Student Choice Within the Classroom = Positive Mindset

I want to begin this post by saying that we all teach within our comfort zones. We ultimately teach the way that we feel is best, so this is simply something that I have found that works for me, and I hope that maybe what I have done will inspire you to give it a try, as well!
The words "positive mindset" seem to be huge buzz words in the world of education right now. The fact is, we have more than likely been practicing positive mindset methods within the walls of our classroom for quite some time, but now we simply have a title for it! 
Positive mindset can appear many different ways. It may be in the form of kind words and positive reinforcement. It may be through posters that you hang on your walls that remind your kiddos of the power of their thoughts and actions. Or, it may be through empowering them through their own choices and actions. 

This is where I'm headed today!

What would happen if we gave our students the CHOICE of what they learned? Would our classrooms be turned upside down, and would we lose our sense of control?

Don't worry. You won't.


I have created an interactive classroom environment that allows my students to not only interact with it, but it allows me to provide students with choices to engage in various parts of my classroom. 

There are very simple ways to go about this. Here are a couple:

1. Allow students to choose partners, work alone, or in small group. (Do these within reason...simply because some kiddos work best alone, with certain partners, and with extra support.)

2. Allow students to sit where they want in the room. I have different seating options in my classroom that allow for more of a flexible seating situation when I am finished teaching them whole or small group.

When my students walk in and see choices for them on the board, they get excited! It's THEIR day to determine what it is that they'll be doing. I keep the content relevant, and students know that they'll have to work, but depending on how they prefer to learn, and what they like to do, the experience of my class is a bit more personal to them.

There are two ways to go about this.

1. Have students complete one or two tasks of their choice within a given time limit.

2. Have students complete each of the tasks over a period of time, allowing them to decide the order in which they complete them.

I am always sensitive of my students' learning styles, as well. I was always a visual/hands-on learner. I also learned best when someone else read to me, and asked me questions. Other kiddos may want to be the ones doing the reading, or researching a topic for a report.

I use my interactive writing center in my classroom. It is a perfect fit for student choice. The tasks that I choose to put on my bulletin board, and there are a ton, are varied in their complexity. So, let's say that I have a kiddo that's really low, and is reading and writing way below grade level, they may choose to create a greeting card instead of another kiddo that wants to try their hand at writing a fractured fairytale.

I can't tell you how many times I have seen that look of defeat on students' faces when I handed them something that they just could not do. It was heartbreaking. It has taken me a long time to really understand how to truly differentiate my instruction, and how to provide those empowering opportunities to each of my students. Their mindset and self-confidence really can alter their willingness to try, as well as their willingness to take on new tasks. That, to me, is the ultimate goal.

Positive Mindset = More Confidence = 
A Student Who Believes They CAN!

A positive psychology researcher by the name of Barbara Fredrickson has a "broaden and build" theory that ties right into this frame of thinking. After researching and testing her theories on positive thinking, she has found that "positive emotions will broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind. 

That sums up my open the minds of my students, and to believe in themselves. 
There are SO many ways to make our classrooms adaptable to change. I just wanted to highlight a few things that I do in my classroom. You can also implement student choice with technology, morning routines, and classroom decisions. Let your students have some ownership of their home away from home, and I think you'll see that you become less of a classroom and more of a family.
Click below to check out an awesome collection of growth mindset posts from some of my friends!