November 20, 2020



A Growth Mindset for Remote Times

Each EmpowerED 3.2.1 features a brief summary of my musings about and learning from multiple disciplines as they apply to leadership in education.


As closures and distance are the norm, I find our family needing a longer-term approach to combat the isolation that seems to have crept into our home. My teenage son misses his routine, his friends, his teachers, and our family. I worry about him and the other students affected by the solitude, decreased resiliency and the continual time online. At first, the solitude was welcomed as a way for us to slow down and reconnect as families. Yet, as we ponder the holidays without them and friends, I feel the solitude shift to isolation. I was reminded by a recent McKinsey & Company report on strategy and corporate finance that short-term temptations are appealing, but it takes a focus on the long term to create value in business, education, and family-life that has lasting impact. Here are a few ideas to keep focused on the long term while dealing with the short term.


3 Big Ideas


  1. Adopt a “Fresh Start” Mindset and Keep Moving Forward
    The Covid-19 crisis has disrupted American business and education in ways we’ve never seen before. No one is experiencing business as usual, but women—especially mothers (more than fathers), senior-level women and Black women—have faced distinct challenges trying to work and school their children. The “Women in the Workplace 2020” report from McKinsey & Company outlines the current and pressing problem and offers solutions for corporate America that we in education can learn from this too. We can also remember each day can be a fresh start at achieving those longer-term goals and projects. “10 Ways to Reboot Your Life and Get a Fresh Start” by Marelisa Fabrega who blogs at Daring to Live Fully offers some great strategies to get back on the track you want. My favorite from her 10 are the Diet Reboot, the Closet Reboot, and the Goal Reboot. Tomorrow’s a new day to start again.

  2. Learn Something New
    There are so many things that hold us back from learning something new.  One of the main things that holds us back is a fear of failing.  Embarking on something new involves risk and a certain degree of humility.  There is a chance that what we set out to learn is going to be too challenging or that we might not be successful in that area. Another thing that hold us back is time and energy. Learning a new skill or subject will take effort and this often means prioritizing the learning in our busy lives. It can feel overwhelming to know where to start and how to find the time. When we learn a new skill or subject we satisfy our curiosity, feel a renewed sense of purpose, strengthen our minds, stimulating curiosity and increase our self-confidence.  In addition, we push ourselves past our comfort zone and discover new things, not only about the skill or subject, but also about ourselves. Often times learning a new skill or practice becomes a positive distraction from the routine of our lives. I am learning to play piano and to run. I recently gave a small recital for my family, picked up my sketch pad again, completed the Virtual Army 10-Miler last week and registered for a half marathon. My husband began an industry podcast and built a website from scratch and our son learned to play chess and is training our dogs. We look forward to our learning time and sharing our successes and challenges with each other. There are still many free ways to learn new things. Varsity Tutor offers free live online classes to learn from experts in their fields from dog training to art to space travel. Coursera continues to offer free university level classes in your field and outside your field.

  3. Treat Weekends Like Vacations
    What do you like to do on a vacation? Find small ways to create that vacation feeling on weekends. If you’re a mountain explorer, find a local trail, put on your hiking shoes and take a hike. Pack a backpack with snacks to enjoy along the way. If you’re a beachgoer, there are plenty to drive to and enjoy for the day. Fall is a great time to take a road trip to see the brilliant seasonal colors. Stop for cider and doughnuts along the way. Put the technology away and read a great book with a favorite beverage. Whatever you choose to do, use your weekends to refresh and reconnect. There haven’t been many vacations this year for any of us, so find ways to create the feeling of getting away. In looking towards the holidays without family, we’re looking for ways to make our celebrating special by preparing family recipes and making handmade gifts.  In “Vacation Mindset: How Weekends Can Be More Refreshing” Carla Fried at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management examines two studies that found that “when people are nudged to treat a weekend as a vacation they return to work on Monday happier than the control group that spent their weekend doing the same-old same-old.”


“The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” 
Brian Herbert, Chief Technology Officer at VSimple


“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day
with no mistakes in it yet?” 
– L.M. Montgomery, Canadian author of
Anne of Green Gables


1 Question

What bold steps are you taking to ensure your female employees
who are mothers are able to stay in the workforce?



About the Author: Marcia Baldanza is also the author of Professional Practices, a Just ASK Senior Consultant. and adjunct professor at Virginia Tech. Until recently she worked for the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, where she was an Area Director for School Reform and Accountability; prior to that she was Director of Federal and State Programs.










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