If you have been in education (or even the business world) for any length of time, “Growth Mindset” is a buzz phrase that we are hearing everywhere these days. The research is pretty exciting–and Carol Dweck out of Stanford is doing some amazing things. If you haven’t taken the time to read about her work–or to watch some of her many short videos, I strongly encourage you to do so! The information being learned about how students learn, about the “affective” side of learning, the role of praise, and many other critical components of teaching is growing exponentially. We can start to take some steps to implement this new research now!
To begin, take a little listen to what Dweck has to say, and see if you don’t agree that we, as teachers, can take many steps to nurture a growth mindset in our students. She talks about many things, but especially about being careful about how we praise children, and the importance of valuing effort more than results.
Fixed Versus Growth Mindset
What is the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset? To keep it simple, students with a fixed mindset truly believe that they are pre-programmed for a certain level of success. “I’m a terrible reader.” or “My dad is bad at math too.” You’ve heard these things–maybe you’ve even said them about your own life! In actuality, scientists have learned that students CAN improve performance–and their attitudes and mindsets can actually rewire their brains in a way that allows for better learning. Enlightening students about this gives them so much power!
In my classroom, we started this year really digging into this concept and sharing some short videos and books that provided my 4th graders with some evidence of the brain science. When they saw it written right at their level, you could almost FEEL their eyes locked in. In fact, we did a number of activities from the “Week of Inspirational Math” out of Stanford which is all about teaching students about a growth mindset. Want to check it out? CLICK HERE! It would be a great thing to do at ANY point in the year to reinforce these ideas. They update this every year so there are TONS of ideas from past years to refer to.
What Did We Do?
To really put my students in positions to dive into “growth mindset”, we did all sorts of cooperative challenges. In addition, we worked to solve math problems with many answers instead of just one “right” one. We stacked Oreos for on online data project which was a BLAST! We also worked on jigsaw puzzles in teams. which was fascinating to watch (many students had very little experience with this!). Finally, we did STEM challenges–all with the intent of putting students in positions to practice using the language of a growth mindset. We didn’t allow comments like:
This is too hard.
I can’t do it.
I’m not smart enough.
Nope. Simply not allowed. I can’t do it YET was allowed–and then we work toward the “YET”!
So I wanted to make sure my students had the “language” and terminology needed to be able to work on these growth mindset activities. They needed coaching on the words to say to REPLACE the fixed mindset phrases they had grown accustomed too. Similarly…we looked at phrases that we might have heard people say before and talked about how they either represented a “not yet” mindset–or one that was fixed and shut down learning.
Want to try some of these growth mindset activities with your OWN students? Just grab this resource and give it a try!
Interested in watching a little more of the research behind this movement? These two videos are fantastic–so grab a can of Pringles and settle in!
(Here is the book “Mindset” if you want to read even more…it’s a GREAT, easy to read book!)
Follow me on…