Rachel Okun is changing mindsets at St. John's Lane Elementary School

Posted at 8:36 AM, May 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-26 08:40:05-04

Mindset Monday happens every week at St. John's Lane Elementary School, like Taco Tuesday or Casual Friday. Teachers share stories of famous failures or inspirational quotes to start the students off on the right foot.

"Then they reflect on that. How can this inspire you? How can you show grit this week?" said Rachel Okun, a fourth grade teacher.

Mindset Monday is part of a larger concept called "Growth Mindset." It stems from the books "Mindset" by psychologist Carol Dweck and "Mindset in the Classroom" by Mary Cay Ricci.

Okun says it looks into a fixed mindset vs. a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is a "can" vs. "can't" attitude, while a growth mindset looks at all the ways success can be accomplished.

Okun led the charge in bringing the idea of "Growth Mindset" to each classroom at St. John's Lane.

"Our brains are like muscles" said Okun. "Just like if you work out, your muscles can get stronger. If you practice with things, you persevere, you show grit trying different strategies, your brain can also grow." 

In Okun's classroom, the "Growth Mindset" starts with goal setting. She gives her students strategies about how to accomplish them.

"Its speaking more toward the process rather than the product and to help them see that relationship of I do well, or I can grow, or I can increase in these things when I do something about it."

Okun also brought in parents to get their feedback on using the "Growth Mindset" in the classroom and continuing it at home.

This concept is fairly new at St. John's Lane, yet principal Vicky Sarro says she is seeing big improvements in the students, thanks in part to Okun's efforts.

"Growth Mindset has made a big difference in helping students understand that they can reach great heights by understanding that there is no limit to their potential," said Sarro.

"[Okun] has worked very hard to help them understand how much they can achieve on any given task."

Okun says her ultimate goal is get each and every one of her students excited to come to school.

"If we can teach students to be life long learners and to love learning, what the possibilities of what they can do after school or during school with that are just great."