The Power of Yet

Growing mind
Beth Melton

Each month, SEED Innovation Coaches will choose a resource from the PD Market to highlight as a Featured Resource. Throughout that month, you will have opportunities to participate in interactive activities and earn additional recertification contact hours. During the month of May, Innovation Coach Beth Melton explores Glenn Whitman's blog post on "The Power of Yet." 

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When I became a teacher, I did it because I really thought I could make a difference with kids. I think most of us feel this way when we start. Then, at the end of each school year, we celebrate our successes, try not to think too hard about the students we feel like we didn't reach, close the door and head for the hills. Our school system encourages us to measure our successes and failures with students on a yearly basis - how many reached proficiency, how many mastered the standards, how many are reading on grade level. If we haven't done it by the end of the year, then it's over. What if we shifted our mindset to think about how far each of our learners has come and how sometimes they're just not there... yet.

In this blog post, The Power of Yet, Glenn Whitman claims that "This one word is arguably the most important word for every teacher, school leader and student to meet her or his peak potential as a learner and as an individual."

We've all heard the buzz about creating a "growth mindset" in the classroom - helping students learn "grit." In fact, Whitman's blog post is even tagged #EducationTrends. How can we take this trend and make it into something more, something that truly changes our practice and what happens for our students?

There is power in using the word yet as we reflect on the school year. Which students did you reach this year? Which ones have you not reached... yet? Who has mastered grade level content? Who hasn't... yet? When I start to think about the possibilities of this type of thinking, I picture a school where the divisions of years, grade levels, and classrooms are not as important as the students themselves. Carol Dweck is the prominent researcher on growth mindset in the classroom, and in this TED Talk, she tells us of a school system in which kids only get two grades - Mastered or Not Yet. When we have this mindset, we can start to think of all students as a work in progress, and we can think of ourselves as a team of teachers working to ensure that all students get what they need to be successful - even if they're not there yet. It moves us away from the idea that my job is to start on the first day of school and finish on the last day, and whatever I get done in that time is it - next year I'll move onto a new batch of kids. If we embrace the power of yet, I think we start to think in new ways about summer vacation, collaboration, working with parents, and grades. What would we do if we thought our work and the growth of our students were never done?

Reflect

Think about your classroom and your school. Do you have a "yet sensibility"? Does the school culture embrace this sensibility? Do the students feel this in their daily activities? Does the staff collaborate to remember that kids sometimes just aren't there yet?

Challenge yourself

What specific actions in your school teach and reinforce the idea of "yet" for students? Do you embrace "yet" in your professional practice? What else can you and your school do to help students and teachers to have a "yet sensibility"?

Consider

  • incorporating opportunities for students to revise their work
  • including students in meaningful ongoing goal setting and self-assessment
  • explicitly teaching and discussing the idea of "yet" with students (check out this fun video for kids)
  • finding new ways to collaborate with colleagues to continue learning from year to year

Interact

I'd like to invite you to continue this conversation with me and your colleagues - get inspired by sharing new ideas with one another and exploring your questions related to "The Power of Yet." Throughout the month of May we'll be collaborating and diving deeper to explore this thought-provoking blog post, as well as Carol Dweck's TED Talk. 

Comment - Share your musings, wonderings, and ideas, and respond to others in the comment section of this blog post. Respond to the reflections and challenge questions above; share what you do in your classroom/school to support "yet;" ask questions that you're pondering about next steps; or whatever inspires you!