Teaching That Changes Lives | Marilee G. Adams

Summary of: Teaching That Changes Lives: 12 Mindset Tools for Igniting the Love of Learning
By: Marilee G. Adams


Discover the profound impact that mindsets can have on the world of teaching with our summary of ‘Teaching That Changes Lives: 12 Mindset Tools for Igniting the Love of Learning’ by Marilee G. Adams. This insightful book traverses the journey of the protagonist, Emma Shepherd, as she navigates the challenges of her teaching career and comes to realize the importance of communication, connection, and fostering intrinsic motivation in her students. Follow Emma’s transformation as she learns from her mentor, Dr. Sophie Goodwin, about navigating different paths in life – the Learner mindset and the Judger mindset – and how both teachers and students can break free from the detrimental patterns of judgment. We’ll also cover the practical tools, such as the Choice Map, for fostering Learner mindsets and fostering a positive, engaging classroom environment.

Finding Passion in Teaching

Emma Shepherd questions her decision to teach when she faces challenges during her second year with 34 students and clashes with her co-teacher. Seeking a solution, she meets with an education professor who also happens to be her former mentor. Through this mentorship, she learns that teaching is not just about subject matter, it’s about connecting with and inspiring students’ intrinsic motivation. Shepherd rediscovers her passion for teaching and gains a new perspective on what it takes to be an effective educator.

The Power of Mindset

In “The Choice Map,” Goodwin shows Shepherd how all students have the ability to choose between a Learner or Judger mindset. Goodwin emphasizes that the mindset a teacher presents creates the climate in the classroom and that without connectedness, students will struggle to learn. Goodwin also reminds Shepherd that a Learner mindset is more positive and accepting while a Judger mindset is more negative and critical. Shepherd confesses her current frustrations to Goodwin and seeks help to switch back to a Learner mindset. Goodwin reminds her that she can’t control other people or events but can control her reaction to them.

Mindset Evaluation

Assessing personal mindset is essential to develop and grow in life. The book suggests asking certain self-reflective questions to gauge your present mentality. Learner questions focus on personal growth and development while Judger questions indicate a stagnant mindset. By asking questions like ‘what can I learn?’ and ‘what does the future hold?’ a growth-centric mindset is established, whereas questions like ‘why bother?’ and ‘what’s wrong with me?’ demonstrate a stagnant attitude. Accordingly, being mindful of these thought patterns can help individuals attain a growth mindset and foster personal development.

Learner vs Judger Mind-Sets

In his book, Goodwin introduces the concepts of Learner and Judger mind-sets and how they affect relationships. Judgers are critical, blame-oriented and set in their ways, while Learners are accepting, thoughtful and flexible. Learners use both-and thinking, while Judgers tend towards either-or thinking. Learner relationships are collaborative and win-win oriented, while Judger relationships are dismissive and win-lose oriented. Judgers use positional conversation and can become defensive. Understanding the difference between these mind-sets can lead to better communication and more positive relationships.

Teaching with the Right Mindset

In this book, the author shares a personal experience of how a former teacher taught her “how to learn” by asking questions that got her mind working. She also discusses how the mindset affects what students feel is expected of them and how encouraged they’ll be about learning to use their own minds. Shepherd, a teacher herself, introduces the concept of a Choice Map on the bulletin board, which helps students differentiate between Learners and Judgers. The Choice Map is designed to develop internal controls and make their own choices. Shepherd realizes the significance of developing self-awareness and invites her colleague Carmen Santiago, to join her in co-teaching the sixth-grade class. Santiago shared the same feelings about the “Behavior Chart” and the Choice Map became a hit. In the end, the author emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and the ability to choose one’s own mindset – to make a difference in students’ lives.

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