Thursday, August 15, 2013

What is Your Mindset?

Carol S. DweckMindset: The New Psychology of Success--How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential

Of all the books I have read in the past five years, this is the one book I keep returning to. It has changed my thinking in many aspects of parenting, teaching, and now as a principal. The exciting news is this important way of approaching learning is now often integrated into many aspects of teacher professional development. Today I had the opportunity to drop in on a Math Studio session and teachers were learning how to apply this thinking with students while teaching math. The Instructional routines, The Habits of Mind and Habits of Interaction are embedded with opportunities of developing the "mindset" of how effort matters.

What is the mindset? Dweck explains, "If you have the fixed mindset, you believe that your talents and abilities are set in stone–either you have them or you don’t. You must prove yourself over and over, trying to look smart and talented at all costs. This is the path of stagnation. If you have a growth mindset, however, you know that talents can be developed and that great abilities are built over time. This is the path of opportunity–and success."

A few years after the book was published Dweck applied more thoughts with reference to education. "Teachers who strive to design challenging, meaningful learning tasks may find that their students respond differently depending on the student's assumption about intelligence. Students with a growth mindset may tackle such work with excitement, whereas students with a fixed mindset may feel threatened by learning tasks that require them to stretch and take risk."  

So what can we do as parents and teachers to support our children's growth towards their success? Dweck summarized it in the article, Even Geniuses Work Hard as follows:
  •  Don't praise ability, praise effort.
  •  Fast learning is not always the deepest and best learning.
  • Teach the growth mindset, it's o.k. to struggle.
  • Have each child set growth goals to increase a skill or learning strategies.
  • Make every child stretch--don't let kids coast or be known as "smart".
  • Have students monitor and chart their progress towards their goals.
  •  Support students to develop an understanding their effort towards their goals makes a difference
  •  Your feedback should be specific towards their effort--no more "Good job!" or "You’re smart!"
  • Grade for growth and effort.
There was a saying the 1960's that went: Becoming is better than being. Dweck helps us remember; "The fixed mindset does not allow people the luxury of becoming. They have to already be." 

Kimberly Miles, Lead Learner

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