Teaching That Changes Lives

12 Mindset Tools for Igniting the Love of Learning

Marilee Adams (Author)

Publication date: 09/04/2013

Teaching That Changes Lives

Marilee Adams shows how, by adopting a new mindset, teachers can rekindle their love of teaching and ignite their students with a love of learning.

  • Expands on Adams's international bestseller Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, which has sold over 100,000 copies and has been published in twenty languages
  • Takes an innovative approach to combating teacher fatigue and student disengagement by cultivating a entirely new mindset that encourages critical and creative thinking
  • Includes twelve exciting tools for quickly and easily implementing this new mindset in both K "12 and higher-education settings, as well as access to a free online course

Teaching That Changes Lives is a transformational and practical guide that will enable teachers to make an authentic difference with their students and avoid succumbing to the myriad pressures and challenges of their jobs. In answer to the requests of educators who have flocked to her workshops based on her bestseller Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, Marilee Adams shows how, by adopting a new mindset, teachers can rekindle their love of teaching and ignite their students with a love of learning.

Using the storytelling format that proved so successful in her previous book, Adams tells how Emma, a sixth-grade teacher on the verge of quitting her job, learns to cultivate what Adams calls the "Learner Mindset"- having the discipline, curiosity, and courage to consistently ask growth-oriented, open-minded questions of oneself and others-and to avoid the close-minded and critical "Judger Mindset." Emma transforms her classroom, her relationships with her colleagues, and, most importantly, her students' eagerness for learning and achievement.

Teaching is more than imparting facts and skills-it's preparing students for the test of life. Featuring an innovative, easy-to-follow workbook and access to a Learner Mindset online mini-course , this inspiring book will ensure that teachers and students alike become creative, resilient problem solvers, bridge builders, and lifelong learners.

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Overview

Marilee Adams shows how, by adopting a new mindset, teachers can rekindle their love of teaching and ignite their students with a love of learning.

  • Expands on Adams's international bestseller Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, which has sold over 100,000 copies and has been published in twenty languages
  • Takes an innovative approach to combating teacher fatigue and student disengagement by cultivating a entirely new mindset that encourages critical and creative thinking
  • Includes twelve exciting tools for quickly and easily implementing this new mindset in both K "12 and higher-education settings, as well as access to a free online course

Teaching That Changes Lives is a transformational and practical guide that will enable teachers to make an authentic difference with their students and avoid succumbing to the myriad pressures and challenges of their jobs. In answer to the requests of educators who have flocked to her workshops based on her bestseller Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, Marilee Adams shows how, by adopting a new mindset, teachers can rekindle their love of teaching and ignite their students with a love of learning.

Using the storytelling format that proved so successful in her previous book, Adams tells how Emma, a sixth-grade teacher on the verge of quitting her job, learns to cultivate what Adams calls the "Learner Mindset"- having the discipline, curiosity, and courage to consistently ask growth-oriented, open-minded questions of oneself and others-and to avoid the close-minded and critical "Judger Mindset." Emma transforms her classroom, her relationships with her colleagues, and, most importantly, her students' eagerness for learning and achievement.

Teaching is more than imparting facts and skills-it's preparing students for the test of life. Featuring an innovative, easy-to-follow workbook and access to a Learner Mindset online mini-course , this inspiring book will ensure that teachers and students alike become creative, resilient problem solvers, bridge builders, and lifelong learners.

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Marilee Adams

Marilee Adams, Ph.D. is the founder and president of the Inquiry Institute and the originator of Question ThinkingTM. As a thought leader, consultant, executive coach, facilitator, and professional speaker for some of the world’s leading companies, Marilee is often referred to as the Chief Question Officer. Her work sets the standard for transforming the spirit of inquiry into practical, powerful and user-friendly questioning skills and tools that are used throughout the world. In her consulting practice, Marilee has witnessed the transformative power of Question Thinking for individuals, leaders, teams, organizations, and communities. This includes Fortune 100 companies, Lockheed Martin, Johnson & Johnson, Siemens Building Technologies, and DHL; the National Defense University and NASA Goddard in the Federal Government; hospitals such as Toronto General hospital; and national non-profit organizations the American Society of Training and Development, the Girl Scouts of America, and the Brookings Institution.


Before turning her attention to the world of business and organizational effectiveness, Marilee was a psychotherapist for more than twenty-five years, facilitating individuals, couples, and families in using thoughtful inquiry to create remarkable new possibilities for themselves. She also expresses her passion, commitment, and belief in the benefits of Learner inquiry through the Thoughtful Citizenship Project she founded as an initiative of the Inquiry Institute.
Marilee’s first book, The Art of the Question: a Guide to Short-Term Question-Centered Therapy (John Wiley & Sons, 1998) was lauded as a “seminal and breakthrough contribution to the field of psychotherapy.” The Question Thinking work at the core of the story in Change Your Questions is based on proven principles and research, described in that book, about how people think, feel, behave, and change.


Marilee has contributed book chapters on Question Thinking to Action Learning and Its Applications and to Positively M.A.D.: Making a Difference in Your Organizations, Communities, and the World. She co-authored, with Margen Schiller, Ph.D. and David Cooperrider, Ph.D., a chapter for Advances in Appreciative Inquiry, Vol. I. She has also published articles on the expert use of questions in coaching, business, relationships, and organizational transformation. Marilee earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Fielding Graduate Institute, her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University, is adjunct faculty for the Adler Institute of Coaching in Canada and lectures at Columbia University Teacher’s College.
Marilee is a member of the Core Faculty, Certificates in Leadership Coaching, which is co-sponsored by Adler International Learning and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. She is also affiliated with Columbia University’s Learning & Leadership (L&L) Group at Teachers College and is a member of the Berrett-Koehler Author Co-op Board.


Marilee and her husband, artist Ed Adams, live in the river town and arts community of Lambertville, New Jersey. She welcomes your correspondence at Choice@ InquiryInstitute.com.

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Table of Contents

FOREWORD

INTRODUCTION: Mindsets for Learning

CHAPTER 1 The Alchemy of Inquiry

CHAPTER 2 Mindsets Make All the Difference

CHAPTER 3 Mapping the Geography of Our Minds

CHAPTER 4 Exploring Learner and Judger Mindsets

CHAPTER 5 Thinking with New Questions

CHAPTER 6 Listening with Learner Ears

CHAPTER 7 Questions Out of the Box

CHAPTER 8 Easy as ABCD

CHAPTER 9 Becoming a Resilient Learner

CHAPTER 10 Questioning Assumptions

CHAPTER 11 Surprising Collaborators

CHAPTER 12 Opening to New Possibilities

CHAPTER 13 Staff Meeting Showdown

CHAPTER 14 The Question that Changes Everything

EPILOGUE The Five Questions

WORKBOOK WITH MINDSET TOOLS

LEARNER MINDSET ONLINE LEARNING

NOTES

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ABOUT THE INQUIRY INSTITUTE

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Excerpt

Teaching That Changes Lives

INTRODUCTION

MINDSETS FOR LEARNING

The hidden curriculum … is the teacher’s own integrity and
lived conviction … It is the message which is written in a
teacher’s eyes throughout the course of his or her career. It is
the lesson which endures a lifetime.

Jonathan Kozol

You wouldn’t be reading this book today had it not been for the teacher who changed my life. As a youngster I was never a star student, though I always had a book in hand, often reading at night with a flashlight under the covers or hiding in the closet to finish a story long after my parents thought I was asleep. While I loved to read, school was often a struggle for me and I had little confidence in my own abilities. It was in graduate school that a single teacher, Dr. Bill Friedman, provided that magical combination of caring, connection, and intellectual conscientiousness wherein I was able to flourish. While Bill was demanding, he was also kind and patient, always letting me know he believed I could live up to the high standards he set for me. Over the years he helped me hone my natural curiosity into the kind of disciplined question asking that is the foundation of critical and creative thinking—and thereby contributed to the path that has become my life’s work.

Through Bill’s tutelage I made some of the most significant changes of my life—in my mindset and in the beliefs I held about myself as a learner, thinker, and as a person. The evidence for those changes showed up in sometimes unexpected ways. Once, when another professor deeply critiqued one of my papers, I surprised myself by easily responding, “Okay. What do I need to learn to fix it?” If, instead, my old mindset had been in charge, I would have drowned in a familiar downward spiral of self-reprisal. Of course, that would have prevented me from learning from that professor and going on eventually to turn in an excellent paper. Now I remember that incident fondly as my matriculation into “mindset school,” where we are all perennial students.

Almost everyone agrees that the overarching purpose of education is to prepare students for the future, yet never before has the future been more difficult to predict or prepare for. To borrow Neil Postman’s metaphor, students who “enter school as question marks and leave as periods” will certainly be ill-prepared to face the uncertainty of a future where there are no easy answers. Consequently, being a teacher today is more challenging and potentially more exciting than ever before. The key is helping students develop excellent thinking skills1 and the capacity to engage in vigorous problem-solving to tackle the novel situations that the future has yet to reveal. While it is essential that we teach the core skills of literacy, numeracy, and technology, students will need to be more curious and creative than ever before. They will need to be resilient and have effective skills for interacting and collaborating with others in positive and constructive ways.

This is why our schools and classrooms must provide environments that encourage students to develop a lifelong love of learning. These proficiencies are so important to businesses and organizations that many emphasize “continuous improvement,” providing training focused on communication, decision-making, critical and creative thinking, building collaborative relationships, and general people skills.

Teaching interpersonal communication and thinking competencies is of a different order than teaching the ABCs or math, where “correct” answers are more easily tested. Even when students get all the right answers on subject area tests, it is no guarantee of their preparedness to pass the tests of life. Most of us recognize that answers typically close thinking while questions typically open it. Lest we forget, answers are only the end point of a process—they can be only as useful as the questions and thinking that precede them. In Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind, Doctors Arthur Costa and Bena Kallick write that we must be “ … interested in not only how many answers students know, but also how students behave when they don’t know an answer. We are interested in observing how students produce knowledge, rather than how they merely reproduce it. A critical attribute of intelligent human beings is not only having information but also knowing how to act on it.”2

As fundamental as questions are for attaining knowledge and living our lives, it is easy to overlook the importance of the mindset from which a question is launched. One’s mindset will have a huge impact on any answers or results that might follow. In the words of Stanford University researcher Carol S. Dweck, “When you enter a mindset you enter a new world.”3 She cites compelling evidence for the impact of mindset in multiple areas, especially in learning and intelligence, and discusses how mindset interventions can even help resolve conflicts between longstanding adversaries.4

Dr. Dweck’s formidable research on the distinctions between what she calls the “growth mindset” and the “fixed mindset” is conceptually aligned with the Learner and Judger mindsets described in this book and in my two previous books, The Art of the Question: A Guide to Short-Term Question-Centered Therapy5 and Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 10 Powerful Tools for Life and Work.6 An international bestseller, Change Your Questions was originally intended for a business and organizational audience but has acquired a wide readership among educators. These books illustrate how skillful “mindset management” can be strengthened through developing greater facility with the quantity and quality of the questions we ask ourselves and others.

Teaching that Changes Lives focuses first on the teacher’s mindset and the impact of that mindset—Learner or Judger—on their students, and on their own satisfaction with the experience of teaching. As you read the pages ahead, you’ll also see how these same skills increase teachers’ job satisfaction, which according to reliable studies has hit the lowest point in a quarter of a century.7

The skills outlined in these pages help us stay calm and present in order to think clearly and strategically from moment to moment, including when leading a classroom. These skills also help us successfully manage difficult situations that are a part of everyday life in many classrooms. The focus is on cultivating the Learner mindset for professional development, enriching the climate of learning, whether it’s with whole classrooms, individual students and colleagues, parents, or professional learning communities.

In writing Teaching That Changes Lives, I chose to employ the same allegorical form as I used with Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. According to the Wikipedia, allegory is “a device in which characters or events in a story, poem, or picture represent or symbolize ideas and concepts.” Successful allegory takes us deeper into our own lives, empowering us with new thinking, skills, and possibilities. My readers often share how much they have personally benefited from the mixture of story and practical application that the allegorical form provides “lessons embedded in a page turner.”

The narrator of the story is Emma Shepherd, a sixth grade teacher who is a composite of many people I have known and worked with. Hopefully you’ll find the story of Emma’s struggles, insights, and breakthroughs to be engaging and enjoyable to read, while keeping in mind that her character is a vehicle for illustrating the Learner Mindset System at the heart of this book. Another main character is Dr. Sophie Goodwin, a university professor in a school of education. Dr. Goodwin’s early work developing the mindset system of tools had a powerful impact on Emma, when she had Sophie as her sixth grade teacher.

The mindset and questioning lessons woven throughout Emma’s story are rendered into 12 practical, easy to apply tools presented in a workbook at the back of the book. Throughout the story there are instructive graphics, pull quotes, and tables that augment the text. At the end of the book there is also a link to free digital tools for reinforcing the lessons of the book.

Much of Emma’s story takes place in her sixth grade classroom. I had very specific goals in choosing this grade as the setting for the story. First and foremost, this age group constitutes an important milestone, when students often develop their own intellectual interests and passions, sometimes independent of what they’re being taught at school. Many educators and brain scientists believe that if we can deeply engage students in learning and thinking by sixth grade, we can not only keep them in school longer but encourage their continuing intellectual, social, and emotional development. Almost everyone understands that we need to find better ways of accomplishing this end. Dropout statistics indicate that a quarter of American students drop out of high school before graduation, and in urban areas those statistics are even more distressing.8 Perhaps it’s not surprising that teacher job satisfaction has also declined significantly.9

As I’ve mentioned, many educators have already read Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. If you are one of them, you’ll find that these two books complement one another. While the settings, characters, and stories are different, both books focus on the importance of mindsets, thinking, and questioning to achieve desired results. Teaching that Changes Lives illustrates how the mindset tools that have proven so successful for readers of Change Your Questions can make a similar positive difference in the world of education. When teachers strengthen their ability to manage their own mindsets skillfully and intentionally, they become more effective and satisfied as educators. When students strengthen their ability to manage their own mindsets skillfully and intentionally, they become more effective and satisfied as learners.

Emma’s story illustrates how she uses her newfound mindset skills to great benefit with her students and colleagues, and for herself personally.

It is my heartfelt desire that Teaching that Changes Lives might contribute to each reader’s greater fulfillment and success as a teacher, educational leader, parent, or student. I can think of no better way to pay homage to my own teachers and what they contributed to my life. You can imagine how gratifying it was for me to find Bill—the teacher who helped change my life so long ago—and let him know I’ve dedicated this book to him!

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Endorsements

"Marilee's work has changed the life of my campus."

-Verna Fitzsimmons, PhD, CEO and Dean, Kansas State University, Salina

"If every K-12 teacher in America read this book, it could make an incredible difference for them and their students too."

-Jim L. Roussin, MALS, coauthor of Implementing Change Through Learning and Guiding Professional Learning Communities

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