I have always thought that you could easily create a board for PD (professional development) bingo. Whether it’s a curriculum planning day, a guest speaker, a staff or faculty meeting or other, some words/phrases come up again and again.

’21st Century Learning’

‘Inquiry Learning’

‘Differentiation’

‘Critical Thinking Skills’

‘Student-centred’

‘Data-driven’

And, of course, ‘growth mindset’.

Whilst teachers might do a lot of talking on these topics, this doesn’t necessarily mean that students know these concepts. This year I asked each of my classes if they knew what growth mindset was and was met in each class by a sea of blank faces. It seemed, to me, that I had spent a lot of time talking about growth mindsetĀ (read, potentially complaining about the apparent lack of it), but I wasn’t having that conversation with my students (arguably the most important people to discuss it with).

Nevertheless, this year I showed each class the short video below of an interview with Dr Carol Dweck, the researcher who coined the terms ‘growth’ and ‘fixed’ mindsets. We then used this as the basis of a discussion in our class and came to the following conclusions:

  • People who have a growth mindset don’t avoid challenges and they actively reflect on and try to learn from their mistakes
  • If we’re struggling with something, it means that we’re more likely to be at the point where we’re learning something new. So as I put it on the board ‘struggle=learning’ and ’embrace struggle’

I also found this a great opportunity to highlight a couple of other points about growth vs. fixed mindset:

  • We are not carte-blanche growth or fixed in how we approach everything. Actually, we’re more likely to differ depending on what the ‘thing’ we’re trying to do is. For instance, I have a very fixed mindset about parallel parking and have done so for a while. I know I should probably do something about it (like learn how to properly parallel park), but at least I’m aware of it. Likewise, I have a growth mindset about other things, like my teaching practice.
  • I told my students that I wanted them to try to be aware and deliberate about setting a growth mindset for our class and to expect and be happy with struggle in our class this year.

Overall, I was happy with how we started off. Let me know if there’s a different way that you like to chat to your students about growth mindset!

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