Unexpected Lessons from Unexpected Sources:
Cherishing Hidden Gifts
Mary-Dean Barringer, CEO, All Kinds of Minds
It is the time of year that I indulge in all my favorite holiday stories. I watch the many Christmas movies on late night television and listen to well-worn holiday CDs, singing along in my car. I re-read my favorite childhood books. Many of the storylines of the season center on a child’s hope and faith when surrounded by doubt and cynicism, and this hooks me every time. The unexpected lessons learned when individuals reveal overlooked talents and gifts are equally compelling.
Almost every young child knows the story of Rudolph. His peers couldn’t see the value of his different kind of nose, so they avoided or teased him. Yet when a foggy evening required an innovative kind of talent, Rudolph’s unique nose was suddenly an asset that saved the day! The Rudolph story parallels so many of our students’ stories. When you can match learning opportunity to a uniquely wired mind, hidden gifts can be revealed that benefit us all.
One example, is Nakeisha. Her learning challenges were strikingly apparent to her teacher. “She labors over language. Words elude her as she tries to develop her thoughts and carry out a conversation, and she struggles to put her ideas together.”
Nakeisha’s teacher helped her and her classmates explore and understand their own unique learning strengths and weaknesses. For Nakeisha, who was struggling – and frequently failing – in school, uncovering a learning strength was the gift she needed to build the confidence to tackle her learning challenges.
Proud of her good memory and great ideas, Nakeisha now knows she can learn and be successful. Her grades are improving. And Nakeisha’s teacher has the tools she needs to understand the different ways that student’s learn.
Learning from children, discovering their gifts, and renewing the commitment to support people like you who inspire and help students all year long is what this year has been about for me and my colleagues at All Kinds of Minds. And as we near year-end, we are appealing to those who can join in this commitment by providing financial support to our organization, so that we can maintain and expand our work with educators, schools and students. I encourage you to visit our newly updated online giving page. There’s a wonderful video I hope you’ll consider sharing with those you know who might be moved to make a donation to support this important work.
We wish you a joyous holiday season: one filled with wonder, time for reflection and magical surprises.
The praises for the NEW book from All Kinds of Minds keep coming.
Sandra J. Stein
Principal consultant, The Education Innovations Group
Former Deputy State Superintendent, N.C. Department of Public Instruction
A book for any school or district leader who believes data-driven decision-making involves more than end-of-year test scores. Schools for All Kinds of Minds is a very accessible review of using the science of how children learn to support and spur dramatic learning gains.
Head of School
Fort Worth Academy
US Department of Education National Distinguished Principal
The perfect book for dedicated and committed leaders who struggle in a woefully imperfect educational system.
Introducing the Champions of Learning
Announcing The All Kinds of Minds Schools of Distinction Program. Meet the first 21 outstanding schools that have embraced the All Kinds of Minds philosophy and programs to do amazing work with students in a broad range of school settings. These schools have committed to fully implementing the All Kinds of Minds philosophy and approach throughout their curricula and school culture.
"Knowledge is Power!"
Isn’t that what we learned from Schoolhouse Rock? Teachers are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to help students acquire knowledge and skills. What if we also found creative ways to help students learn about learning and how they learn best? Might our classrooms then include and embrace...
… a student who uses graphic organizers to take notes in class because she
knows that leveraging her spatial ordering strengths will help her memory.
… a project group that assigns tasks based on group members’ strengths (e.g.,
the research tasks to those with strengths in higher order cognition and
attention, the project timeline to those with strong temporal-sequential
ordering, and the report to those with strengths in expressive language.)
… a teacher who uses a lesson on economic systems as an opportunity to
teach students about higher order cognition and evaluative thinking.
Now that’s power!
All Kinds of Minds-trained teachers across the US and worldwide are developing and teaching learning about learning lessons to help students harness the power of understanding themselves as learners. Be sure to check out the example of second graders from The Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon telling about their kinds of minds!
Share your stories in your own words!
Make a movie of your students talking about how they
Email your file to Michele at firstname.lastname@example.org
Try these sample lessons for talking with students about learning:
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