What is Mindset?
Before I begin, I’d like to put in Carol Dweck’s explanation of her research on fixed and growth mindsets for anyone new to the idea.
…students who believed their intelligence could be developed (a growth mindset) outperformed those who believed their intelligence was fixed (a fixed mindset). And when students learned through a structured program that they could “grow their brains” and increase their intellectual abilities, they did better. Finally, we found that having children focus on the process that leads to learning (like hard work or trying new strategies) could foster a growth mindset and its benefits.
You may also want to check out the article I took this quote from: Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’.
In the past…
I always thought developing a growth mindset in the younger years would come from how the teacher sets the tone in the classroom. And I have always worked hard to do this, saying things like “Your brain is a muscle, the more you work things out, the stronger it gets!” or “Instead of saying ‘This is too hard’, we say ‘I’m still working on it.”
But is that enough?
During my first week back to school this year, I had an experience that made me question my mindset teaching strategy.
One of my happiest new 7-year-olds is a fantastic reader. She could sit in the corner of the room giggling at a Junie B. Jones book for hours. But this week, while we were working on number patterns, I noticed her engagement waning. She gradually started looking at her shoes and the rug more than at what we were working on. She had found the content difficult and given up.
Still trying to set the tone of hard work and perseverance, I stopped the lesson and we had our first class discussion on how we learn. The kids couldn’t think of a single time when they had learned something without participating and trying their best. With my lead, they came to the consensus that they need to keep trying different strategies, even when math got challenging. The student who unknowingly began this discussion then raised her hand to say, “I think I gave up back there. Did I?”
I put up my math and reading strategies on the walls, why not learning strategies?
I felt so great about her revelation that I knew I would want to refer back to it in the future. The question was, how? A few ideas popped into my head, but nothing got me excited enough to write a blog post until I saw this.
It visually shows kids what it looks like to have a growth mindset and what it looks like to have a set mindset. It even looks a bit like a brain scan with the brain lighting up when it is learning.
More importantly, this will be a reference for my students and we will be able to refer back to it as we create an atmosphere of growth and safety this year.
You can get this bulletin board from Emily Edelle’s TpT here.