Get smart.

{You are about to be warned}
Warning: This post has a lot of words.
{You have been warned.}

Today, I want to share something I learned in school.

I hear you gasping.

I've been in grad school for two years now, and I've never ever shared something I've learned (not that I can remember, anyway.)

But I learned about something today that I thought was really interesting, and applies just as much to parenting as it does to teaching (which, actually, a lot of my degree work has). So I thought I'd share, just in case anyone is interested.

It's called growth mindset, and it has to do with how we praise our kids and how that praise can affect them.

(If you're totally bored already, go away. Seriously, I'm not going to force you to read this and I'll never know if you choose to or not. No harm, no foul. Come back tomorrow. Bye!)

So here's the scenario (based on an actual study): you're in a classroom. You break the kids up into two groups. You give each group the same task to complete. It's fairly easy and they all perform well on it.

To Group 1, you say something like: "Wow! You did really great on this! You must be really smart!"

To Group 2, you say something like: "Wow! You did really great on this! You must have worked really hard!"

Not a huge difference, right? Well....let's talk about each group individually.

Group 1 thinks they're really smart. When asked about the task, they say that they really enjoyed it and want to take more work home and show their parents.

THEN they are given a new task that isn't super easy. They struggle with it quite a bit more than they did with the first task and get more problems wrong. When asked about this task, they say they didn't like it at all, they don't want to take more work home to practice, and that they don't think they're smart anymore.

They are also asked to write about this second, hard task (including their actual "score" on it), so that this write-up can be sent to another anonymous student. More than 40% of Group 1 flat out lies about their score, saying it was much higher than it actually was.

THEN they're given a new task on the same level of difficulty as the first task (easy). They do not do nearly as well on this one as they did on the first easy task.

Group 2 thinks they performed well on the task because they worked hard on it. When asked about the task, they also say that they really enjoyed it and want to take more work home and show their parents.

THEN Group 2 gets the harder task. They too find it much more challenging and perform much worse on it. However, when they are asked about this task, they say they still liked it and are still eager to take more work home, practice, and show their parents. Unlike the first group, they don't think they're dumb after "failing" at the second task, and think that they could learn to do the second task well with some practice. Only a few Group 2 students exaggerate their scores when asked to share them with someone else.

THEN Group 2 gets the third task (the easy stuff). They perform better than they did the first time.

The point here is to praise the process, not the ability.

If you praise a kid's intelligence, they'll accept your praise. They'll believe that they're "smart." It'll be great...until there's something they can't do (which, hello, is going to happen). It'll lead to them being anxious and stressed, frequently worried about proving that they are "smart." And when they can't do something, they'll think they're not smart anymore. They won't like learning, they'll like "being smart." They also think intelligence is an innate ability that cannot be built or enhanced - no matter what they do. AND they are more likely to cheat or lie to try to make sure that are always seen as smart.

If, on the other hand, you praise the kid's process - how hard he/she worked and the effort he/she put into the work - they will learn that you can work hard to make something happen. They will be more willing to try new tasks. They will develop the idea that intelligence can be developed and enhanced through effort. Ultimately, this is more likely to create a happy child (and a successful one) because that child will be motivated to work hard and to love learning.

This is the theory, anyway.

It makes a lot of sense to me, although I'd also say you have to make sure that you stay focused on teaching what needs to be taught as well. You wouldn't say "Hey, you put that 2+2=5! I like the hard work you put into figuring that out." So I guess I should say that when praise is appropriate, you should praise effort and not intelligence.

So what do you think of this, since you've made it this far? Good for you, by the way, for making it all the way through. I give you a cyber-pat on the back.

I guess...

Now that I have an 8 pack of fun-sized Mounds to keep me company (I am all about Mounds these days)... that Maddy is asleep.... that I finished the (super awesome) invitations for my party next weekend... that I got a good chunk of content writing done for Dallin (but not all of it)...

...and now that my certification exam is less than 20 hours away...

...I guess....

I'll start studying for it.

Just breathe case you haven't read between the lines....or haven't read the lines themselves...

school is killing me.

It's been especially tough this past week or so, when I've...

-had so much I wanted to do and just haven't been able to do it all-

-been trying like crazy to play catch up with all things school-

-been pretty upset with myself, realizing that it's my own fault that I have to play catch up-

Seriously, part of me feels like I should have been working insanely hard to do a better job of keeping up with all aspects of my life.

But then the other part of me reminds me that working any harder could have easily resulted in my death, and possibly the death of a few innocent bystanders. Honestly though, I don't think I'd be happy with myself if I had put any more time into school and taken time away from other things. My life would be way off balance, and I wouldn't be cool with that.

I've been stretched to the breaking point on so many levels, and I'm r.e.a.d.y for it to be over.

And then I remember that it is almost over...

and I decide that I'm just going to...

-have some chips ahoy and milk (baby's favorite snack) before bed-

-wake up early and exercise (you read that right)-

-tackle tomorrow, and then the day after that...and repeat-

-insert positive thought here-

Happy Not Good Friday

I don't have the day off because it's Good Friday. I have the day off because it's "Spring Holiday."

Either way, I have the day off from student teaching.

I know I've told you absolutely nothing about my student teaching experience, and for that, I apologize. Let's just say it's been a roller coaster. Some days I feel like I would love love love to have my own classroom and teach little kiddos all day. Some days I feel like I would rather...not.

But hey, I'm five weeks into it. Three more to go.

And I have the day off today.

And it's Earth Day. Fun fact.

Since we didn't have school today, I talked to the class about Earth Day yesterday. Here's how our discussion started:

Me: So who knows what we celebrate on Earth Day?

Little girl who is pretty much the cutest/sweetest child in the class, with a lovely little smile on her face: It's to celebrate when Jesus died on the cross for our sins!

Me: No. Anyone else?

HAHA. Ah, me. Looking back on it now I probably sounded a bit rude to her. I just tried to avoid her answer entirely. But I still have no idea how I should have handled that. I probably should have said something like, "Well, sweetie, I think you're thinking of Easter, which is also this weekend, but we can't talk about that in school because there might be one or two children in here whose parents would be extremely upset if we did. They're the same ones who insist that we call tomorrow "Spring Holiday" instead of "Good Friday" or "Easter Break." I like to call that 'insisting on political correctness to the point of stupidity,' and it's a problem that a lot of people have. But you are right that that is what we celebrate on Easter, which 75% of Americans celebrate, so good for you! Now, who knows about Earth Day?"

Hmm...not sure how that would have worked out either.

The point is, I don't have to go in today. Which means I can tackle my ever growing list of stuff that I have/want to do. Which is awesome.

Finally write a blog post after a three-week hiatus: check.

Guess what I just found out.

Remember how Baby Girl is due August 8?

Keep that in mind.

With that in mind, see what you think about this:

My Pre-K student teaching is during the second summer term at ASU (this is the only time it's offered). This is from July 5 to August 5.

And may I quote: "This is a full-time field experience, so you need to plan accordingly."

{It might be a little late for that.}

Also, since I'll be done with school, the student health insurance that I'm on will go bye-bye on August 15 (happy birthday to me).

In summary:

No early baby. No late baby. 10 day window, baby.

Thank you, that is all.

What I learned

I gotta say...

graduation has kind of left me feeling like a 4th grader coming home from school. Mom asks, "What did you learn today?" and I lazily reply, "Nothing."

Not that I actually learned nothing in my four years of undergraduate studies. It's just that it's kind of hard to really pinpoint the different levels of knowledge in my head. How much more is in there today than was in there 4 years ago?

"What did you learn?"

Well, I'm proud to say, I figured it out.

The answer came while I was taking a trip down memory lane, using a handy new tool on my ASU profile page that let me quickly scroll through every semester of my college life and see what classes I took and what grade I got in each.

*Confessionary side note: I've always been a grade-aholic. Dallin doesn't "play that game," as he says, but I do. I keep tabs on my grades. Laugh if you want, but hey, if that helped me get my Summa Cum Laude, I'm laughing right along with you. Side note over.*

So anyway, looking through my grades, I quickly notice the lowest grade I ever received in all my four years: a B-. As in, B minus. I hated that grade. Those minuses bring you down, man.

Then I noticed what class I got that hateful letter-with-a-negative-mathematical-sign in. And I remember...I hated that class. It didn't interest me. I didn't like or agree with the teacher. The content was rather pointless. And it was one of those huge classes where all we really could do was listen to lectures accompanied by power point presentations. Boring. Poorly presented. Just an all-around bad fit for me.

You see where I'm going with this?

I didn't like this class, so I didn't really try. Sure, at the time I probably thought my grade was totally unfair, but really, it wasn't. I didn't really study for the tests. I didn't go to class if I had any kind of basic excuse to avoid it. And I didn't care. I really didn't care.

If I had put in the effort, I would have received a better grade. Bottom line.

It seems so obvious - what you put into something is what you take away. Output equals input. You're not going to benefit from anything - a class, a project, a goal, a marriage, a church calling, a cookie recipe - without putting the right amount of effort into it. And the more you put in, the more you'll take out.

As I looked through the rest of my classes, I remembered some of the ones that I loved. Those classes that had me reading new and exciting things, discussing ideas with my other classmates, and hanging on the teacher's every word because you could just tell they loved what they were talking about. My grades? A's, baby.

The point is, I can do it. Because I can work hard. I can find the time to do the important things. Somehow, what I give is enough. If I devote time and energy to something that is important to me, it will pay off.

Like, oh, my degree.

No, a Bachelor's degree in English Literature isn't exactly a one-way ticket to a successful, prosperous lifestyle. But it's a subject that I love. It's something that I've put a lot of work into. No, I didn't have to memorize dates, charts, equations or theories, but I got to think and analyze and bring my own thoughts and experiences into a wonderful world of literature that was just waiting for me to visit.

And even if, right now, I can't really see how this is going to pay off, I know it will. I've been taught the importance of education since I was little, and I truly believe that any kind of knowledge and truth that I have received will benefit me. Because I did my part.

Now it's time to do my part in other places too. To put more effort into my marriage, my home, my job, my preparations for motherhood, my church calling. And, of course, to keep putting effort into my education. To never, ever, stop learning.

Because hey, someone's going to ask me what I learned when I get home.