We firmly believe that every teacher wants the very best for their students. When I chose education as my profession was when I realized that those who had the biggest impact on my life, other than my family and friends, were my teachers. Almost every one of them believed in me. As a teacher, I could bring something unique to young people in an important time of formulation. I could imbue in my students a mindset of curiosity and wonder—sparking their passion to learn, grow and be the best they could be. Our education project in Chester, PA exemplifies that a teacher’s commitment to believe in every student’s innate ability can be the access to bringing out their best.
An essential element in bringing out the best of anyone is questioning the certainty of the unique perceptions held by every individual. What we think of as possible often limits what we try to do. It often only takes one person believing in us as we develop to change our thinking. It can be one teacher’s expression of encouragement, telling us that we can even though we think we can’t. In that interaction, we can change our thinking and envision new opportunity. Something else becomes possible.
Inside of each of us is the potential to excel and contribute to the betterment of our communities and our world. The Possibility Fund’s theory of change is based on the platform that peoples’ mindsets are malleable and fundamentally open to change. Without first changing the way we relate to difficult challenges, applying new resources and remedies will only yield incremental results. To achieve sustainable change, requires a fundamental transformation of our thinking.
Educators believe that an “I can” mindset has great potential not only for themselves, but also for their students1 in the classroom. Many teachers feel that if they express a belief in their students’ potential, they are more likely to succeed. In February, we launched the Breakthrough Mindset Curriculum™ with teachers and staff in Toby Farms Middle School in Chester, PA. The curriculum uses evidenced-based approaches to build mindsets that promote the belief in new levels of student success.
Because a teacher believed in me, I saw the possibility and moved my mindset from “maybe I can” to “I will” make it happen. I became resolved that, in the face of whatever circumstances I faced, I could, and would, accomplish something I had thought impossible to achieve. With their support, I could nurture that kernel of belief as it turned into curiosity and the desire to explore, grow, learn and achieve. And I chose to pass that belief on to everyone in my own classroom.
Dweck, C. 2006. The New Psychology of Success, Random House