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“Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.” – Carol Dweck

This week, in line with the above quote from Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, I had the pleasure of seeing the value of always striving for better alive and well at Valley Torah.

On Tuesday evening, I attended the first ComedySportz High School League match of Valley Torah’s second season. We played against i-Lead NoHo and both teams performed hilariously. However, there was something that was evident as I watch our students perform. They have grown so much in their craft.

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The majority of the team is made up of 11th graders who took our inaugural improv comedy course in 9th grade and, in 10th grade, formed the first and only Jewish High School ComedySportz Improv team in Los Angeles. They were certainly good last year when they competed, but anyone that was in attendance this past Tuesday night saw a much stronger, polished and sophisticated team. They were funny, creative and never broke out of a scene.

They grew as individuals and as a team. Why? Because they practiced, practiced, failed, succeed, messed up, practiced some more, stuck to it, pushed themselves, practiced and ultimately never gave up. Plus, they clearly don’t have any plans on sitting on their laurels moving forward as they will practicing weekly for their upcoming matches. They truly have a growth mindset.

It is wonderful to see the growth mindset among our students, but in any school, it can’t end with the students. The educators must also share the same value, which I am proud to say we do at Valley Torah. We offer extensive professional development opportunities, and recently we contracted with Learn-It Systems to provide professional development from The Tech Rabbi!

The Tech Rabbi (a.k.a. Rabbi Michael Cohen) is a consultant with a wealth of educational experience in the areas of innovative teaching and learning and educational technology integration. Rabbi Cohen met this week with a cohort of teachers from the General Studies team. He will continue to meet weekly with them to provide ongoing training throughout the year as well as go into the classrooms to provide personalized coaching. My team is made up of excellent teachers, but it is their thirst for constant professional growth that makes them second to none.

As Carol Dweck says, “Becoming is better than being.” This message was highlighted this week, but, more importantly, it is one that permeates our halls daily from our students and teachers. Have a great Shabbos and may it be one of growth and meaning.

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