January 4

Happy New Year to our St. Michael’s community! As we return to school and begin again, we have the opportunity to regroup and recharge as we launch into the second half of our school year. I have commented many times that the academic calendar allows time for goals to be set and then reset once again following our Christmas holiday. I always find that my goals for the year that began in August can always use a bit of revision as we pass the midpoint. So what can that look like for our students and for those of us who work so closely with them?

This year, we have introduced and talked frequently of the idea of a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset in our students. The author of Mindset, Carol Dweck, says that a growth mindset assumes that intelligence and other qualities, abilities, and talents can be developed with effort, learning, and dedication. So, for instance, if you hear yourself thinking, “I can’t do this,” tell yourself instead, “I can’t do this YET.” Or if a student says, “What grade did I get?” we can encourage them to ask, “What can I do to improve?” There is power in the word “YET”. Learning is a process, and perfection should not be expected as new knowledge is introduced and material is mastered. With a growth mindset, what was once viewed as impossible can become possible. Feeling that one is unable to do something can work to one’s becoming able. The Little Blue Engine became successful because of a growth mindset…”I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”

As our students reset their goals for the rest of the school year, I encourage you to ask them questions that prompt a growth mindset toward learning: “What did you do today that made you think hard?” “What happened today that made you keep going?” “What will you do to improve your work or your talent?” “What will you do to solve this problem?” These and other probing questions encourage our students to be actively engaged in the work that they do, taking charge of their growth and success. The old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again” is as true today as years ago. That’s the power of YET.

Margaret Moore

Head of School