The Battle of the Mindsets… Growth vs. Fixed

In June, I decided that I wanted to step outside my boundaries and challenge myself physically. With not much prior experience, I convinced my husband to sign up for a century ride (100 miles) with me. A century ride is to a cyclist as a marathon is to a runner. Before I knew it I was registered to participate in Spin for Kids Century Ride on October 18…. and I didn’t even have a road bike!! After buying a bike, I was ready to start training, or so I thought.

Over the next 14 weeks training, I experienced many emotions. I could not tell you how many times I wanted to throw in the towel. (My fixed mindset that I am an nonathletic person kept showing it’s ugly face.) I was determined that with the right mindset, I could conquer this challenge.

The week leading up to the ride was one of constant anxiety. The morning of the ride, I had a revelation. My insecurities, anxiety and fear toward my ride were not any different than many children and/or adult’s feelings toward math. Holy Cow!! Sure, I have experienced nervousness with certain situations over the years, but never to this extreme. My wheels kept turning…

I have always been a advocate for math education and teaching math in such a way that students can engage in problem solving situations with enough cognitive dissonance to keep them hungry for more. One who teaches in such a way that student construct their own conceptual and procedural understanding based on what I put in their environment.

However, in my current situation, it didn’t matter who told me, “You can do it!”, “You are ready for this!”, “You will be fine.” my feelings of anxiety would not go away. It took me actually believing in myself, having a growth mindset, and actually accomplishing the challenge for the feelings to subside. To be honest, I think I would have to do it several more times for my emotions to drastically lessen.

My century ride reminded me of the following:

  • A fixed mindset is hard to change, but is 100% possible.
  • Everyone needs cheerleaders. I will begin to make it a conscious effort to be everyone’s cheerleader everyday.
  • Perseverance pays off! Student’s need to reap the benefits of perseverance over, and over again so they will begin to automatically persevere through any situation handed to them.
  • Anxiety in Math has be recognized and fostered among all teachers! The phrase, “I am not a Math person.” is NOT acceptable!!!!!! As educators, we must give students the opportunities to persevere through tasks and feel accomplished many times before the anxiety previously associated will dissipate.
  • WOWZERS… Anxiety is something serious and hard to overcome.

Yes. I did finish my first ever 100 mile bike ride! I am thankful for the opportunity to ride, to raise money for an incredible children’s camp, and the emotions that came with the experience. It is from those emotions, I was able to truly experience what many students feel when they walk into a math classroom.

Now, I step up to another challenge…. Helping others find their growth mindset and helping students throw away their anxieties in math.

About Lisa Anglea

Wife. K-5 Math Coach. Lifelong Learner
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