I’m very grateful to be here at the 3-day MAP Conference in South San Francisco — finally got to meet Malcolm Swan whose lessons I’ve used with my students for many years. I was delighted to see this slide because we did this lesson and it was one of my favorites.

At the end of today’s session, we were asked to share questions that we may have for tomorrow’s panel of speakers. A teacher asked this question, and it stayed with me. He said something like this:

The students in the video [during Malcolm’s talk] are awesome. But my students are not there. They are at zero. Not even zero, they are at negative something…

Negative?? Zero??

It made me sad to hear this. No matter how “low” his students are, no matter how out-of-control they appear, no matter how unmotivated they seem, they cannot be at level zero. That’s impossible.

We talk a lot about students’ mindsets. I worry more about the teacher’s mindset. Maybe this teacher didn’t mean it the way I’d heard it; but I’ve heard teachers say directly to me, “My kids can’t do that.”

How do we know that unless we give them a chance.