Friday, October 30, 2015

Developing a Growth Mindset

Growth mindset is a hot topic within education. What is it you ask, and how is it different from a fixed mindset? The idea of a growth mindset was developed by psychologist and leading researcher, Carol Dweck. Mindset is a universal idea that pertains to education, parenting, the business world, and more.

A mindset is the way you perceive yourself. Dweck states, “In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success--without effort.” In contrast, Dweck explains, “In a growth mindset people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work--brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” The chart below shows the characteristics of a fixed mindset vs. a growth mindset.

Prior to being honored with the role as “Gifted Specialist” at Goodrich School, I worked as a classroom teacher where I experienced working with all types of learners. Through my experience I have noticed a common theme within all learners. They are afraid to make mistakes because they are afraid of failure. Comments I hear amongst students are: “I’m not good at this. I can’t do this. This is too hard.”  Many students tend to feel a sense of responsibility that they must know everything.  That is why I implement, demonstrate, and help students develop a growth mindset in my classroom.  The chart below shows how to encourage students to think using a growth mindset.
Last week, I introduced my students to the 16 Habits of Mind. Arthur L. Costa and Ben Kallick explain, “The Habits of Mind are an identified set of 16 problem solving, life related skills, necessary to effectively operate in society and promote strategic reasoning, insightfulness, perseverance, creativity, and craftsmanship.”

My goal was to introduce, teach and model these habits to help students develop a growth mindset. We began the lesson by discussing the definition of a habit. We shared how everyone has habits-good and bad. To help the students gain a deeper understanding of each habit of mind, they participated in a couple of activities. First, their job was to research the Habits of Mind. From their research, they were to create an icon and motto, and find a quote to represent the first eight habits.

Then, the students reflected on what they learned by relating the habits to themselves. They used a growth mindset to identify the habits they are already good at, as well as the ones they think they need to improve on. The reflection turned into their social/emotional goals for the school year. It is important that all children understand that there is always room to improve, and that learning never stops. We need to strive to help our learners understand that it is okay to fail, and we learn from mistakes. Students must persevere when frustrated, and challenge themselves to ask questions and pose problems to expand on their learning.



Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind: 16 Essential Characteristics for Success by Arthur L. Costa & Bena Kallick

Mindset: The New Psychology for Success by Carol Dweck

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