Growth Mindset Workshop – Carol Dweck and Susan Mackie

The workshop was to explore your own mindset triggers and learn how to respond to the everyday challenges and demands to help us become the people we want to be. Prior to the workshop we were asked to complete some pre-readings/pre-viewings:

I want to be… someone who inspires others to aim for the sky and strive to be the best that they can be.

Success in life is about learning, constantly learning, finding hard things sticking to them. It’s also about finding the joy in learning. I was struck by how often the word ‘joy’ came up across the day. That is a powerful word that should be turning up more in my classroom. BUT many things that we do are turning people into non learners – we put emphasis on talent, on who is gifted and who is not. We create children that have to be infallible. This is the enemy of learning. If children think they can be infallible, they limit themselves so that they can be perfect.

How do we bring back the zest for learning?

Brain Plasticity – neuroscience shows us the tremendous plasticity of our brains – they can transform through learning. There is a lot of evidence that mindsets work and mindsets matter.

There was a section that was focused on the idea of an organisation and how there are fixed and growth cultures. A fixed setting is likely to believe in – and judge – fixed abilities. It will have a competitive culture where staff will try to be between that one another and therefore little or no collaboration. Meanwhile a growth focused organisation will support creativity, innovation and foster teamwork. Teachers being excited to go to work. Brainstorm together, feeling free to innovate, trying things, to go to others with problems and not be judged.

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  • Deep fear of failure in Y11. The need to experience some success before the mindset can grow
  • Brain Training vs growth mindset – the picture of neurons in your brain making connections.
  • Brainology essential to study skills – study skills in isolation is not ok.
  • Grades in Math (Blackwell, Trzesniewski, Dweck, 2007) said one student: “You mean I don’t have to be dumb”

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  • False Mindset  – of course one will always say that they have a growth mindset
  • It’s a normal thing to make a mistake, it’s a wonderful thing to learn from a mistake.
  • We must have a deep belief that everyone can raise their abilities
  • Tie the process they engaged in and connect it to their learning
  • How to raise kids with grit
  • Effort is one route to learning and improvement
  • Someone that says: “I have a growth mindset in all areas” – is a clear sign that they have a fixed mindset

Fixed mindset triggers

The following for triggers are common for switching our approaches back into a fixed mold. The slides suggest the different ways of  dealing with each of these triggers. The triggers can trap you in the fixed mindset – be aware of them and those behaviours.

1. Stepping out of our comfort zones.

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2. High effort

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3. Setbacks

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4. Feedback

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Changing your mindset

“I’ve told you a 100 times”

“Yeah, and how’s that working for you”

  • The power of “yet” or “not yet”
  • Legitimize the fixed mindset and acknowledge that we’re all a mixture

Name and claim your fixed mindset persona. Get to know it:

  • When does it show up?
  • How does it make you feel?
  • How does it affect your behaviour? Your relationships? Your goals?
  • Over time, learn to work with it

Fixed mindset persona: Joking Jerome – a persona I use to protect myself sometimes. Occasionally I rely on humour to navigate tough situations. This occurs a lot outside of school mainly, but my joking and sarcastic nature can be used as a defense at times and might prevent deep reflection and growth from a given opportunity. (True words said in jest?)

How to raise kids with grit

  • Mindfulness and mindset are related
  • The need to explore your own mental models, what you think about your learning and others learning: you show it.
  • Have an assembly about failure.
  • “Finland doesn’t teach to the test, they teach joyful effective learning
  • Nothing can tell you how smart you are and how smart you will be when you grow up. A test/assessment measures what you know now, and it will show you what you need to work on going forward.
  • The interplay between adult and child’s mindset – teachers and adults matter.

Fixed mindset triggers

  • A student struggling or confused
  • A student not listening to your lesson
  • A student with high or low test scores

There is compassion when you understand that all students have some degree of pain or fear behind their behaviour. These behaviours can all be addressed with a growth mindset. This involves working with the student and supporting them – and not putting them in a fixed mindset box. The growth mindset is part of the meta-curriculum.

  • The fishbowl – activity of coaching through some teachers when faced with this kind of conversation.
  • The conversation around assessments could be examined. How do we manage students fears and emotions through assessment?

Advice for a students in a fixed mindset?

  • See it as a challenge
  • What do you need to …?
  • Restorative questions – what’s happening/happened?
  • Look for the positive strategies and adapt them for a different context.
  • Peer to peer conection
  • Saying more effort is needed can alienate a student. They need to connect the effort with better outcomes/understanding.
  • Look up your heroes – they always find without fail that their heroes had to try really hard and had to overcome challenges.
  • Use the personas that make you afraid of risk. Something that is common and accessible.

Transmitting mindsets in the classroom

  • What can teachers do?
  • Studies showing that adults are not passing on growth mindsets
  • Rushing in and not letting the students fail
  • When students succeed – praise the process. Tie it to learning, progress.
  • When children struggle or fail – focus on the process. Talk about fabulous struggles.
  • Ask: What are you struggling with now? 
  • Give out failure of the year award
  • Make errors. Modelling the error correction process.

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Growth mindset necessary for students to find their way back to the world that needs them so much.

Slides from the presentation

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