How would our students respond if we asked them this question:
Can we have growth without change?
Our more concrete thinkers might jump straight to the physical realm, remarking that as plants grow, they inherently change, or as the sun “grows” in the sky, the temperature rises and falls. Our older students, more comfortable with abstract thinking, might start answering that yes, we must change in order to grow.
- We must adjust our study habits (change) in order to elevate our grades (growth).
- We must organize our materials and schedules (change) in order to manage our stress (growth).
- We must compromise in the classroom (change) in order to achieve consensus in a group project (growth).
Ask your students to identify what is needed to change: When are we resistant to it? What has to come first, before we can change? What is the result? How do we know if it was worth it?
Whether you’re reading a class text wherein the protagonist is growing, or you simply wish to give students an opportunity to reflect, consider asking students to privately log an ongoing change they’re pursuing. This can be at a personal or academic level: perhaps they are striving to be less reactive and more proactive; maybe they’re aiming for more free time after school; maybe they’d like to learn a foreign language or an art! Take a few minutes each week and have students log their “changes,” how they’re going, and how those “changes” might need to be changed!
After a few weeks, check in with students in a discussion format. Make it clear that they do not have to share their specific goal in order to contribute, and ask the following questions:
- If your distance to your goal has changed—either further or closer—do you need to adjust your “changes”?
- If you’ve stayed the same, do you need to adjust your goal to something more realistic?
- What have you noticed about yourself since you started paying attention to these changes?
- What have you uncovered about your goals since you started pursuing them? Do you see them differently?
When we ask our students about growth, what we’re really asking them about is change. Once we call attention to this relationship, and celebrate the changes we make in order to grow, it becomes easier to change in the future.
Is there a way you would kick-off this conversation in the classroom? Share with us in the comments below!