Recently I had the privilege of hearing the 2017 Florida Teacher of the Year, Jessica Solano, deliver a keynote address. In her presentation, she talked about the power of “yet” and the undeniable hope and expectation that this small three-letter word conveys. I found myself reflecting on this simple but mighty word and the difference I can make finding ways to incorporate it into my life.
“Yet” means that one day, I will! Instead of saying, “I haven’t achieved a goal,” I could say, “I haven’t achieved a goal, YET.” By adding that extra word, I have changed my internal message of failure to an intention to persevere. I have taken hopeless and reframed it into future success given more time, resources, or practice.
I thought back to my days in the classroom and when I worked with educators. How many times could I have changed a mindset in my feedback? How many times did I unintentionally place limits on what a child or an adult could accomplish?
In my chemistry class, I would often encourage students to “study harder” or tell them “Chemistry may not be your thing.” While my intentions were to lift, praise, and inspire my students, did my words limit future growth? I wonder what the results would have been if I had encouraged other ways to think of the problem or provided guiding questions to help them persevere to an outcome. What would have happened if my conversations with teachers about not giving up on a student would have been replaced by “We haven’t found the right strategy, YET. Let’s brainstorm more.”
The idea of “yet” is deeply tied to understanding and building growth mindsets and the work of Carol Dweck. As I continue to grow personally and professionally, I find that I am still a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets. Reflecting on my reaction in situations allows me to better understand the why behind my response, the impact it has on others, and how to adjust to provide better opportunities and outcomes.
The beginning of the school year has always been my favorite time; fresh faces, rejuvenated people, and opportunities to make improvements…new beginnings. Adding “yet” in my conversations enables those new beginnings to continue throughout the year. I hope you will join me in leveraging the power of three letters, to resign ourselves to seeing the potential and not the problems knowing we just haven’t reached the mountaintop.
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