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Mindset Matters Archives

Mindset Matters
May 29, 2015

At our last Spirit Assembly, students were reminded that they each are “unique in all the world!”  We talked about how they each have strengths (gifts!) and the opportunity to share those gifts with others.  Here are two fun videos for kids that emphasize this message. Watch’s guest appearance on Sesame Street, singing “What I Am” (I will always be the best me I can be… I’ll keep getting stronger) and Watch “A Pep Talk from Kid President” (You were made to be awesome).  These are inspiring messages for kids and adults alike.  Enjoy these whenever you need a little encouragement!

Mindset Matters
May 15, 2015

Our 3rd – 5th graders have been very busy completing required standardized state tests.  And, of course, ALL our students take tests throughout the year.  With all this testing, some students begin to believe that tests tell them how “smart” they are.  Students can think that the grade they receive defines them somehow – by telling them if they are a smart person or not.  However, if we look at tests with a “growth mindset” perspective, we know that’s not true.   

It’s important for parents and educators to remind students of Why we take tests:

  1. To show how much you are learning.
  2. To show how much more growth you could make – that’s exciting!
  3. To show if you know the material that is on the test.

It’s important for students to understand what tests do Not show:

  1. How smart you are.  That test would be really long!
  2. Your potential.  No test can measure that!
  3. If you will ever know the material on the test.  You should be a life-long learner!  You’re not done yet! 

Tests are a snapshot in time.  Of course, we want all our students to be attentive in class and practice diligently to be prepared for tests.  Once they’ve done that, students should be encouraged to relax, focus, and use their best effort.  Keep in mind that tests measure how much a student has learned so far, not how smart they are.  Discuss the difference with your child.  Ideally, test results should be used to help students Grow!

Mindset Matters
May 1, 2015


Many thanks to Rheem’s parents, students, and staff who completed “Soul Shoppe Survey” to provide us with important feedback about this year’s program.  We received 72 parent responses, 17 teacher/staff responses, and 394 student responses.  A binder complete with all the data from all three groups, including comments (names redacted) is available in our office; however, what follows is a quick synopsis of the results:

The responses and comments were varied, but mostly favorable (from all three groups) towards Soul Shoppe.  For example 57% of parents said they either agree or strongly agree that their child enjoyed the Soul Shoppe assemblies and 52% said that Soul Shoppe has helped their children with conflicts at school.  70% of teachers said that Soul Shoppe taught important pro-social skills, that the messages were relevant, and that the assemblies were engaging.  The majority of our students felt that they know how to use the skills/strategies taught and 50 percent reported they had successfully used the skills/strategies at school to help them!

Interestingly, parents and teachers agree that the skill most needed by the students is to “persevere when faces with a challenge;” however, the students want the focus to be on “making and keeping friends.”

Both parents and teachers supported the use of PTA funds for Soul Shoppe but would like more variety in the future.  Given these results and follow-up discussions at PTA meetings and with staff, our goal will be to keep Soul Shoppe messages alive through review and attention at Spirit Assemblies and in the classrooms, while expanding our assembly selection next year.

Mindset Matters
April 17, 2015

It’s no secret that being physically active is an important part of living a happy, healthy life, and it’s never too early to start promoting healthy habits.  To that end, Rheem students learned the “Gimme Five Dance” at the last Spirit Assembly, in celebration of the 5th anniversary of the “Let’s Move Campaign” promoted by First Lady, Michelle Obama.  Check out the website for lots of information and ideas about raising healthy kids!

Also, did you know that all Rheem students are receiving at least 100 minutes of Physical Education each week (in accordance with the Ed Code guidelines)?  It’s important to note that physical education enhances short term memory, creativity, and boosts keys areas of the brain.  The California Department of Education says:

In addition to the health benefits, there is growing evidence that regular physical activity enhances learning and school achievement. In the same way that exercise benefits the muscles, heart, lung and bones, it also strengthens key areas of the brain. Physical activity fuels the brain with oxygen, enhances connections between neurons and assists in memory. Children in daily physical activity have shown superior academic performance and attitude toward school. Exercise has been shown to improve scores on short-term memory, reaction time and creativity; and young persons who exercised daily outperformed other students on exams. Projects in Canada revealed that when physical education time was increased, academic scores went up (Jensen, 1998).

Mindset Matters – Please complete Parent Survey!
March 27, 2015

This school year, all Rheem students and staff participated in Soul Shoppe assemblies, designed to promote better ways to communicate and feel more successful at school.  Now, we are collecting feedback from parents, students, and staff about Soul Shoppe’s impact in order to make plans for future character education programs at Rheem.

Please take a few minutes to complete the Parent Survey.  It will only take a couple of minutes.  If you have more than one child at Rheem, you may complete a separate survey for each child (or just complete one survey if you feel the answers would be similar).

Mindset Matters
March 13, 2015

Through our study of “Growth vs. Fixed” mindsets, as well as our own experiences in teaching and learning with children, we have come to firmly believe that ALL students can succeed.   However, we understand that success does not necessarily come easily or quickly. We know that learning is a process that involves risks, mistakes, and even failures.  Watch a short video (just 1 ½ minutes) that highlights the main ideas of this philosophy.   Watch it together with your child! 

Mindset Matters
February 27, 2015

Can all students achieve in math at high levels?  Or, are some people born with a “math brain” while others are not?  The answer may surprise you.  And, yes, the answer has everything to do with a “growth mindset.”  A new on-line course, “How to Learn Math,” taught by professor of mathematics Jo Boaler and her students at Stanford University, explains the connection between math success and a growth mindset.  A 4-minute preview of this math course and sign-up!  It’s Free!  Parents, consider taking the course together with your child.  There’s a lot to learn, discuss, and think about!  

Mindset Matters
February 12, 2015

You might expect that integrating “mindfulness” exercises into the classroom would help students’ emotional well-being, but did you know that attention to “mindfulness” can promote academic success as well?  Read about research findings that showed a correlation between mindfulness and improved math scores in 4th and 5th grade students.

Mindset Matter
January 30, 2015

The Power of Believing You Can Improve

Dr. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, spoke about the importance of developing a growth mindset at a TEDx conference in November, 2014.  She encourages us to discover the “power of yet” when we are faced with a challenge:  Are you not smart enough to solve it, or have you just not solved it yet? To view her informative 10-minute talk, in which she outlines ways parents and educators can positively influence students’ believe in themselves.

This information is especially important if you’re interested in supporting a student who struggles or one who avoids challenges.  It is also a great introduction and/or refresher to this influential research. 

Mindset Matters
January 16, 2014

Our friend Daniel from Soul Shoppe returned to Rheem on Monday, January 12 to hold “Responsibility” workshops with each grade level.  Through stories and discussions, Rheem students learned what “responsibility” looks like and sounds like.  They also imagined what it would be like if no one was responsible.  A short visit to Planet “I Give Up,” Planet “No One Told Me,” Planet “I Don’t Care,” and Planet “It’s Not My Fault” helped students to see that living on “Planet Responsibility” was the preferred choice!

Parents can support our efforts by reviewing the “Choose Your Planet” bookmark that the students brought home and by providing your child age-appropriate responsibilities at home.  Be sure to praise students for their progress and efforts to live on “Planet Responsibility!” 

An overview of all our Soul Shoppe activities at Rheem so far this year.

Mindset Matters
December 12, 2014

We were pleased to welcome back Soul Shoppe to Rheem on Monday, December 8.  All students participated in “Take Your Time” assemblies, led by our good friend Daniel, during which they learned powerful strategies to help manage anger/frustration and make better choices, including:

“Red, Orange and Green” -- a way of identifying one’s emotional “temperature”

“Stop and Breathe” – a specific tool to use to calm oneself in order to think through making the best choice possible.  The strategy includes five parts: Stop, Breathe, Think, Choose, Act, Cheer.

All students received a bookmark with the above icons listed on either side.  In times of stress, help your child identify whether they are in the Red, Orange, or Green zones and remind them to use a positive strategy to get calm, think about possible solutions, and act accordingly. 

Did you know that you can even use technology to support a more mindful frame of mind? Get the “Stop Breathe and Think” app!  

Mindset Matters
November 7, 2014

Approximately 40 Rheem Parents attended the “Soul Shoppe Parent Evening” on Thursday, November 6.  Daniel Bruno provided an overview of how we’re using specific communication tools to help solve conflicts at school and how parents can use these tools at home.  More information on the Soul Shoppe program at Rheem.

 In addition, Daniel recommended the book Parenting with Love and Logic as a good resource for parents who would like additional guidance in developing communication skills to support children’s character development.  Another recommended resource was, which provides parents with important information about the appropriateness of movies, books, games, and other technology to help foster good decision making.  

Mindset Matters
October 24, 2014


Soul Shoppe was back at Rheem on Monday, October 20.  Joseph Savage, co-founder of Soul Shoppe, met with each individual grade level to show just how easy it can be to help each other solve our problems.  At the Respect workshops, we reviewed/learned:

  • Healthy ways to “empty your balloon” when it gets too filled with sad, mad, or other hurtful feelings
  • How to use the “I-Message” and “Clean-up” routines to work things out
  • How to sit in the “Chair of Respect” wherever you are!

Be sure to ask your child about how he/she is using the above strategies, and/or check out the Parent Information sheet about what was taught/learned.  

Mindset Matters
October 3, 2014

As noted in the last “Mindset Matters” article, our work with Soul Shoppe is helping us to better communicate with others when things go wrong.  However, it’s important to realize that most often things go right!  At our last Spirit Assembly (Monday, Sept. 26), we talked about how to notice the many “good things” that happen in our lives, and how to say “thank you” sincerely and often.  Research has shown that people who make the effort to notice and express gratitude are happier and healthier.  Why not give our kids this advantage?  Christine Carter, author of Raising Happiness, outlines “Seven Ways to Foster Gratitude in Kids” to help parents develop a practice that will have long-term benefits.  

Mindset Matters
September 19, 2014

At Rheem, we believe that attention to students’ social-emotional development is a critical.  Intuitively, we all know that students learn best when they feel both physically and emotionally safe.  Therefore, we have made a concerted effort to help our students develop a “Growth Mindset” and appreciate “Mindfulness” practices.  But, what does the research say?

Although research in these areas is relatively new, the Greater Good Science Center has compiled a list of research studies and results that show the benefits of exploring Mindfulness practices with students, read for yourself how mindfulness can make a positive impact on students’ physical health, psychological well-being, social skills, academic performance, and more.

Mindset Matters
May 16, 2014

“A Happier, Calmer Kid”

Rheem teachers have been introduced to the benefits of “Mindfulness” as a way to support student well-being and success.  The cover story of the April, 2014 edition of Scholastic’s Parent and Child magazine (“A Happier Calmer Kid”) focuses on these benefits, which include stronger minds, calmer emotions, more kindness, and a sharper focus. Read the full article, which includes a list of downloadable apps and other simple strategies to use to promote mindfulness at home.  

Mindset Matters
May 2, 2015

At our Spirit Assemblies on Monday, April 28, the students and I reviewed our recent focus on “Optimism.”   Students have learned that optimism is a way of seeing life hopefully and having an expectation of success and well-being.  We know that optimism is a trait that can be learned with attention and practice.  View the short video that inspired our discussion about “perspective.”

Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to watch the music video “Happy” (by Pharrell Williams) with your child.   We also viewed this video at Monday’s Sprit Assemblies.  You can’t watch it without smiling!  And, smiling helps us to feel Optimistic!  Enjoy! 

Mindset Matters
April 18, 2014

In the March 6 installment of “Mindset Matters,” parents were given suggestions about ways to praise their children.  To help instill a growth mindset in children, parents are encouraged is to praise them for their effort rather than for talent or the final result.

The following table includes some specific examples:

Do not say…

Do say…

You are so smart!

You work hard and it shows! (Be specific about complementing the specific process and/or effort the child demonstrates)

You are a great athlete.  You could be the next (pick super athlete)!

“Your focus on ______ (batting stance, dribbling, etc.) has really made a positive difference.”

“I noticed that you pay good attention when you are on the field. “

(If admiring another athlete, focus on the effort and/or  attitude shown)

You always get good grades; that makes me happy.

When you put forth effort, it really shows in your grades.  You should be proud of yourself.  We are proud of you!

You are a gifted musician! 

You seem to really enjoy playing the piano.  Keep practicing, and you will see amazing results!

You drawing is wonderful; you are my little artist!

I see that you have been practicing your drawing; what a great improvement!  Tell me about it.

So, the next time you are ready to praise your child, stop and think about how to use that opportunity to foster a growth mindset by celebrating your child’s effort and attitude through the experience – rather than just the final accomplishment.

Mindset Matters
March 28, 2014

Did you know that International Happiness Day was March 21st?   To celebrate, a new 8 minute film, “The Science of Character” was premiered around the world – and was also shown at the 3rd – 5th grade Spirit Assembly on Friday, March 28.  This entertaining film highlights the ways in which we can all shape our character and encourage positive character traits in others – through optimism, gratitude, and (yes) mindset!  View this inspiring film, which references the Lifeskill and Mindset work that has been an important focus at Rheem.

Mindset Matters
March 6, 2014

How can parents support a growth mindset in their children?

One way parents can really help their children is by carefully choosing the words they use when they praise them.  Every word and action sends a message that tells children how to think about themselves.  It can be a “fixed message that says; “You have permanent traits and I’m judging them,” (either positively or negatively) or it can be a growth mindset message that says, “You are a developing person and I am interested in your development.”

Listen for the messages in the following examples:

  • “You learned that so quickly!  You’re so smart!”
  • “Look at that drawing!  You are the next Picasso!”

If you’re like most parents, you hear these as supportive, esteem-boosting messages.  But listen more closely.  See if you can hear other messages, the ones that children hear:

  • “If I don’t learn something quickly, I’m not smart.”
  • “I shouldn’t try drawing anything hard or they’ll see I’m no Picasso!”

The most important thing you can do to help your child instill a growth mindset is to praise them for effort rather than for talent.  Messages like, “You learned that so quickly!  You’re so smart!” teach the child that effort is a sign of weakness and that they are either smart or they’re not.  Then, when they encounter difficulty in the future (and they will), they might not know how to deal with it.  Instead, messages such as “I like the way you approached that problem,” or “It looks like your hard work really paid off,” or “I see that you have been practicing your drawing; what a great improvement!  Tell me about it” teaches kids that effort is something we can all benefit from to reach our full potential, and that they need to be working purposefully in order to grow. 

Mindset Matters
February 21, 2014

What is Mindset and why is it important?

Mindset is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and success -- a simple idea that makes all the difference.  Dr. Dweck realized that there are two mindsets: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits.  They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them.  They also believe that talent alone creates success – without effort.  They’re wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point.  This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.  Virtually all people who achieved top performance had these qualities.  Research shows that people with this view reach higher levels of success that people with fixed mindset beliefs.  Teaching a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports.  It enhances relationships, and increases achievement.

©2013 Mindset Works, Inc.

Mindset Matters
February 7, 2014

Mindfulness has been in the news a lot lately, so Rheem’s efforts to provide our students with strategies to de-stress, refocus, and visualize success are right in style!  This week, Time Magazine’s cover story was “The Mindful Revolution,” and even this year’s Super Bowl champions credit “mindfulness” as a big part of their success.  At Rheem, teachers use “brain breaks” to help students calm their minds and give focused attention to the next part of their day.  Practicing mindfulness is just one way we are working to create an optimistic and productive learning experience for all students! 

Mindset Matters
January 31, 2014

You’ve heard the term, now read the book!  Rheem teachers and staff are using Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. as our shared text to better understand the ways a “growth mindset” can positively impact our parenting, teaching, and relationships.  Please consider reading it along with us.  You can easily purchase online or check out a copy from the Rheem office.

Mindset Matters
January 24, 2014

In August, 2007, New York Magazine published an article entitled, “How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise,” and parents and educators took notice.  If you haven’t yet read this article, please take this opportunity to do so.  You will likely be surprised how research has shown that the words we use with our children can greatly impact their achievement and success – and not in the ways you might think!

Mindset Matters
January 17, 2014

Watch an engaging one-minute video that explains the difference between a person who has a growth mindset and person who has a fixed mindset.

Mindset Matters
January 10, 2014

As a Rheem parent, you have probably already heard the term “Growth Mindset” bandied about. Rheem teachers and staff have embraced this term to describe a way of thinking about learning and achievement. Our goal is to help all Rheem students become resilient, successful learners through the development of a “Growth Mindset.” An informative and entertaining 6-minute TED Talk that explores what separates those who succeed from those who struggle – the basic premise for our work in this area.