Psychological distress lowers when adults have a "growth mindset." Failure is part of a process, not the end. "Working hard" is positive and will aid you throughout life are both examples of a "growth mindset." It also relates to psychological distress. My YouTube live channel is titled "When Learning is Trauma" where many guests tell of the trauma from their school years

Mindset is Central to teaching

I see MINDSET as underlying all of those central points. 

What we believe impacts how we teach those most vulnerable students and has consequences which reverberate throughout their life. 

My question to the reader, the parent, or the teacher: 

What's your mindset? 

What words bounce around in your subconscious? 

What words do you think about saying in an IEP meeting? 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lois Letchford’s dyslexia came to light at the age of 39, when she faced teaching her seven-year-old non-reading son, Nicholas. Examining her reading failure caused her to adapt and change lessons for her son. The results were dramatic. Lois qualified as a reading specialist to use her non-traditional background, multi-continental experience, and passion to assist other failing students. Her teaching and learning have equipped her with a unique skillset and perspective. As a teacher, she considers herself a “literacy problem-solver.”

Reversed:  A Memoir is her first book. In this story, she details her dyslexia and the journey of her son’s dramatic failure in first grade. She tells of the twist and turns that promoted her passion and her son’s dramatic academic turn-a-round - as in 2018, he received his Ph.D.

You may also contact Lois at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule her for speaking or leadership engagements.

Reversed A Memoir

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