Over the past two years I have given several talks about coaching kids to have a growth mindset in the math classroom along with my colleague Marlo Warburton (who happens to have her own, fabulous, homemade Khan-Academy-esque homework help videos). One artifact from these talks is a Google Doc. which is shared among all the teachers who have attended one of our workshops. On it, teachers add quotes, articles and videos which they have used when coaching kids to work on having a growth mindset. This video about 9-year-old Ezra French, born with two limb disabilities, was recently shared on that Google Doc. I don’t know who shared it, but I love that new ones pop up there every now and again.
After watching it with Egan, I asked him his reaction. He first said, “I have a lot of challenges too.” I resisted my inclination to point out that Ezra’s physical challenges far exceeded Egan’s and instead asked him to tell me more about how he felt a personal connection to Ezra. He talked about how he can relate to Ezra in sports and that he often feels like he has to try a lot harder than other kids to do well in sports. He’s right. Again, I bit my tongue to not say, “Yeah, but look at how much HARDER he has to work.”
Egan was fascinated that Ezra has two limb-disabilities and knew the term from a friend in his class who has one as well. I asked him what Ezra said that was most meaningful to him and he repeated that he felt close to Ezra because he has a lot of challenges just like Egan does. I really wanted to talk with him about how much you can overcome and accomplish when you really dedicate yourself to something you love, but Egan’s attention was rapidly waning. He asked to watch the video a second time, which he did, riveted.
I again asked him what Ezra had said that he could relate to and REALLY wanted him to say, “I have to think about what I have instead of what I don’t have.” But he just wanted to return to sorting his Pokemon cards. So I shared that quote, telling him that this was the part of what Ezra said that was most meaningful to me. He was nonplussed. How quickly I forget that his attention span for these conversations is so brief. It’s intense when it’s there. And then it’s gone. Our few moments, though, were quite meaningful.