The Growth Mindset and Ragbrai

I was reminded this past week how much our mindset can affect that which we can accomplish.  Our mindset can easily help us reach our goals or keep us from being successful.  As we encounter challenges and obstacles, our mindset will determine which direction we will take and whether we will keep moving forward or not.

This was very evident last Sunday night after I finished my first day of Ragbrai after biking over 70 miles with over 4000 ft of climb. (Ragbrai is an annual bike ride across the state of Iowa over the course of 7 days)   I was tired, I was sunburned, and after trying to lay down for a little bit I experienced the worst leg cramp of my life.  At this point, my mindset could have sent me home or kept me going for the next 6 days.

I kept going and despite running into other obstacles (sunburned lips, sore knees, flat tire, rain storms, hills, heat, humidity, and long days) I would keep moving forward to reach my goal.  Although the total ride would cover over 480 miles and 16,000 ft of climb, the physical exertion was not as much as the mental exertion I experienced.  I had never attempted anything like this before but it was a challenge I wanted to take on and I was successful.

Day 1: Sioux City – Missouri River



IMG_20150718_192607Day 7 Davenport – Mississippi River

There are so many others that have done this and many of them are older or in worse shape than I am, but it is their mindset that keeps them going.  I got to meet a lot of great people who take on this ride year after year despite whatever physical challenges they may encounter.  Whether they are approaching 80 years of age or have experienced the loss of limbs over the years, they keep getting onto their bike and complete the ride from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River.

I plan on taking on this challenge again and I know while I will continue to work out and improve my physical condition, my mindset is what will keep me going forward.  I have a growth mindset and know that these challenges will only help me learn, not keep me from reaching my goals.  Is this not what we want for our students, to be able to face their challenges and keep going forward.  Just as I am not the most fit rider out there, not by a very  long shot, I keep going just as our students, who may not be the top student in their class, should keep learning despite what obstacles they may face.

The question that keeps coming to my mind is this. “What can we change in our classrooms (grading policies, assessments, assignments, classroom setups) so that our students get more of a growth mindset?”


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