Plan for Parents

Another stop along the path to a growth mindset school culture is to develop a plan for sharing information about the malleability of the mind with parents. It is important to get parents educated so that the children can hear a consistent message at home and school.

Parents often struggle with the nature/nurture debate and can contribute a child's success or lack of success to genetics. Adult role models should never blame genetics for perceived capabilities or low expectations.

Building Resilience

Children will eventually try to avoid anything where they are not sure that they will be successful rather then view the situation as challenge to arise to.  Here are some suggestions for building resilience in children

  •  Use growth mindset praise
  •  Model flexibility
  • Adopt a " glass half full" mentality in the home
  • Help children find their niche

How can Parents Communicate to a Growth Mindset Message To Teachers?

  1.  Always start with the positive- Tell the teacher something that your child loves about the class.
  2. Share what brings out the best at home-Include a relationship between resilience, motivation, effort, or other aspects you want addressed. Show how this changes the child's performance.
  3. Share what does not work-
  4. Establish the partnership- Make the teacher part of the plan of action that incorporates your beliefs, as well as his oh her practices.

Chapter 6 illustrates the importance of all three groups-students, teachers, and parents-to work together when building a growth mindset culture.  The most important of these is the adopting and of and maintaining of a growth mindset in children.

As you look to plan for next year, what are some ways than you can provide information to parents about having a growth mindset at home?  How can you  continue to build your mindset skills as a teacher in the classroom?

Chapter 7, will discuss if gifted education and a growth mindset belief can coexist?

 

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 How Can Students Learn From Failure?

Responding to Failure

The way we respond to failures and mistakes depends on our our mindset. When students consciously take the opportunity to learn from all of their errors, they will approach the unsuccessful task in a new way or with more effort.  If students learn more about their brains and how it works, failure is an easier pill to swallow.  Students who internalize the understanding of the plasticity of the brain and the functional changes in the brain that occur when we learn can deal more constructively with setbacks.

Some students have a "Bring it on!" approach and embrace challenges with enthusiasm .  These students realize that they may not be successful and might even fail at a task or two, but want to take the risk and stretch themselves.  It is imperative that teachers develop a climate in their classroom where failure is celebrated and students learn to reflect and redirect so that they can approach a challenging task in a new way with more effort

Motivation

Social scientist Bernard Weiner (1974, 1980) is best known for his work with the attribution theory. Weiner's theory focuses on motivation and achievement and he considers the most important factors affecting achievement to ability, effort, task difficulty, and luck.

attribution theory
a theory that suggests that successful people will often attribute their success to effort (an internal factor) while those who are unsuccessful tend to attribute their lack of success or failure to the difficult of the task and/or to just having bad luck (external factors)

Our goal is to encourage students to internalize the belief that their own actions and behaviors, not external factors, guide them to achievement or failure.  In Daniel Pink's 2009 book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he presents the case for intrinsic rather than extrinsic rewards.

How are you motivated?  Is your classroom motivating for all students?  Do you have a balance of both types of rewards?

intrinsic rewards extrinsic rewards
the personal satisfaction of a person feels when something is accomplished outside incentives provided to a person by another individual or source, such as money, certificates, or prize


Video about Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

 Changing How Students React to Failure

Every time teachers help students with an error, they should seize this opportunity to help students interpret the errors as "data" that will help them later, rather then looking at themselves through a lens of low ability.  One way teachers can help students reflect on failure is to introduce them to a more positive outlook on failure, perhaps by sharing others' attitudes toward failure.

Michael Jordan, summed up failure in a 1997 Nike Commercial:

"I've missed more then 9,000 shots in my career. Iv'e lost almost 300 games.  Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot...and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed."

 

The next chapter in Mindsets in the Classroom, 2013 will review ideas to help schools share information with parents to help create both a mindset environment at home and school.

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Why is critical thinking important in a growth mindset class culture?

Daniel Willingham (2008), professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Virginia, shared the three types of critical thinking: reasoning, making judgments/decisions, and problem solving.  Everyday we reason, problem solve, and make decisions, but they do not always require critical thought.

Critical thinking is a process that must be infused with the content; it is not something that you can just check off a list once it is mastered. We want to start thinking about critical thinking as a process of strategies that can be applied to a myriad of situations rather then a set of skills. Providing students with opportunities to develop their cognitive abilities through critical experiences impacts the child's view and contributes to a growth mindset.

Chapter 4 describes a project that was conducted to improve critical thinking experiences in schools with high poverty and low achievement.

The project involved six Title 1 schools, a total of 53 classrooms in 2nd and 3rd grade and their teachers.  Professional development highlighted places where critical thinking processes were already embedded in their curriculum (Common Core State Standards). Professional development for the first year of the project focused on ways that teachers could build students' reasoning abilities.   The teachers learned instructional strategies that included deductive, analogical and quantitative reasoning, as well as concept attainment and concept formation strategies.

As part of  the project,  they introduced engaging nonverbal reasoning games into the classroom.  The games increased the level of challenge as the children made their way up through each level. The addition of the games demonstrated to both teachers and students that critical thinking is possible at all ability levels.

5 Strategies for Critical Thinking

 

Critical thinking and a growth mindset culture go hand in hand. We can expect students to embrace challenge only if we make it available to them on a consistent basis.

Chapter 5 will discuss how students can learn from failure.

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