Beginning a new school year always comes with mixed feelings. It is exciting to start a new year, with a fresh group of young minds in front of us. However, the start of the school means creating new routines, and fostering a community where students feel safe and comfortable.

This summer I had the opportunity of working with another Vermont teacher, Christine Hertz. I attended her workshop at the Vermont Reads Summer Institute. Christine has just published a  fantastic book focused on Growth Mindset. The idea that when we as humans are in a safe and comfortable environment, there is always room to grow. Even when we are experienced at something – such as reading – we can always learn more and improve on our current skills. In my classroom I always explain to students how it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s important to use these mistakes as a learning opportunity.

As teachers how can we cultivate a culture of risk taking and growth? Christine and her coauthor Kristine Mraz explain that there are five growth mindset stances that help us to all become more joyful and independent learners. These five stances are: empathy, flexibility, persistence, resilience and optimism. 

This got me thinking – these are going to be the first five vocabulary words I teach this school year. I will focus on one word per week, creating specific activities to help build word knowledge, community and independence. I will read aloud different picture books that incorporate each stance and help students to see these traits in action.

For specific Word Learning activities (many printable) visit my classroom website by clicking here.

Follow the authors on Twitter: Christine Hertz (@christine_hertz) and Kristine Mraz (@MrazKristine)