SEL Awardee

Janet Lewis Muth

Faribault Public Schools
Faribault, MN
“At its heart, this project is about embedding an asset-based mindset into the fabric of our district, focusing on a population of students for whom deficit-thinking is the unfortunate norm: English Learners (ELs). While we already have a universal SEL program in place at the elementary level, there is evidence that the curriculum alone is not enough to address disparities in outcomes. For example, EL students are sent out of the classroom for discipline referrals or referred to school social workers at a much higher rate than their non-EL counterparts. It is our contention that these students are the victims of a deficit mindset in which they are held to expectations that are inappropriate. If we bolster teachers' abilities to actively embrace an asset-based mindset, several things will happen: 1. students will recognize their own assets and grow in their confidence and self-efficacy; 2. the opportunity gap will be mitigated as teachers see students' potential more clearly and offer opportunities for students to capitalize on their strengths; and 3. staff will see the benefits of using an asset-based mindset not just for ELs, but for all students. Our hope (though not our primary goal) is that using an asset-based mindset will also make coming to work more fun for those teachers who are most burned out and consequently most likely to see their students through a deficit lens - setting in motion a kind of upward spiral.”
Tags: District, Elementary School, ELs, Rural, Traditional Public School