Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Growth Mindset Experiment

Hi, blogosphere! I thought I'd check in quickly. This school year, I really wanted to make the focus to be on helping kids to transition to my class. One of the things I wanted to teach them about is growth mindset, and at the same time to be crystal-clear about why we do the things that we do. For example, why do a pre-test? Why do we have practice tests when not everyone is ready? Why play around and intuit things before we discuss them formally?

I did a brain talk on Day 1, which had elements of the growth and fixed mindset as part of the talk, including asking the kids to practice re-framing certain negative sentiments as growth mindset statements. For homework, I asked the kids to write about an example of growth mindset in their lives, outside of math. I learned so much about their lives through this first assignment! I learned about their interests and also how they respond to setbacks. Subsequently, I have shared my own story of a growth mindset with them, and continue to think daily in terms of what I need to do or say in my class in order to generate and sustain more growth mindset. Now every time a kid asks to meet with me, I thank them for having a great growth mindset. When a kid fails an assignment, I ask them to keep working on it to revise their understanding, and I write, "Growth mindset!!" on their paper. In our Geometry class, on the day when we had individual algebra tasks, I asked the kids to write on a post-it one thing that they had learned during that class. (Some kids said, "I didn't learn anything new! I had to review..." and it was a great opportunity for us to chat about how learning new things sometimes requires re-learning old stuff first.) I am thinking about doing a growth mindset check-in, where each kid is asked to write down one thing that they recently learned or improved on and one thing that they are still working on or challenged by. This would hopefully remind them that learning is a spectrum, in order to reinforce their confidence in the process.

Anyway, all this thinking about growth mindser is directly feeding into the classroom culture, I think!! Thus far, I am loving my classes and find the kids to be actively engaged everyday.

Next time, I will talk about actual changes I have made to my classes...Some good ones, I think!


  1. This sounds like an awesome way to change class culture! We started this year with having all students read and discuss part of Make It Stick and it was great to have that as a common reference point. This is a good reminder that I need to revisit this and think about how to keep it in students' conscious thoughts re learning and their struggles.

  2. Initial Growth Mindset lessons also revolutionized my classroom culture. The two days I spent on it are well worth it two months into the school year.