Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fostering a Growth Mindset

Ask "How will they learn best?" Not "Can they learn?" ~ Jaime Escalante
cc flickr photo by azjd
Look closely on a junior high school campus, or in a junior high school classroom, and you will see a lot of uncertainty.  It is simply an awkward age.  Not only do social situations generate anxiety, but many students have already developed a keen sense of their academic challenges (i.e. "I'm not good at math," or "I don't like to read.") which add another level of discomfort to school.  By the time they have reached seventh grade, many students have experienced multiple years of academic challenge, and even failure.  They exhibit what Carol Dweck would say is a "fixed mindset" about learning.  These students feel like "what you see is what you get," many believing that they have little (or no) control over their level of intelligence.

As educators, our words matter.  The way we talk to our students, the type of feedback we give, and the little things we do to encourage students are essential to helping them acquire a "growth mindset" -- the belief that their intelligence can be developed through hard work, practice, and persistence.  As teachers, it is critical that we work with our students in ways that foster the belief that intelligence is a product of effort, and that we establish classrooms where grit and tenacity are encouraged.

For an excellent overview of the ideas behind a growth mindset (and the impact that it has in the classroom), check out this brief TED Talk, by Eduardo Briceno.

In the Education Week Article, Classroom Strategies to Foster a Growth Mindset, by Larry Ferlazzo, Professor Carol Dweck and Dr. Lisa Blackwell suggest the following strategies for establishing a classroom environment that encourages growth:

  • Establish high expectations
  • Create a risk tolerant learning zone
  • Give feedback that focuses on process -- the things that students can control, like their effort, challenge-seeking and persistence
  • Introduce students to the concept of the malleable mind -- research that indicates that our brains develop through effort and learning

Larry Ferlazzo, has compiled a great list of resources to aid teachers who would like to focus on helping their students develop a growth mindset: The Best Resources on Helping Our Students Develop a Growth Mindset.  You will also want to check out the Mindset Works website, for more ideas of how you can incorporate Carol Dweck's research in your classroom.

How do you foster a growth mindset with your students?

No comments:

Post a Comment