Our system wide professional learning day is rapidly approaching; a day which is focused on numeracy. Our Conditions for Learning are the foundation for achieving success in numeracy; thus we will spend time in the morning on that day analyzing these conditions in relation to our adult learning. Specifically, we will spotlight Growth Mindset – a condition for learning that has received much attention in the past couple of years. The next few postings will hopefully inspire all of our leaders to post their thinking.
I included the graphic above as I believe that this is a simple way to get us thinking about how what we say and do (what we model) daily really says a great deal about our mindset. Last year I engaged in a mindset quiz and was shocked (and appalled) at my outcome – I had more of a fixed mindset. My reaction to the results actually supported the results – as I immediately began to self-reflect in order to prove that the results were wrong. What an excellent example of a fixed mindset in action…to begin to argue with a computer to justify why it was wrong, instead of thinking about how with effort, motivation and perseverance (grit), I could improve my learning and leading stance.
Since then, I have increased my awareness in one area that I know makes a difference in fostering a growth mindset – that of praise. In my educational life, I have been immersed in learning about feedback and the difference between praise and feedback. I recall leading professional learning sessions where we provided a document that distinguished between praise and feedback and the conversation that resulted; educators began to see that precise feedback according to the learning goals and criteria for success (outcome) was critical to move thinking forward, while praise was an essential part of encouraging the process or the action that the students engaged in. For example, telling a student that I noted that they “worked hard on their assignment” is praise that encourages a growth mindset. David Sousa in How the Gifted Brain Learns (2009) points out that “children who are praised for their intelligence learn to value performance, while children praised for their efforts and hard work value opportunities to learn” (pg. 34).
Do the students in your buildings understand that they can make their brains grow? How is this work embedded into our school learning plans? Are we explicitly teaching students to have a growth mindset? Can you provide some examples? Until next week…