Manage the Common Core Through Growth Mindset

Second-chance learning encourages students to face and learn from their mistakes.

August 29, 2016
Gina M. Ligouri
Classroom teacher
Montour High School
McKees Rocks, PA
CATEGORIES In the Classroom

One of my favorite quotes by Confucius: "Choose a job you love, and you'll never have to work a day in your life." I translate this motto into action in my classroom daily. If my students have a love for learning, they will never be stressed over assessments, projects, and coursework. “Success … nothing less!” is an idea that hangs on my classroom door for my students to see daily. This quote resonates with them, and by the end of the year, students buy wholeheartedly into that motto. Better yet, the positive results are evident in their grades and their appreciation for academics. So, how can a teacher manage the Common Core to yield outstanding academic results from students?

As teachers, it is our job to plan fun, engaging, effective lessons for our students. We are constantly reworking curricula, designing innovative activities for our students, and keeping up with ever-changing technology demands. Whether it be a kindergarten teacher beginning a new school year or a high school English teacher preparing for state testing, teachers everywhere share one focus: What is in the best interest of our students, and how do we ensure that every student receives a fun, loving, safe environment in which to engage? One approach to managing the requirements and strict stipulations of the Common Core is through “second-chance learning.”  

With second-chance learning, students are able to admit their mistakes, learn from them, and move on.

Create opportunities for students' success.  

So what exactly is “second-chance learning”? Second-chance learning is a strategy that provides additional opportunities for students to learn and demonstrate what they know. The strategy encourages students to share the essential knowledge or skills that may not have been demonstrated on the first attempt of an assignment, test, or project. The overall intent is for students to master the content and be able to demonstrate that mastery. With second-chance learning, students are able to admit their mistakes (it’s OK!), learn from them, and move on. Almost always, students gain a deeper understanding of the content and are able to demonstrate their skills through application and discussion.

Encourage student responsibility. 

Second-chance learning encourages students to take the initiative to open a discussion with their teacher. Maybe they're unhappy with their progress or grade on a specific assignment. The teacher will then work with the student to devise a plan for revision. The teacher may schedule a conference with the student to review the content or may suggest that the students explore the content again, individually, before offering additional help. Oftentimes, students are able to identify errors and misconceptions without additional direction from the teacher. This autonomy gives students a sense of ownership of their own learning -- it also teaches responsibility in regards to asking for help when needed.

Second-chance learning is a great way to manage the strict demands of the Common Core. Not only are students completely immersed in the content, but they have the opportunity to explore the material until they've mastered the skills of the Common Core. Although this philosophy takes additional effort among teachers and students (and you need support from your administration), the risk is well worth the reward. Reignite a student's love for learning while embracing a growth mindset through second-chance learning.