Connecting Our Work to Move from Theoretical to Practical

Our SMART Goal:  By June 2015, ___%* of the learners (inclusive of all adults and students) in SGDSB will demonstrate growth in their efficacy towards learning as measured by surveys and exit cards**.  

*yet to be determined      **(summarized for this post)

As a district, we are working hard at figuring out how to move the adults and the students (all of whom are learners!) towards adopting a growth mindset. It seems that we have a pretty good understanding of what a growth mindset is (theoretically). We know that having a growth mindset is at the core of achieving our Learner Centered Environment, and we know that our Conditions for Learning are part of the HOW of achieving that learning mindset. The Assessment for Learning Strategies and Key Components (from Black and Wiliam, 1998) are the teaching and learning strategies that the Conditions for Learning are in service to.  Thus, while this work is complex, growth in any area will likely impact the others. Have a look at a this draft visual representation of our Board Learning Plan work.

Connections between Mindset, C4L, A4L

The following article also supports these connections:

Our SMART goal (above) is the result of the realization of our Conditions for Learning within an Assessment for Learning Culture in every learning environment – classroom, school, PLC, etc, in our district. Anyone who is teaching anything to anyone needs to embed our Conditions for Learning and the Assessment for Learning strategies and 5 Key elements – it is only this way that we will begin to see if our theory of action (below) is true.

If we foster learner centered environments and pedagogy, then learners will possess an increased sense of belonging and be motivated to learn.  

While this level of understanding is essential,  we need to dig deeply into how we create this growth mindset in every learner -in both the adults (think about your own mindset as a leader) and the students – as we strive to create and foster the learner centered culture in our district. We know that there is need to fully understand our own mindsets, as learners.  To do this, we need to engage in our own personal self-reflections against indicators of a growth mindset. For our student learners, there is a need to explicitly teach what it means to have a growth mindset, and to foster this type of thinking in our schools.  This is the practical work…and it is only the practical work that will lead us to full integration into who we are as learners.  We need to practice and model having a growth mindset in order to fully realize the impact and the potential of this way of being. As Will Smith says, “you have to believe it”! ( )

Below are links to a couple of excellent resources that will help us (I was planning to write about the how, but honestly, these two documents capture the first steps nicely! )  (be sure to access some of the resources included in this blog as they lead you to tools that can be used in your work!)    Below are links to the videos that are mentioned in this document…   Will Smith…awesome!!!  (a series of videos from kids!) why you need to fail…another awesome video especially for our junior, intermediate and senior students!

We are well on our way to creating a school district that is learner centered. There is a strong awareness of the need to foster this environment.  Our work this year is to move the theoretical into the practical; to embed our understanding of the learner centered environment into our daily practice – to make it automatic…or a way of being.

Thoughts?  Does the connection between the work make sense?  Until next week…




6 responses

  1. In the article Growth Mindset in Context the authors address the need to maintain a sense of belonging as a fundamental driver of human motivation. If we want to nurture a
    growth mindset, we need classroom, school, and community cultures that reflect the language and expectations that come with it. Although our conditions for learning include building relationships we need to explicitly include within this principle the sense of belonging.

    You have posted some great resources! I spent more time on your blog this morning than I should have!


  2. Reblogged this on Director's Newsletter and commented:
    Great list of resources on Growth Mindset!


  3. “Our work this year is to move the theoretical into the practical; to embed our understanding of the learner centered environment into our daily practice – to make it automatic…or a way of being.”

    This is the area of focus that i have had for the past year. Moving from the theoretical to the practical. The drive that should get us all there is “what are our deepest beliefs around teaching and learning?” If we believe that all kids can learn and if we are clear about this then we can be successful. Bruce Rodrigues presented to the SIM team in October and he said two things that I think apply to our notion of moving from paper to practice.
    #1. You are in charge of success
    #2. What gets monitored gets done


  4. Having taught kindergarten I have seen our students when they first begin school. All little ones have a growth mindset. As the years go by some students begin to try less and less. Some, for one reason or another, do not deal well with unsuccessful attempts at tasks and activities and their open mindset gradually begins to shift to a closed mindset. Educators too can become more and more closed as they deal with course content and making sure they ‘cover’ the curriculum.

    To me the practical application of a growth mindset in education begins with the educator’s mindset, but is reliant on the student also being receptive to the notion that all students can learn. Either/and/or both educators and students can become barriers to the implementation of a growth mindset in our classrooms.

    Challenge is what made me work harder and persevere until I understood. As I look around at students I see those who are motivated by challenge, those motivated by marks, and those whose motivation is unknown. All of these students figure out a way outside of the classroom to learn what they need in order to function and be successful when faced with challenges in their everyday life. What we need to do is harness that perseverance by endorsing the notion of a growth mindset and use it in classroom tasks and activities as students move from class to class and grade to grade.


  5. I have taught kindergarten for several years and this is the first year that I’ve come across a group of learners who say “I can’t do it” or “this is too hard’. Even just putting on snow pants or zipping up a jacket can set off a couple of my kids. My concern is where does this come from? We certainly aren’t advocating this mantra but I am worried about how often it is coming into the building, and how quickly some of kids give up on an activity. We are working hard this year to instill a growth mindset in our students but have to work on our parents and guardians. I’m not sure how to approach this and my staff and I are struggling to get the message out into the community in a positive way.


  6. […] try to reply with your ideas and thinking!!  What will result will benefit us all. Angela says: November 18, 2014 at 9:26 pm […]


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