In the Los Altos School District, we have designed a set of learning principles that we believe form a foundation for all of the work that we do. There are seven learning principles.
Through our iLearn program, we are developing and offering our teachers an after school professional development series focused on each one. We started with growth mindset as we believe that forms the foundation for everything that happens next.
Carol Dweck, a leading Stanford psychologist, argues that a critical quality that separates successful people from those that are less successful is whether they think their intelligence can be developed or whether they believe it is fixed. "Being mastery-oriented is about having the right mindset. It is not about how smart you are. However, having the mastery-oriented mind-set will help students become more able over time."
Part of developing a growth mindset involves the practice of embracing challenges, persisting in the face of setbacks, and seeing effort as a path to mastery. Mindset is everything. Some tools to practice with yourself and your students:
Small Wins - Ask a small question to make big changes. Caroline Arnold, author of Small Move, Big Change, calls this "working within the margins." She says, "There's really no such thing as a small behavioral change in terms of impact. By working the margins, you gradually get to where you want to be." Celebrate the small wins which repeated over time can lead to a growth mind-set.
Praise Effort - Get gritty and focus on the effort and strategies rather than the intelligence. Pay attention to the words you choose when commenting on students work or your own. (Process & Outcome)
Focus on the Value of Learning - While grades are important, the value of learning should be prioritized. Take time to notice and comment on the learning that is happening outside of the expected outcomes. (Process & Outcome)
Collaborate - Working with others helps build motivation and a sense of responsibility. The positive feedback loop of effort and success can also encourage a growth mind-set.
Having a growth mindset doesn’t always come easily and needs to be practiced. As we move forward and explore other learning principles, it will be important to embrace a growth mindset and remember that we are all in this together.
Contributed by Kami Thordarson, Innovative Strategies Coach