By Mary Mannix, Guest Blogger
Last spring, administrators at Indian Creek School, an All Kinds of Minds School of Distinction, searched for a book for summer reading for the faculty that would be meaningful and relevant to teachers across all three divisions of the school, from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade.
Why Schools for All Kinds of Minds?
Administrators chose Schools for All Kinds of Minds because they believed it would serve as a platform for the faculty to review, reflect upon, and discuss Indian Creek’s ongoing commitment to using the All Kinds of Minds approach to teaching and learning. Group discussions would also provide the opportunity to learn how teachers in each division are using the All Kinds of Minds philosophy and framework in their instructional practice.
All faculty members were given a copy of the book on the last day of school and asked to prepare for small group discussions to be held at the start of the school year.
Framing the Book Study
Ten faculty members, designated as small-group facilitators, developed guiding questions to frame the group discussions. Throughout the summer, they shared their thoughts and reflections on their own blog. As their discussion unfolded, several questions emerged:
- How are teachers nurturing and using students’ strengths and affinities to support learners and learning?
- How has the teacher’s role changed with the All Kinds of Minds approach?
- How do we help students develop metacognition and insight into how they learn best?
The facilitators agreed that the goal of the discussions would be to determine how reading the book would affect our teaching and our students’ learning this school year.
Over 80 faculty members gathered in small groups on the first day of school. A major “aha” for many was the book’s shift away from a focus on students’ weaknesses and the emphasis on using students’ strengths and affinities to support and leverage learning. Teachers perceived this to be an important change in perspective which would allow a broader implementation of the All Kinds of Minds framework and would ultimately improve the learning experience of all students.
“To build a mind requires that you understand it” was an idea that resonated for many teachers.
Teachers also felt that the book validated the importance of investing time and effort into understanding the unique minds in our classrooms. During discussions, it became obvious that while the details of how teachers achieved this goal differed according to the grade level of the students, teachers shared a belief that getting to know students is the best way to support them. “To build a mind requires that you understand it” was an idea that resonated for many teachers.
Book Study Takeaways
Reading Schools for All Kinds of Minds as a faculty allowed us to see clearly that the All Kinds of Minds approach is a thread that weaves itself throughout all three divisions of our school. This way of thinking about teaching and learning allows us to realize the goal set forth in our mission statement: “to provide an academically challenging education in a warm, nurturing environment to a group of students with a wide range of talents and skills.”
Discussing Schools for All Kinds of Minds reenergized our teachers, deepened their understanding, and renewed our commitment as an All Kinds of Minds School of Distinction. It provided a meeting ground in which elementary, middle, and upper school teachers could learn from each other and share insights and ideas. For us, it was the right book for building bridges across three divisions.
What’s next at Indian Creek?
The book discussion was so successful that another has been planned for mid year so teachers can share how they are implementing the ideas they took away from the book. We are focusing on “small-wins” – a concept highlighted throughout the book – and sharing our success stories regularly at faculty meetings. Administrators are also giving teachers an opportunity to visit classrooms across divisions to observe the implementation of All Kinds of Minds strategies and practices.
Mary Mannix is the Lower School Learning Specialist and All Kinds of Minds Coordinator at Indian Creek School in Crownsville, Maryland. She is also a long-time All Kinds of Minds facilitator.
Have any other schools out there engaged in a book study using Schools for All Kinds of Minds? If so, tell us about it! What were your faculty’s “aha’s”? How will you continue to use the book throughout the school year? Questions for Mary? Leave a comment … we’d love to hear from you!
Note from All Kinds of Minds: Did you hear about our free book giveaway? We’ve already given away several books, and this is the last week of our giveaway! Here’s how it works: Each week that we feature a blog post related to Schools for All Kinds of Minds, we’ll be giving away a free, signed copy of the book! To be entered to win this week, you must (1) subscribe to our blog, and (2) share your thoughts about this blog entry by posting a comment. Remember: Non-subscribers are not eligible to win! Subscribing is easy: just look for the “Email Subscription” box to the right. We look forward to hearing from you!
- Tools and templates for using the book with your colleagues, including chapter-by-chapter discussion questions, an action plan template, and more
- Learn more about Indian Creek’s School of Distinction designation
- “Hitting the Books,” an article about the value of teacher book groups from Education Week’s Teacher PD Sourcebook