Middle School Director Karen Pavliscak teaches middle school about growth mindset, sloths


Photo credit: Lola Lamberg

Middle School Director Karen Pavliscak speaks to the middle school on the “importance of a growth mindset.” Pavliscak frequently ties in pictures of animals, such as sloths, as an aspect of her presentations.

During middle school community connections on Wednesday, Jan. 16, Middle School Director Karen Pavliscak flicked through projected slides of sloth photographs in the Rose Room as middle schoolers giggled. The presentation, however, was not revolving around sloths, but rather the “importance of a growth mindset.”

To connect the two facets of her presentation, Pavliscak shared an anecdote about how she used to dismiss sloths as slow. It was only through a growth mindset, she said, that she was able to look beyond her initial judgments. She then applied this to life, telling students that willingness to adapt is critical to building resilience.

“I wanted to talk about the growth mindset and have the [middle school students be] aware of their optimism,” Pavliscak explained. “I wanted them to see possibility where they may have seen struggle.”

Pavliscak, who has been the Middle School Director at Archer for the past 11 years, has continued the conversation of the “growth mindset” in contrast to the “fixed mindset;” encouraging students to fail and learn from their mistakes. Pavliscak started her presentation by questioning the students on the “difference between growth and fixed mindset.”

“People who have a fixed mindset always strive for perfect,” seventh-grader Stephanie Harrison said after her hand shot up in response. “People with a growth mindset always strive for better.”

Pavliscak responded to Harrison by revealing that the use of the word “perfect” makes her “nervous.”

Eighth-grader Isabel Stone reflected on the impacts on her presentation and has set a “leave-fixed-mindset-behind” goal for her future self.

“I learned a lot about growth mindsets and I’ll think about it a lot more in the future,” Stone said. “I will try not to have a fixed mindset and be open to more things.”