Is Growth Mindset a Sliding Spectrum?
I want to swim in the deep, murky waters of nuance when it comes to growth mindset. Maybe I need some lessons.
This is how Royan Lee finishes off his article on Growth Mindset. It is a good place to finish a post on how we develop our own growth mindset. This is something I am thinking about this year. Our board has made this an important initiative this year for all of us and I know many school boards conducted studies and research on this last year.
I think as teachers, we get into this profession because we believe in having a growth mindset. I think it is a great focus for our school board. I really like how Lee used the ‘How to Learn Math’ series by Jo Boaler in his post. He is following the series and I am going to encourage our teachers to do the same thing.
This will be a good series for me too – I actually said in a staff meeting ‘I never could teach math’ …good start!
For us, the challenge of growth mindset will be transferring this to our students and parents. I know I have lots to learn about all of this, but my first thought is that we need to make sure our students believe in themselves. They need to know that they can make a fundamental change in their living circumstances.
One of my goals this year will be to have a growth mindset for myself, the staff, students and our parent community. Where can we growth, where can we move to.
People with a growth mind-set don’t put people in categories and expect them to stay there, but people with a fixed mind-set do. They not only believe in fixed traits, but they also believe that they can quickly and accurately judge those traits. This means that once they have decided that someone is or is not capable, they are not very open to new information to the contrary. And they may not mentor people who they have decided are not capable.
When teachers decide that certain students are not capable (or when principals decide that certain teachers are not capable), they may not take steps to help them develop their potential. In a recent study, people who had a fixed or growth mind-set and were asked to respond to a seventh-grade student who had received a poor grade on the first mathematics test of the year. Those who had a fixed mind-set comforted the student and told the student that not everyone could be good in mathematics.
In sharp contrast, those who had a growth mind-set said that they knew that the student could do better, encouraged the student to try harder, and gave the student specific suggestions for study and learning strategies. For the educator with a fixed mind-set, learning is the students’ responsibility. If students don’t have what it takes, so be it. But for the educator in a growth mind-set, learning is a collaboration in which the teacher has great responsibility.
It is essential for educators to communicate that they hold a growth mind-set. Recently, we studied college sports teams. At the beginning of the year, we asked athletes to tell us how much they thought their coaches believed success came from natural talent and how much they thought their coaches believed success came from practice and hard work. The more that athletes thought their coaches believed in hard work over natural talent, the better the athletes did that year. Students know what educators value—they pick up their messages and act on them.
We will try all sorts of projects to see if we can encourage a growth mindset – right now we are trying to redevelop our entire schoolyard. It is a bit of a crazy idea, but it is capturing the imagination of our kids and teachers. If you push hard enough, what can you achieve?
Leadership is a learning journey – I totally agree with Lee – I will need lots of lessons! Discuss this month how you as a leader can help promote and grow the “mindset” on your campus.