Level Up.

I can’t say that Tik-Tok trends are ever a good thing…but sometimes, I can work with the sounds they give my students. One of those popular and trending sounds? Ciara’s song “Level Up.” In an attempt to reach my students and show them the importance of developing a growth mindset and becoming self-efficacious, I use pieces of this trending song.

“Them old mistakes are gone, and I won’t do them no more.”

Okay, so the grammar isn’t the best. Sure, it makes me cringe as an English teacher…but if you sing it, it makes it a little more bearable (at least that’s what I tell myself).

When I introduce the idea of self-efficacy to my students, the looks on their face is something between a bewildered billy goat and a startled squirrel. A few students try to repeat the word, a few close their eyes, and some even laugh because they are nervous about what giant word I am throwing their way this time. As an English teacher, I begin working this term into our daily vocabulary early on. However, across the curriculum in other classes, they often stick with telling students to have a growth mindset.

One of the first few activities my students do in August is complete a self-efficacy questionnaire. This allows students to determine if they have a growth mindset or if they have a fixed mindset. Before I explain what these terms are, students are familiar with them as the walls in my classroom are covered with various posters reminding them to have a growth mindset.

In order for students to be successful in my classroom, or in the real world, they have to develop self-efficacy. As I remind them often:

“I won’t be around to wipe your tush for you forever.”

(Of course, I usually almost always say “hold your hand” instead of “wipe your tush”, but you know…)

In a book study suggested by my district, I read “The Skills that Matter” by Patricia Noonan and Amy Gaumer Erickson. In that book, I was able to take away several important aspects in regards to how my students’ brains work. I knew I was struggling to keep students motivated when it came time to read Shakespeare or write a difficult research paper, but I found myself taking a lot of that blame. Maybe it’s me?

After diving into the studies and data in this book, I quickly realized the only fault of mine was not focusing on helping students develop self-efficacy. So, I slowly started incorporating small, but impactful, activities into my lessons to promote students’ growth mindset. Not once did I change what I was teaching, but instead I changed how.

As a teacher, I don’t care if my students remember if Romeo was a Capulet or a Montague, but I do care if they remember how difficult they thought reading Shakespeare was and how they overcame that challenge.

By helping my students become self-efficacious learners, I am also helping make my own life easier. Students develop independence and confidence in their abilities, allowing me more time to focus on other needs. Aside from that, it’s also one of those rewarding moments in teaching when you get to witness your students growing and spreading their wings all on their own.

The good news for you? I’ve compiled an ever-growing list of my growth mindset/self-efficacy resources that is free for the taking!

So, as a teacher, it’s time for you to “level up, level up, level up” your instruction and expectations of your students!


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