I’m sure you hear this all day from students. Sometimes from parents, staff members and it even dribbles out of your mouth too! The words? Ike Ant, or I Can’t.

There is so much data on Growth Mindset, Fixed Mindset, Positivity and Failing Forward, but are we really getting the reach we need? Are we actually changing our next generation, but focusing on #Yet, #Can, #Will and the fact that it is alright to #Fail, but not give up?

Like millions (literally) of us that have read Carol Dweck’s amazing work Mindset, it has opened us up to Growth and Fixed Mindsets, or ways we are influenced by our talents and/or abilities. Is this enough?

Similar to a plethora of educators, I work to instill a Growth Mindset in all the students, teachers, parents, and friends that I run into. Am I perfect at it? No, not YET. But everyday I continue the struggle to show 800 students, 50 staff members and countless parents, that YET is possible. Why is this so difficult? What am I doing wrong? Is it how the brain is wired?

One line in Dweck’s book really stands out to me, “With the right mindset, you can motivate those you lead, teach, and love—to transform their lives and your own.” What really resonates with me is the word MOTIVATE. As educators, we are many things, and one of them without a doubt is a MOTIVATOR. How many times have you tried to coerce, encourage, bribe, trick, inspire and “fire up” a student? Many, I’m sure. With our passion as educators and servants, comes a responsibility to MOTIVATE and remove the I CAN’T, and transform it into I WILL TRY, or OK! We all have the magic my friends, and at times, we may need to fall upon a colleague to reignite our own mindset!

This is especially true when it comes to mathematics. In my mind, there is no one more qualified to give us concrete, easy to understand data on the power of mindsets for math than Jo Boaler. This amazing Stanford researcher, professor, and expert on math gives us the science behind the “WHY” so many students hate and fail in mathematics. The old “I’m not a math person” is really just an excuse or fable! We can continue to learn, and change our brains with the correct mindset through a very advanced age. Why not start early with students?

From her book, Boaler finds that “Scores of students hate and fear math, so they end up leaving school without an understanding of basic mathematical concepts”. Why? well, timed tests and pushing speed over mastery is one reason. Math anxiety is real, but so many educators fail to understand, or to follow the research and shove the timed math facts, or math minutes down our children’s throats! Check out her YOUCUBED resources for a plethora of amazing studies and REAL data about it!

I’m not blaming anyone on this, as intentional or instilled with malice, but come on folks, we know what is right and wrong. The data and evidence is clear, some now are just refusing to acknowledge it with ” Oh, I still believe timed tests work”, or “I really see the value in timed math facts”. Really? Do you see the struggle at home and the pure, anguish and anxiety? Believe me, I’ve lived it.

So, now what? Well, talk to a Growth Mindset adopter. Follow Jo Boaler, Carol Dweck, Alice Keeler and so many others that have actual data, research and proof about what works, not just 20 years of “My experience in the classroom shows me”.
#AllKids matter. Not some. Not most, but ALL. Don’t we ask hundreds, of thousands of students to change, grow and fail or try, every single day? With that being said, maybe it’s time for the adults to do the same thing!

Go. Get it my friends. Get rid of the Ike Ant (I Can’t) and MOTIVATE our youth with I can, I will, Not Yet, and Heck to the Yes!