On mindsets

I’ve been meaning to read Mindset by Carol Dweck for a long time, but finally am forced to because it’s the first reading for my first class in my (first?) doctoral program.  (Okay, okay, this better be my only doctoral program.)


Anyway, I’m only on page 8 but something hit me so profoundly that I needed to blog about it.

She writes:

To give you a better sense of how the two mindsets work, imagine – as vividly as you can – that you are a young adult having a really bad day:  One day, you go to a class that is really important to you and that you like a lot.  The professor returns the midterm papers to the class.  You got a C+. You’re very disappointed. That evening on the way back to your home, you find that you’ve gotten a parking ticket.  Being really frustrated, you call your best friend to share your experience but are sort of brushed off.

Then she talks about those with a growth mindset vs. those with a . . . set? . . . mindset (I’m not far enough to know what the opposite of growth mindset is called.  [Edit:  Set mindset, ha ha.  I think it’s fixed mindset.]

But I don’t have to imagine her scenario because I have my own:

I was really excited, eager to start the program for my BA in elementary education, which would allow me to eventually become a librarian.  I worked as a secretary and had a great boss, who allowed me to work over lunch or later on some days so I could go to class on others.  Classes started in the city, about 45 minutes away, at 4:30.  These were definitely designed for people already working in a school, rather than a secretary like me!  But I forgot something at home, so I had to go twenty minutes the other way first.  I was scooting along at a clip so I wouldn’t be late, and I got a speeding ticket.  After dealing with that, I sat in my car and cried, and I had to make a decision:  Was I going to go to this first class late, or just forget about the whole thing?  I didn’t have the money for the program and would rely on student loans.  I worked a full-time job and had five kids at home.  Was this smart?  Maybe I should just go home and crawl into bed.

I didn’t.  And I can honestly count that decision as the one that made it so here I sit, reading this book . . . for my doctorate!  Boo-ya!

Hey, did I mention I got into Drake?

I’m entering Drake University’s Education Leadership doctoral program!  I start in August.


Here was my essay:

My name is Christine Sturgeon.  I am a teacher librarian and serve as the current president of the Iowa Association of School Librarians.  In that position, I have become aware of the great shortage of teacher librarians that exists in our state and nation.  I have also learned of the even greater shortage of professors of school librarianship.  This shortage, if not corrected, is a travesty for our children because teacher librarians create programs that engage entire school communities which elevate the learning experience of all (from the “Vision for Iowa’s School Libraries,” available online here).  I want to be a professor of school librarianship, and Drake’s Leadership program will open the door to that possibility.

I am a lifelong learner.  It took me some time for that to  be the case on paper:  21 years to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, with another 18 months to graduate with a Master’s Degree in Library Science.  Even before that, though, I was continually learning and challenging myself.  Since my graduation, I remain an example of lifelong learning to my family, my colleagues, and my wide personal learning network that I have nurtured by attending conferences, serving on boards, and networking on Twitter.

I believe my references have attested to my abilities and vision for education.  At Manson Northwest Webster Schools, where I am in my fourth year as a teacher librarian, I have transformed the school library from a staid place of tradition to a vibrant community of learning inside and outside the school walls.  I have successfully led the change of the physical space at both the elementary and secondary levels.  But more than that, I have shown by example how the library can change lives.  Some examples include creating the first “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program in a school in the state [that I know of!] leading the international student program at the high school, teaching Genius Hour and Genre Reading, facilitating VREP, introducing computer coding at the elementary level, winning grants, doing video production weekly with sixth grade students, and soon, creating and overseeing makerspaces at both the elementary and secondary buildings.

I love being a teacher librarian.  No day is identical, and in so many ways, I am able to write my own job description.  Yet I know I can reach more Iowa students by teaching other teacher librarians.  I already do that in some capacity as IASL president, but I know I can have a greater impact as a college professor.  It is your program that will make that possible.

Thank you very much.