In her Year 1/2 class Ange works with her students to develop a learning goal each term. These are laminated and placed on the student desks and referenced regularly through the term.
Ange helps the students to keep focussed on their goals by having students record each time they do something that helps them work towards achieving their goal.
She also hands out “Goal Striver of the Week” awards to help keep students attention on their goals and provide positive reinforcement.
While Ange spends considerable time and effort working with her students to reach their goals she also shares her own goals with students. Ange discusses her goals with students and models the process of working towards a goal. It helps to show students that working towards a goal is hard and does not always go smoothly, even for adults.
What Ange is doing is an excellent example of how teachers can model the behaviours they expect from their students.
In a nutshell Class Dojo is a classroom management system that allows teachers to monitor and acknowledge postive and negative behaviours and share this with students and parents. If you would like to know more about Class Dojo then click here.
Class Dojo has produced a five video series on growth mindset using the characters from the classroom management system. The videos explain Growth Mindset and its application focusing on the brain, the magic of mistakes, the power of yet and the world of neurons.
POST UPDATE 27 January 2017 – The complete set of these videos are no longer available on You Tube. They are available on the Class Dojo Big Ideas website.
Growth mindset is not new but is increasingly quoted and held up as good practice as part of teacher training and development and with good reason. However making it actually work or embedding it into the way we teach and therfore how students think is not something that is easily done. While posters and videos may inform us and our students of how growth mindset works it is how we use the concept in our daily lessons (reflected through our attitudes) that will change our students thinking.
In the video below Carol Dweck talks about a school she visited which instead of using a failing grade used the words “not yet”. As Carol discusses this simple wording sends a whole different message to students. Carol also talks about getting students to view “difficulty” and “effort” as the way to learn and improve and not as things that should make them feel like giving up or an indication they are dumb.
Are our classrooms places that encourage and teach a growth mindset, to view difficulty and effort as important keys to learning? NO I mean really, do we teach it!
Do we enter our classrooms expecting very little from some and a lot from others? We have all heard teachers make comments like, “I could write their reports now, their results won’t change much, I could have predicted it from the start of the year!” As easy as this and similar comments are to make they all contribute to the perception that some students in our classes will never amount to anything more than they already are. We don’t want to encourage a fixed mindset in our ourselves or our students.
Students soon pick up on our perceptions of them. If we have an attitude that they will never improve or don’t have the ability to do so then they will soon take on this attitude as well. As hard as it may be at times we need to teach students the value of effort and persistence with learning they find difficult.
I came across a version of this poster via @gregwhitby on Twitter (see below). The poster is a great reflection tool for the classroom allowing teachers to get students to self reflect about their growth mindset.
The poster above is one I put together (copying the original) with the thought that maybe it could be a useful resource for teachers. It provides a visual that allows us to challenge our students and ask the question, “which step have you reached?”
Carol Dweck’s research is well known and her findings have been used the world over with teachers when talking about how we praise our students. How do our actions impact on how our students see themselves? Do we encourage a fixed or growth mindset?
In a very simplified form Dweck’s research suggests that praising for intelligence and ability encourages a fixed mindset while praising for effort encourages a growth mindset. So knowing this how do we praise the students in our classes? If someone observed our classes over time what conclusion would they draw about how we offer praise?