Worst to First


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I'd barely sat down to begin a conference with Chris and Aaron when one of them declared, "We have a problem with our goals." A little surprised by the statement, I asked them to please share with me what they were noticing. Aaron replied, "Well, they are not challenging enough," and Chris added, "Yeah. These are too easy."

I answered, "That's interesting. When we last met, you did not want to change your goals because you thought these were areas you still were working on. You were not interested in setting new goals."

They looked at each other and nodded, and then one bravely said, "Worst to First."

It took me a minute to understand what he meant, and then it hit me: the Red Sox, the World Series, and Boston's favorite new slogan—Worst to First.

Chris said, "If we want to be great, we need to set big goals just like the Red Sox."

I am a huge baseball fan. How could I have missed this opportunity for growth mindset? I had been seeing the signs, watching the news, and reading the headlines, but I had never connected Worst to First with a growth mindset.  

These students use the CAFE Menu and know that they are expected to know their goals and how they are working toward meeting them. Each small group or individual lesson begins with students talking about the goals they are working on and how that work is going for them. The culture of having goals is well established in this classroom, so it makes sense that they would look to the Red Sox as mentors and push themselves. We know an assessment system is working when our readers are connecting what is happening in their world to the work they are doing in the classroom. Goals are everywhere, and these students saw the role they played in winning the World Series.  

Now, clearly we are a bit biased toward the Red Sox since we live in Boston, but even if you are not a fan, it seems they have given us a real opportunity to talk about growth mindset, grit, and goals with our readers. Worst to First—pretty cool!

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