Growth Mindset at Play

It all started with a group of rowdy puppies—or should we say fourth graders—in February when the 2021 Lower School musical was first announced. Yelps of excitement could be heard coming from the fourth grade classroom as students shared their enthusiasm for this year’s show, 101 Dalmatians, and began talking about the different parts in store for them. 
One thing that was notably absent, however, were complaints about putting on a different kind of production this school year. Typically, the Lower School musical is performed in December as a sendoff to winter break, but this year, the production wraps in May and will be shown to families prior to summer break. Throughout this unpredictable year, the Class of 2029 has shown time and again the power of their growth mindsets, impressing their teachers, families, and peers along the way with their persistence, perseverance, and positive outlook.

In the classroom, grade 4 students learned the value of a growth mindset through their historical studies. They learned about the difficulties those who migrate face(d), the struggles of life during the Great Depression, and the obstacles influential women throughout history overcame during their wax museum project. Alongside their teachers, students talked about the power of perseverance and why setbacks are opportunities, not failures. Throughout these learning experiences, Ellis girls became increasingly familiar with the idea of practicing resilience in the face of difficulty, which served them well as they began auditions and rehearsals for the musical. 

They wasted no time exercising their adaptability and flexibility as they dove into learning the songs, both independently and as a cast, at a faster than normal pace. Because vocals had to be recorded outdoors and completed prior to stage rehearsals, students had to learn the songs quickly, practice outside (even if it was snowing or raining), and commit fully through less than ideal circumstances in order to finish in time.

“This year’s show taught the girls that sometimes you have to make compromises and concessions to get things done,” shared Jayla Griggs, Lower School Music Teacher. “Once they embraced the challenge, they worked so hard as a team and really leaned on each other. I’m so proud of them for putting their all into the musical after a hard year. They truly gave it their best effort and should be celebrated.” 

After learning the music, the class moved their energy to the stage and began blocking the show under the direction of Lydia Gibson, Performing Arts Teacher. Students learned the dance numbers, basic theater etiquette, how to maneuver their props and the sets, and how to think on their feet if they forgot a line or missed their cue. Together, they relished in their responsibilities as a cast and crew, effectively learning how to push through problems (like ample voice projection while wearing a mask) as a team. The end result? An action-packed show complete with pre-recorded cameos from students in pre-kindergarten through grade 3, an unforgettable Cruella DeVil, and a cohort of outrageously cute canines.

“The fourth graders were entirely supportive of one another through the process, no matter the circumstances,” said Ms. Gibson. “They still found ways to collaborate and add their own creative flair to the show and worked together to pull it off on stage. Even though it’s not a typical musical this year, the girls were so excited and happy to be part of this community tradition.”
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