This year I transferred to a new school site, Steele Lane Elementary. My new principal, Mr. Noble, introduced a couple of new ideas this year to encourage a growth mindset among the staff, the Steele Lane License and Curiosity Cards.
Steele Lane License
At our first staff meeting of the year Mr. Noble introduced something that I think is a wonderful idea to inspire teachers to maintain their own growth mindset. He gave each of us a “Steele Lane License”.
The license gives us permission to try new things, explore, take risks, and fail knowing that we will be supported by our principal regardless of the outcome. Now, six months later you can still find the license posted behind most teachers’ desks. We were also encouraged to give our students the same license in our classrooms.
On days when lessons just aren’t working and I decide to try something else mid-lesson or I try something new and it totally fails. I find that having that outspoken support helps me to be willing to try it again, do it differently, and keep growing as an educator.
One thing that many elementary schools lack is easy opportunities to observe other teachers teach. In middle and high school teachers have their prep period and while that isn’t necessarily the ideal time to observe it is at least available every day. As an elementary teacher you are lucky if you get prep time twice a week, not every school has that. It makes it really hard to go and observe other teachers teaching. This year my principal decided to help change that.
Two months into the year he introduced Curiosity Cards. At one of the staff meetings everyone got handed a “Curiosity Card”. The idea behind the card is that you fill out the card with what or who you want to observe be it a specific person “my grade level partner” or topic “4th grade writers workshop”. Then Mr. Noble will arrange with the other teacher to schedule your visit then he will cover your class so that you can go observe. When he comes to cover your class he will either have your students continue what you normally have them do at that time or will bring an activity to do with the students. Either way no lesson plans are required in order to leave your students to go observe.
So far a bunch of teachers have taken him up on the opportunity and all of the feedback that I have heard has been positive. I have to say that I really like that we are being supported as professionals and as life long learners. As a newer teacher, knowing that multi-decade veteran teachers are taking this opportunity to go observe others and grow really encourages me to do the same.