A classroom that lives, breathes, and models growth mindsets

Check out this cool Zaption on Angela Duckworth’s TED talk: http://www.zaption.com/tours/5306e72721a59a5e600002b1

Now that I have pulled growth mindset into the forefront of my imagination this year, I have been seeing its implications everywhere: from how I consider the first weeks of school to how I have been thinking about my own Cohort 21 research this year.

I had a mini-panic moment wondering if I’m investigating growth mindset in grade 7 because it is a familiar area or if it will push me and challenge me to new understandings. I think this is a question we should be asking ourselves more (for example: am I designing this project because it will be easy to mark / I’ve done it before / it is safe or it is the best challenge for my students?).

It is probably fair to say that topics like growth mindset, appropriate praise, and grit have been making their rounds in hallways and staff rooms for some time now.  While I don’t think the idea that intelligence can be grown is new or challenging territory for me, I don’t yet have a road map for how to share this perspective with my students. I was certainly soothed when I was re-watching Angela Duckworth’s TED talk and she said, “…to me the most shocking thing about grit is how little we know, how little sciences knows, about building it.”

From my reading, I know that exposing students to this research and giving them a working understanding of how the brain works is one step in the right direction, but I also want to embed ideas of growth mindset into the projects I design this year. I want the “interventions”, yes, but I also want to design a classroom that lives, breathes, models, and expects students to demonstrate their grit, growth, and perseverance in the face of challenges. I think I owe that much to the children in my care this year.

So, my research to-do list (what to do before my action plan gets hammered out) is getting a little brush up:

In order to investigate how to foster an academic / growth mindset in my grade 7 students, I will…

1) Investigate how academic / growth mindsets fit into the positive psychology framework (something I’m curious to learn more about)?

2) Figure out what technology resources exists that could support the development of growth / academic mindsets?

3) Research what other educators are doing in their classrooms / school to embed this philosophy into their pedagogy?

4) Design the first Grade 7 project to foster a growth mindset and reflect on the results.

6) I’ve read a bit about growth mindsets, I’m seeing people write about “academic mindsets”, but are there other mindsets that I should consider exposing my students to?

6) What would a best-case scenario look like in my classroom / my school after embarking on this year of action research?

My intention is to explore one of these above questions in a blog post over the next 2 months of school (I’m going to be a busy girl).

While I am gearing up for this I need your help: how could project work support growth mindset ideas? What have you done in your classroom (other than just explaining the different mindsets) that helped your students through first-hand experience see that their success is linked with sustained effort? 

All of your ideas are needed…they will help my intelligence about growth mindsets grow!

About the Author
Passionate and curious about technology, smiles, special education, differentiated instruction, forests, graphic novels, accessibility, anti-oppression, and warm beverages. Can often be found laughing with young people and improvising songs on the spot. @teach_tomorrow

2 comments on A classroom that lives, breathes, and models growth mindsets

  1. Fresh Air says:

    I wish I could say that I’ve done great projects with my own students that support growth mindsets, but unfortunately I am not in that department yet. But I do know this: when kids get super excited about something they learn, they want to find out more. Many of them go and look up the subject and find everything that has been written. Some of them even embark on great journeys of learning, checking for updates every now and then.

    Encourage them to look back on what made them learn so much. Then they’ll say, Hey, I understand this now! This is amazing! And it was because I really payed attention and cared…

    And if they don’t, they’ll probably want to go back and pay attention to the detail.

    I have seen this kind of thing happen from my changing perspective. I hope this helps, even if only a tiny little bit.

  2. Fresh Air says:

    I love this idea of telling kids about growth mindsets. They will likely sense that they are becoming part of something greater than themselves.

    Though projects do play a big part in the classroom, there is a lot to be said for relationships and how you speaks to your students. If they feel as if they really are part of something greater than themselves, they are likely to want to find out more. And if it is proved to them that their ideas have value in the greater scheme of things, commenting on the internet under fakes names will be irresistible.

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