Have you ever made a mistake? Have you ever faltered with a task that you simply gave up on? Let’s face it: life throws us challenges, and some are more likely to give up on those challenges than to embrace them, struggle through them, and ultimately learn and grow from the experience as a whole. Today, many students are in the same shoes as a large percentage of adults - unwilling to take on new learning, new adventures, new challenges. To help cultivate a willingness to grapple with difficult problems and to persevere both inside and outside of the classroom, many are turning toward the ideals of a Growth Mindset. Through cultivating a culture of growth, students’ minds evolve to having a willingness to try, to stick with a tough challenge, and make the most of each and every bump in the road they face.
Cuba-Rushford Elementary is home to some 60 or so fifth grade students. To help teach these students about having a growth mindset, Beatrice Bottomwell of The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes painted a picture of overcoming challenges and growing from the things that often get the best of us. In hearing main character Beatrice’s tale, students came to find that no one is perfect and that mistakes are okay; so long as we embrace them, and grow from them.
These same fifth graders were given a challenge: cut a piece of paper so that an adult could walk through it. Words such as “impossible,” “hard,” and “can’t” rang through the halls of CRCS. Cuts were made, paper was ripped, and students sat staring wondering how this challenge could ever be fulfilled. In talking about how the initial mistakes were made, and the emotions that the students felt, they learned; they grew. Before you knew it, these same fifth graders that had points of frustration and attitudes of “I give up” were walking through paper left and right!
As some students shared, making mistakes on math problems is common, and while thinking “we can’t” when faced with a tough problem, they come to realize that with effort and commitment, they can get through it. Others felt they simply couldn’t tumble, a recent unit of study in PE. Despite that belief, after practicing and asking for help, that attitude of “I can’t” turned to one of “I can.” Without realizing it, fifth graders were sharing stories of how they took a fixed mindset and transferred it to a mindset of growth.
As teachers, it is important to acknowledge when students are making the most of the mistakes they’ve made, learning how to overcome challenges and those bumps in the road. Whether it be a challenge in the classroom or a challenge in everyday life, having a growth mindset can help adults and students alike to have an attitude of CAN as opposed to an attitude of CAN’T. Students thrive in environments that support their growth as learners. By learning from Beatrice Bottomwell, and by embracing challenges such as the paper activity, students can begin to see that life is more about the journey than the destination; it’s more about the path we take to find success than the immediacy of doing well.
By: Lauren Stuff, CA BOCES Professional Development
“What did you learn today?
What mistake did you make today that taught you something? What did you try hard at today?
– Carol Dweck
Carol Dweck, a professor of Psychology and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, explains that there is something very important about the power of yet or not yet.
Dweck’s research reveals that people have views about themselves that change the way they interact with others, respond to failure, and deal with challenges. These views about themselves are labeled mindsets: the view you adopt for yourself.
This idea of a growth mindset can also be called the “power of yet.” In other words, you are not there yet, but you can get there. Dweck argues that the power of yet is in direct contrast to the “tyranny of now.” If you believe that you can grow and learn, you have the power of yet on your side. In contrast, if you feel that your intelligence is fixed and cannot be changed, you are stuck in the “now,” with no possibility of a “yet.” There is a high school in Chicago that lists students failing grades as “not yet,” rather than “fail,” indicating to students that they can succeed, they just are not there yet.
Are we raising our children for now or yet?
We all want our children to dream big dream. We want them to believe in the power of yet. We want them to see problems as challenges, not as crises. Research has shown that our mindsets are not set in stone. In other words, you can move from having a fixed mindset to having a growth mindset. But, how can we do this?
At BOCES, we have been offering Growth Mindset Workshops for teachers and administrators. Over 200 teachers have been trained over the past 2 years. Check out the upcoming offerings for next year at the following link; http://dev.caboces.org/iss/calendar
By Tessa Levitt, Staff Specialist for Professional Development
An idea that is beginning to gain a lot of favour in education at the moment is the notion of fixed versus growth mindsets, and how they might relate to students and learning. During the past few months, BOCES has offered two workshops entitled; “Mindsets in the Classroom.” More than 70 teachers and administrators have learned about Growth Mindset based on the work of Stanford University psychologist, Carol Dweck; the idea of mindset is related to our understanding of where ability comes from.
Growth mindset is a simple and powerful concept explained in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Essentially, if you have a growth mindset you believe your abilities — how smart you are, how you backhand a tennis ball, how well you manage your time — can improve with effort.
The alternative to growth mindset is fixed mindset: the belief that your abilities are already set.
Fixed mindset says, “I’m not good at reading.”
Growth mindset says, “I’m not good at reading right now, but I can get better if I work at it.”
As studies have shown, this simple difference is pretty powerful.
Growth mindset allows kids to see challenges as opportunities to grow rather than daunting judgments on who they are.
Some methods for developing growth mindsets in the classroom are:
Few would argue that calling a kid stupid is a good idea. What many find surprising, though, is that the opposite — calling a kid smart — is bad, too.
One of Dweck’s key studies illustrates this. In the study, Dweck took two groups of elementary students; one group was praised for being smart, the other was praised for working hard. After this, both groups were given the chance to take a challenging assessment. The “smart” group was hesitant to take the assessment, while the “hard working” group was open to trying.
What’s really crazy is that, when both groups were given the assessment, the “smart” group did not perform as well as the “hard-working” group.
Essentially, Dweck found that praising kids in a fixed manner — in this case, that their achievement was due to the fixed state of “being smart” — retards both their motivation to engage with challenges and with the actual performance on assessments, whereas praising kids in a growth manner — in other words, attributing their success to hard work — propels their growth in the long term.
So the first method for developing growth mindset is by being thoughtful with how you praise students.
Storytelling is powerful. Teachers must develop a go-to repertoire of stories that illustrate the power of hard work and growth mindset.
A great place to start for those stories: Dweck’s book. In the book, there is a large collection of illustrative anecdotes sprinkled throughout it. The next step would be reading biographies of people who have become successful through hard work. In the workshop we used TED videos and video clips of movies such as; “Finding Nemo”, “Facing the Giants”, “The Ron Clark Story”, “The Pursuit of Happiness”, and “Nike Commercials with Michael Jordan.”
So the second method for developing growth mindset is by sing stories, TED Talks and video clips about the power of perseverance, struggle, and growth.
Teach kids how their brains work:
The key idea about the brain to get across to kids is that the brain is like a muscle in that it can be developed and strengthened. There are many books and articles available to teach student’s how the brain works and grows over a lifetime.
So the third method for developing growth mindset is by teaching kids that their brains are malleable.
How do you encourage a growth mindset in your school or classroom?
For more information about Growth Mindsets in your school or classroom, please do not hesitate to reach out to Tessa Levitt or Lauren Stuff.
By: Tessa Levitt, Jen Pangbord, and Lauren Stuff, CA BOCES
The term "grit" has been floating around in the educational realm quite a bit lately. Not only do the article and the TED talk linked below shed some light on its applicability to our work, it's actually also something that can carry over into every aspect of our lives. You'll find that the TED talk is quick and engaging, while the article is certainly more weighty.
What is Grit? Watch this: http://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_the_key_to_success_grit
Here's an article too: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/18/magazine/what-if-the-secret-to-success-is-failure.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Now you can assess your own Grit: