Tag Archives: motivation

Don’t Quit

Lately, as I work on keeping a growth mindset,  I’ve been wondering how fine the line is between persevering and being foolishly stubborn.

As I was preparing for our Parent/Teacher meeting tonight during which we will be discussing Mindset, by Carol Dweck, I came across a video clip on Larry Ferlazzo’s blog that reminded me that the line may be a fine one – but it’s usually much further away then I imagine.


I’m not a huge football fan, and I’m not particularly fond of people yelling at me as a method of encouragement.  But this scene made me wish I could have a coach that would push me past my imagined limits with as much love and determination as the man in Facing Giants.

It also made me wish I had a script writer who could help me create inspiring dialogue for my classroom ;)

For more Growth Mindset Resources, check out this Pinterest Board.

The 5 Word GPS Challenge

When people say, “Begin with the end in mind,” I tend to take that suggestion to the extreme.  I picture a chaotic world where I have just given my life in a failed attempted to save our planet, and people mourning over a tombstone hastily erected in my honor that says, “She cared.”

Dave Burgess (author of Teach Like a Pirate) has a slightly less morbid take on, “Begin with the end in mind.”  Building on an idea by Michael Matera, Burgess suggests that teachers imagine your students using 5 words to describe your class at the end of the school year.  If a word cloud was made from all of those adjectives, what would be the ones that would stand out the most?  


What would be the ones that you would want to stand out the most? That should guide you through your year as you make choices about how to present the curriculum to your students.

Here is a word cloud my 2nd grade GT students made about our class at the end of last school year.  (We made a class word cloud, and then they inserted it into a Pic Collage with photos of their favorite memories of the year.)

WordCloudI loved that “challenging,” “create,” and “imagine” were included.  I thought it was amusing “sudoku” was a favorite activity, and slightly surprised that “grit” made it in there (one of those things I emphasized so much that I thought they were just tuning me out).

For a motivational video from Dave Burgess himself regarding this great way to “begin with the end in mind,” head on over to this link.  “Passion” should definitely be one of the words in his cloud!



Graduation Inspiration

As graduation season rolls around once again, I thought I would compile a list of videos that I’ve found over the years that eloquently describe the hopes and dreams I have for my students in the future. I’ve placed the length of each video beside it.  Not all of these are graduation speeches, but they all give one or more of the following messages: Be Kind, Work Hard, and Make the Most of Your Time and Abilities.  Most of these videos (and many more) can be found on my “Inspirational Videos for Students” Pinterest Board.  As always, please preview any video before you show it to your students.


Thoughts on Kindness from George Saunders (2:12)

Making It from StoryCorps (2:43)

If You’ve Never Failed, You’ve Never Lived (1:16)

Ashton Kutcher’s Teen Choice Award Speech (4:40), Ashton Kutcher on his Teen Choice Speech (3:15) – better for older students

The Time You Have in Jellybeans (2:44)

212: The Extra Degree Inspirational Movie (2:59)

Kid President Graduation Speech (4:12)

The Real Purpose of Your Life (2:18)

These last two are my all-time favorite videos to show departing students:

Jeff Bezos at Princeton (18:44 – his part starts around 6:27)

Mark Bezos: A Life Lesson from a Volunteer Firefighter (4:40)

For more resources, Amy Borovoy curated a wonderful list last May for Edutopia. You can find it here.

Keep Going

Keep Going” is a good video to show that encourages the Growth Mindset.  It is filmed in Lego stop-motion, although adults are the target audience.  Students in 3rd grade and up will understand the message, particularly if you have already been talking about mindsets in class.  I also like that it fits in nicely with the maker ed mantra from Sylvia Libow-Martinez and Gary Stager of, “Think, Make, Improve.”

If you have ever thought about “the terrible gap between what you wanted to do and what you’ve actually done,” then this video will speak to you.  It applies to any attempts we make to achieve a vision, whether as a student, a worker, a spouse, a parent, or any other role in which we have some creative control over the outcome.  We should take any opportunity we receive to revise our first draft instead of walking away in defeat.



Here are some more inspirational videos for teachers and for students. I also have a Growth Mindset Pinterest board here.

Watch Out for Those Pebbles

It’s testing week in our neck of the woods and you can see the stress in the eyes of teachers and students.  It’s difficult to be happy to come to school on days like these.

While going through some of my older posts, I ran across one that I wrote my first year of blogging on the Mini Motivation website.  I had completely forgotten this site existed.  So, I spent 20 minutes refreshing the page to get as much motivation as I could.  Here is one of my favorite quotes that was new to me:

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 9.22.10 PM

If you decide to use the site in your classroom (although you probably can’t do that during testing), I would advise you find a quote first before sharing it with the class on the “big screen.”  It’s possible you may discover one that you don’t find appropriate for your particular audience.

I have more quotations (with prettier graphics) on this Pinterest Board.  And, don’t forget this link to Inspirational Videos for Teachers the next time you need a pick-me-up :)

District Twitter Chats

A couple of weeks ago some of the librarians in our district sent out an idea for a district Twitter chat for our students.  They included a great form that we could use for the students to fill out. I had just participated in a professional chat a few days before, hosted by Todd Nesloney, about creating a positive school culture.  In fact, Todd’s recent #EduLS challenge was to celebrate someone. So, the third prompt on the Twitter sheet appealed to me, “Give a Shout Out to a Teacher!”

As the GT teacher, I have students from all grade levels, so I thought this would be a great opportunity for my classes to perform a random act of kindness for potentially every staff member in the school.

My younger students dictated their Tweets to me, while older students wrote their own and then tweeted them from our class account once I approved them.

Knowing that not many teachers follow our class account, I’ve been collecting the Tweets in Storify each day, and mailing the link to the teachers included in that day’s accolades.  All of the students were allowed to choose who got the shout outs, and most of them chose to recognize two or three staff members each.

Twitter Shoutout

I am trying to encourage the students to name something specific they remember about the person, rather than just saying, “You’re nice.”  It’s been gratifying to see that they are happy to include all staff members – not just classroom teachers.

I want to thank Irene Kistler(@IreneKistler) and Sara Romine (@laffinglibrary) for spreading this idea.  I believe Irene is the author of Twitter Paper.  When I asked her if I could share the idea, she pointed me to a very cool website that inspired her.  It is called KidsEdChatNZ, and has fabulous prompts for their New Zealand student participants each week.

It appears that the New Zealand chat happens at a weekly scheduled time.  However, I think that doing this as a “slow chat” was great so that we could get more participants.

If you are interested, you might also want to check out the “S.C.A.M.P.E.R.” Twitter Chat with students that we did in February.


More Growth Mindset Resources

Albert Einstein Quote


As you may have gathered from yesterday’s “Flappy Bird” post, I am trying very hard to maintain a Growth Mindset, and to foster this thinking in my daughter and students. One of my favorite bloggers, Sonya Terborg, also talks about encouraging a Growth Mindset in her classroom.  One of her ideas, in this post, is to add a Growth Mindset quote to any printed work that she hands out to her students.  Sonya links to this fabulous set of quotes that includes some from Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset.  Sonya also gives examples of some statements that communicate learning goals and expectations that she found on the MindSetWorks site.  In a separate post, Sonya discusses “Developing a Growth Mindset in an Inquiry Based Math Class.”  I love the way she leads up to a weekly math challenge for her students.

Here are some other recent resources I’ve collected about cultivating a Growth Mindset:

“How Not to Raise a Quitter” by Dr. Michele Borba

“Teaching Persistence: How to Develop Student Stamina” by Norene Wiesen

“Impact of Mindset on Teaching and Learning” by Drew Frank