Encouraging a growth mindset

Here’s a cross-post from my staff memo blog…

Last school year I learned a great deal from the book Mindset, by Carol Dweck and shared my learning with you in this post. I don’t know if anyone else also read this book, but I am starting to notice a lot of classroom practices and teachers talking in ways to encourage students to have a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset.

In one classroom, students were discussing the following quote: “We all make mistakes. That’s why a pencil has an eraser.”  I’ve been lucky enough to get into several classrooms during the math talk time to hear students explain their thinking or to see students writing to “Puzzled Penguin” to tell him what math mistake he made.

In another classroom during science stations, students were told “Don’t worry if you get it wrong, just try to think of what it might be and then check to see if you’re right. Think about the new things you’re learning.”  At the end of this class period, students’ exit slips included listing 3 new things they learned.  What was most amazing to me is throughout this class period, one student stood out to me as the model reason of why we need to encourage students to have a growth mindset.  During an iPad quiz, I watched this student answer questions as quickly as possible and when she got them wrong, moved on without even paying attention to what the correct answer was so she could learn from it.  When she moved on to a partner quiz with student-made notecards, she was proud to share that she had 15 right and only 5 wrong. When I asked her what she learned from the 5 wrong she said, “oh, I guess I should look at them.”  At the end of the class period when students were given the exit slips on 3 new things they learned, everyone started writing, but this student said, “I didn’t learn anything new.”

The teacher did everything she could to encourage students to focus on what new things they were learning, however, this particular student has already become so used to focusing on getting the right answers, that she hasn’t learned how to learn from the wrong answers.  She was my “aha moment” of why we need to continue our work on helping our students to become passionate about learning, develop a growth mindset, and learn from mistakes.

If you’re looking for great posters/quotes on this topic, I found great ones from Krissy Venosdale.  Here are some of my favorites:

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