• Teaching Tenacity and Mindset - September 21, 2015

    Posted by Dr. Jim Argent on 9/21/2015 8:00:00 AM

    Currently, the educational system values being able to perform well on tests. So many educational structures have been set towards raw intelligence and IQ. Schooling seems to value a specific type of student intelligence and how students perform on assessments. But what of other strengths and intelligences that are needed in order to be successful in life? A simple google search of multiple intelligences pulled 763,000 results. Most of this based on the famed work of Dr. Howard Gardner, who identified 7 types of intelligences: visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, and logical mathematical. Obviously, schools can be a better place if they honor all of these intelligences and assessed with all of these in mind. We would be able to determine if students really learned content based on their strengths. That would be a vast improvement over current assessments. However, I still don’t think it would be enough. Just having a strength in a type of intelligence is not enough! What if we really flipped the script and also valued tenacity and growth mindset?

    Tenacity is an amazing trait to have and develop as a human being. To be tenacious means that you won’t let up or give in. You are goal oriented and driven to succeed and NO one can tell you that you will fail. You are determined and persistent in the face of adversity and persevere towards success. This is way we are studying academic tenacity and a growth mindset at Knightdale High School of Collaborative Design.
    Think about that – think about all the great things that happen when you are tenacious. If we can teach students to have a growth mindset and be tenacious in their pursuance of academic goals, then the sky is the limit. I think back to one of my dorm mates my freshmen year in college. We all know this kind of guy – he was BRILLIANT. I mean he knew everything, got over a 1500 on his SAT, and could get good grades without even trying. We have all known that person! Problem was, he was lazy!!!! He dropped out of college after his freshmen year. I have no clue what became of him, but I am convinced that he would never reach his potential if he did not learn to work hard and become tenacious. (I truly hope he did, because he was a good guy!)
    So you may ask, how do you teach tenacity and growth mindset and what are you doing at KHSCD about it? One way we are doing this is providing professional development to our teachers on this concept. We are valuing the concept of failing forward and goal setting. We are discussing with students the importance of continuing to try and give great effort. Students are learning the value of effort in their work. We are also modeling this with all staff. We are supporting and nurturing the journey and expressing our appreciation for academic tenacity. We are also reviewing research on growth mindset and changing our practices to show and teach students this concept (here is a web-site that discusses Dr. Carol Dweck’s work if you are interested). Finally we are challenging all of our students to up their game, but we are also providing the environment and support.
    We understand that this will be difficult work. Especially for students that have not been that successful in the past. However, we understand the importance of tenacity and mindset to future success and to our Mission of Every Student, College Ready. SO next time you are working with your child, or see a school age student, congratulate them on their tenacity, value their effort, and praise the journey. If we get them to believe in these important concepts, then the grades and test scores will follow!
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  • Letter to Student Body from Knight's Vision - August 30, 2015

    Posted by Jim Argent on 8/30/2015 4:00:00 PM

    Something kind of strange just happened.  I found this letter to the student body of KHSCD on my computer from Knight’s Vision – the Superhero identity of the Knightdale High School of Collaborative Design Principal. I guess I will save some time and let this open letter to the students be my Principal Blog for the week.  Thanks Knight’s Vision!

    Dr. Argent
    August 30, 2015
    Students of KHSCD,
    We currently have close to 1700 students that finished the first week at Knightdale High School of Collaborative Design and this is a shout out to all of you.  You entered last Monday with nerves, fears, excitement, anxiety, skepticism, hope, and wonder.  I want everyone out there to imagine entering a workplace with that cocktail of emotions and feelings. It isn’t a very setting feeling, is it?  But you, the students of KHSCD did just that.  You have heard for over six months about our redesign. Some of you were engaged in the process.  Many of you didn’t ask for the redesign.  Many of you were perfectly content with your school (and yes, Knightdale is your school). Many of you wondered what was happening as new staff was hired and physical transformations were made.  I received numerous questions and concerns about what we were doing from many of you.  I also watched your reactions as our staff sent many tweets out about our school.  I also had one of the most pointed questions ever asked to me by a rising senior, when she asked, “Is all this excitement for real and is it really going to be different or are y’all just playing us?”
    Well after just one week, I believe we have shown that Knightdale High School of Collaborative Design is not “playing” our students and the students aren’t playing either!.  In our first week, we have changed our style of teaching across the board.  We are building relationships through our Capturing Kids Hearts philosophy.  We are proving that we believe in every student through our mindset.  As one student told me, “It is like all our teachers believe in us and want to help us go to college!”  Finally, we are innovating in our lessons and creating lessons that hit the 4 C’s:  Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity, and Communication Skills.
    Throughout the first week, I have watched you transform from leery looks to full out embracing of KHSCD. This makes me proud.  However, students, now the real work begins now.  Just because we had an entire week without one student suspension. One week with no student assigned to ISS or ALC.  One week with only five total students removed from class (but easily re-entered and embraced by the teacher when they returned). One week with team building games, relationship building, and getting to know one another in the books. Just because we had one great week as a start does not mean we are there yet!  Now, we turn our attention to strengthening those bonds and friendships, and relationships as we take a deep dive into the curriculum.  Our lessons will be innovative, but rigorous.  The question now is how the students and staff will respond as we push one another?  How will we respond when things are not going our way?  How will we respond when the going gets tough?  After one week, I think I know the answer and I am excited as we push our students and staff to new heights.  After one week, I am ready to ask our students if they are ready to accept their mission.  If they are ready to work towards our mission of Every Student College Ready!  Students, are you ready to take charge of your future and become College Ready?  I think you are or I wouldn’t have asked!
    This is why I wanted to write this letter and give huge “props” to the KHSCD student body.  The changes are for the better, but sometimes change for the better is hard.   There are many trials and tribulations ahead but I know how we will respond.  We will continue on this amazing journey.  We will continue to build a culture of excellence. I know we will continue to fulfill our mission.   You know how I KNOW that – because WE ARE KHSCD and we are all Superheroes of Education.
    In Education,
    Knight’s Vision
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