- Created on Wednesday, 01 June 2011 17:37
- Written by Lisa Blackwell
Not Just for Kids! Mindset Works Creating New Tools to Cultivate a Growth Mindset School Community
What would it be like if your school were a true “Growth Mindset Community”?
Administrators would support teachers’ learning, rather than just trying to weed out the “bad apples.” They would be responsive to honest feedback, rather than defensive. They would seek to build their skills, and be willing to learn from their teachers.
Teachers would collaborate with their colleagues and instructional leaders, rather than shutting their classroom doors and flying solo. They would strive to strengthen their own practice, rather than blaming others. They would truly believe that all their students can learn and succeed—and show it.
Parents would support their children’s learning both inside and outside the classroom. They would be partners with teachers, and responsive to outreach. They would worry less about advocating for their children to get good grades, and focus more on making sure they were being challenged and putting in the effort needed to grow.
And your students would be enthusiastic, hard-working, persistent learners—and never lose their homework! (Okay, maybe not that last part!)
One of the many lessons that we have learned from the wonderful growth-minded teachers we’ve been lucky to work with over the past decade is that teaching students a growth mindset is essential—but support in the classroom and school community is also vital to ensuring that all students are able to realize the full benefit of a growth mindset. So we have embarked on a new project to develop a set of resources to support schools in transforming their culture—the Growth Mindset Learning Platform.
Under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, Small Business Innovation Research program, Mindset Works has begun to develop and pilot tools and resources that teachers and administrators can use to cultivate growth mindset thinking in their school communities. We have engaged some of your colleagues—administrators, coaches, teachers, and parents—in this effort.
Here are some of the resources that we are developing:
- Professional development resources for educators that use key findings from psychology and neuroscience to support growth mindset teaching and learning practices.
- Tools and activities to use with students that help them to understand and apply the growth mindset to their own lives.
- Guides to using the growth mindset approach in staff collaboration and development.
- A toolkit for parents that schools can use to introduce the growth mindset and help parents to support it at home.
- Planning tools for administrators and teachers to ensure effective implementation of growth mindset training in their classrooms.
- An online community for growth mindset learners to share ideas, challenges, and effective practices.
Results from our recent school pilot study:
We recently completed the first phase of development and pilot-testing, and the preliminary results were very encouraging. They showed that teachers who used the professional development resources had an increased sense of self-efficacy as teachers, and reported using more growth mindset classroom practices, after the training. Students—especially those who began with a fixed mindset—developed a growth mindset, increased their effort, and showed improved achievement after using the Brainology program.
Here are some of the things that teachers and students told us about what they learned from the program:
Teachers’ reflections on the professional development content and impact on practice:
- I think that both my students and I have a lot of misconception about learning and retaining information. I think that what I learned about the idea of many learning experiences over time relevant to the same topic will definitely influence my teaching. The idea of spiraling back to a topic is really interesting to me. Also, the notion that if you consider something easy then you are smart or that is your view of someone else where really you prove your ability and knowledge when you are challenging yourself to try something new. I think this idea is definitely something that I would want to present to my students.
- Very relevant! Shifts focus in the classroom--emphasis should not be on working hard to get good grades, but on working hard to learn and improve skills.
- The kids' testimony about their beliefs [were valuable]--it's very interesting that the kids could sit down and give such real answers. It was interesting to see their different personalities. It was also interesting and heartening that researchers are learning from kids.
- Understanding how the different parts of the brain function and what they control [was useful] because it gives me a better idea of how the different phases of learning process works and where it is occurring.
- It is relevant to helping students really remember information over the long term. The idea of distributed practice is useful and reminds me to spiral back to previously learned material. The idea of "desirable challenge" is also applicable and interesting -- I think the idea is to come back to material cold and have students need to work to remember it to strengthen those pathways.
- I have seen a great change in the 6th grade students this year, especially when I explain to them the importance of doing, for example, choral reading in the class.
Students’ reflections on what they learned in the Brainology curriculum:
- It was helpful because it makes you want to make your brain stronger . . . now I know better how to help myself learn. It helps you feel more optimistic and in control--that you can exercise your brain and make it really strong. It motivates you to exercise your brain.
- It was fun to do it and I learned a lot. I think it will help me because of all the study techniques I learned.
- I learned that every time you learn something new it makes your brain bigger and stronger. It's helpful for me because it makes me want to learn more things, so that I can be smarter.
Based on feedback from our pilot participants, we are developing and fine-tuning the Growth Mindset Learning Platform resources, and will roll out the next pilot in several schools next fall and winter.
Tell us what you need to support the growth mindset in your school!
I would love to hear from you with requests, suggestions, and experiences of your own regarding resources that would be valuable to you, your colleagues, and your students. Please write your comments below. I’ll review the comments and answer questions on Friday, June 24th.
Interested in joining an educators’ advisory panel?
Interested in participating in the 2011-12 pilot study?
- Name of school, location, and grades (e.g., K-6, 6-8)
- Your role in the school community