Community in the Classroom
Change Your Mindset and Live Your Best Life!

After the HMH Mindset Survey I really started paying attention to what my students said in conversation with me and each other. Many had a growth mindset but not a lot of gumption. The term nowadays is "Grit"! I started thinking, "How can I encourage my students to seriously go after their hopes and dreams?" I didn't want them just "dreaming" about graduating high school, getting a job, living in a pretty house, having a nice family, vacationing anywhere of their choice, getting a scholarship to college, helping out their family members financially- You know all those things that are in the dreams of high school students. Rather, I wanted them to start doing something about it! Mindset is not about sitting back and watching life pass by. As my parents would have said, "Get off of the couch and go do it"!

I let my students see my gumption, grit, and tenacity to encourage them by telling two quick stories about myself.

Story One:
My parents had me saving money out of each babysitting job when I was 12. My friends spent all of their earnings, and here I was saving for retirement, as it turns out, 42 years away!

When I turned sixteen I went to work at Randall's grocery store as a checker. During the summer Randall's would call for me to come in early. I could hear the phone ring as I was lounging by the pool. I would say to myself, "Please don't be Randall'splease." But sure enough, the back door would open, and my mom would say, "Andrea, Randall's would like for you to come in early." I would grumble and say my uniform was dirty, and my mom would say, "I can get it washed." So, I would march upstairs and get ready for work. (Really, all I was doing was lying around and a few extra hours on the job wasn't going to hurt me but I was a typical teenager.) Again, I was encouraged to save a lot of my paycheck earnings for the future. My brother and I were raised that you can't afford it if you can't pay cash! This is a great lesson that I have tried to pass on to my nieces, nephews, friends, and students.

Story Two:
After my first year of teaching I didn't have a lot of extra cash in the bank from my teaching salary, and I wanted nice things! A lot of my friends were getting married, and they had pretty diamonds. I told my parents I would like beautiful diamonds, and they said, "We aren't buying them for you! Go work at Kay Jewelers, and buy your own diamonds." So I did! I still didn't have the lifestyle I dreamt about, though. That same summer I was contacted by Schreiner University to be a Resident Director, a Dorm Parent. I told my parents I wasn't sure I wanted to move back into the dormitory, but they said here was my chance to add extra income. I moved into Trull Dorm at the end of the summer before my second year of teaching. I had my own kitchen, but I decided, with my parents encouragement, to eat every meal in the school cafeteria to save money. In fact, the cafeteria staff was so nice, they packed my lunch for school every day. So here I was, teaching seventh grade reading at Hal Peterson Middle School, working at Kay Jewelers after school, and being a dorm parent to college kids. After a few years, and diamonds later, I quit my job at Kay's and continued to be a dorm parent and eat my meals at the Schreiner University cafeteria and teach seventh grade reading in Kerrville. After eight years of bill free living and two pay-checks, my Dorm Director position came to an end. The University wanted only Schreiner full time staff in that job. As I tell my students I socked away money so I could live the life style I so dreamed about!

As I ponder about each individual student I teach, I wonder what my mindset would have been if my parents weren't constantly influencing me to get out there in life, make a change and a difference for the better! Would I have been able to pick myself up by the bootstraps and go after all of my hopes and dreams? I'll never know but I sure can be one of the positive influences in all of my students’ lives! The more people our students have supporting them the more rewarding their life will be!

On Monday, I am going to show my students my box of hopes and dreams. I created one this weekend to encourage them to make their own! Inside my box I will have pictures and statements of what I would like to accomplish in the next 48 years!

Agenda for the first ten minutes on Monday:

1. Share my two stories.
2. Have students open their spiral to a blank page and title it "Oh, What Do I Want to Accomplish?
3. As a class start a list of what we want to achieve in life.
4. Write their statements on the board.
5. Every day add to the list.

The lists will be great talking points with students throughout the year. As the teacher you can guide students on how to work towards these goals and accomplishments. Many students with a fixed mindset will have more difficulty coming up with a list of goals at first because they might think many things aren't tangible for them. Help them to see with hard work, tenacity, and grit, they too can have their hopes and dreams come true.

Show Angela Duckworth's TED talk on GRIT!


On a larger scale, don't just settle on your READ 180 students, try and influence the whole school and the community around you! Bring The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn and its principles into your classroom, school, community, family, and life and truly make a difference!

1. How do you think the FRED Awards encourage students to overachieve?

The Fred Ambassadors believe everyone should go above and beyond. We want students to strive to be their best at all times. We hope students will be encouraged by the Fred Ambassadors to go the extra mile. We like to honor and award students and staff with Fred Bags and hundred dollar bills throughout the year. It's just a little thing, but it helps remind students and staff that they are making a positive difference in someone's life. Today, while walking in the hallway, I overheard a sophomore say, "I just want a Fred Bag award before I graduate!" Really, something as simple as a decorated lunch size paper sack, filled with 8FL. OZ water bottle, chips or cookies, lollipop, gum, a few pieces of candy, and a Fred certificate can make a teenage student want to be their best!

When people are living their best life, then the world becomes a happier place. At Cy Creek when staff and students are going above and beyond, being their best, more learning takes place and the school is a greater place to be for everyone.

A Fred wants to be their best at all times. Setting an example in the hallway, being kind to everyone, helpful in the classroom, tutoring a student in need, giving a listening ear, and striving to be their best on the court or the field are all examples of Freds.

2. What does it mean to be a Fred?

A Fred lives life to the fullest. At work or school they give 100%. They do their school work or teach to the best of their ability daily. They are kind and considerate to everyone. They live in the moment, always present, trying to be their best.

3. Why is it important for people to be Freds?

We think it's important to be a Fred because then you are living your best life. We think you are happier and more fun to be around.

4. How can someone become a Fred?

Anyone can be a Fred. You just have to have a positive attitude and a difference-making mindset. We all make a difference every day, but what kind of difference are you making? A Fred chooses to make a positive difference in someone's life. A Fred takes their school work or job to the next level. Like Fred Shea, the mailman, he took being a mailman a step further. A Fred loves their job and does it to the best of their ability. They want to make a positive difference. They strive to make the people they come in contact with feel a little better just for meeting them. For example, a Fred notices the checker at the grocery store just by noticing how pleasant they are, or their manicured nails, or by asking how their day is going. A Fred will notice the remarkable sandwich maker at Jersey Mikes or Subway!

5. How can you show that you're a Fred outside of school?

Anyone can be a Fred outside of school. All you have to do is just be kind, nice, and considerate. Notice the people and the good things around you.

Consider decorating Fred Jars and honor people in the community that go above and beyond. Mine is a decorated Snapple jar (the trivia on the inside lid is cool) filled with $75 and up with bills and change. It is enough money for a nice lunch or dinner. Just to let the recipient know that they are making a difference. I want everyone I meet to know that they are making a positive difference.

Cool Fred Moment: My first Fred Jar went to Dananimal at IFLY in December 2016. He went above and beyond teaching us how to fly and maneuver in the wind tunnel. His attitude about life was amazing! Another Fred Jar went to Rusty at Sears. He sold my mom a refrigerator years before and still remembered our names years later. His customer service was fantastic. After being rear-ended on my way to school, Scott pulled his car over to make sure I was ok. Since December 2016, I have awarded 28 Fred Jars.

I have also set up the Fred Award at the University of Northern Iowa in honor of my mom because she is the ultimate Fred. Each year a deserving professor will be awarded $1000 for going above and beyond. Next year a student award will be added.


Have these moments. Think about the specifics of each students' mindset and how to get them to think about this in relation to improving in READ 180, their aspirations and life and dreams, and to be the best you.

Stage C READ 180 Educator

Philosophy of Teaching All of my life, I have enjoyed working with children and have always desired to teach. It is my belief that no matter what socio-economic background, everyone deserves to achieve his/her educational goals. It is my ambition to facilitate this process.Growing up in the Houston area, I have always been aware of the Cypress-Fairbanks School District. The district's reputation of excellence is well known, not only in the Houston metroplex, but throughout the state of Texas. As a professional educator, it is important to be associated with a school district whose goals for its students are aligned with my philosophy of teaching.