A growth mindset isn’t a trendy buzzword. It means to push students to thrive on challenge and to look at setbacks as opportunities for growth and developing skills. Trevor Tran, Director of Vocal Arts and Head of Performing Arts at Fort Myers High School in Florida, integrates this philosophy into his classroom. “Every year during the first week of school, I give a short presentation about growth mindset,” he says. “We discuss our biology and the natural learning processes of our brain in order to show how humans learn. This helps students understand how our abilities and intelligence can improve and grow.”
Tran takes this lesson beyond the first week of school “Throughout the year, students have individual goals that they work toward and track, and we strive as a class and as individuals to improve,” he explains. “The main message I want to share with other music educators is how growth mindset boosts intrinsic motivation. Students exposed to the idea are more likely to overcome adversity and have more confidence in themselves.”
And adversity has not been a stranger to Tran’s students and his music program. On top of the disruption and change from the pandemic, the Fort Myers area was hit hard by Hurricane Ian in September 2022, which devastated the community. “Despite all the challenges, my students have continued to make great strides toward becoming better musicians, and I know that they will be ready for the real world because of all the obstacles they have overcome,” Trans says proudly.
Outside of his work at Fort Myers High, Tran is expanding the musical offerings in his area. He started the Southwest Florida Choral Festival to provide the public schools and the Lee County community an opportunity to engage with high-quality choral educators. Tran’s plan includes pooling together resources and hosting a well-known choral educator in Southwest Florida to present sessions, clinic choral groups in the area and put on a showcase concert with students from the public schools. “During the past two years, we have set the foundation and started to build. The goal is to engage and collaborate with more groups to expand the event,” Tran explains.
Another project that Tran is involved in is the Composition Colloquium, a composition education initiative sponsored by the Florida Vocal Association, which was started because there was a lack of educational resources for students interested in composition. “Since its inception, I have led workshops and private composition lessons with students across the state of Florida. These students have ranged from beginning composers to advanced writers who have composed multiple works. We hope to continue providing this resource to Florida students to help usher in the next generation of composers,” Tran says.