Monday, February 20, 2017

The Story of Two Minds


Guest Blogger: Dr. Kim Ehrhardt, Director of
Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment

Currently the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment (CIA) Team is conducting visits to each school in the district to conduct an on-site review of the implementation of School Improvement Plans. A topic that is getting a lot of attention is growth mindset.  So I thought I would blog about what we are learning.  

We know that too many of our students don't believe they can learn or grow.  During our school visits to date, we are finding many teachers in our district that actively embrace the challenge to help our students change this belief by teaching students in a way that helps them grow their minds. 

Central to the topic is the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. As Carol Dweck explains, a fixed mindset assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static and cannot be changed. A growth mindset, on the other hand, adopts the perspective that our intelligence, creativity, and character can change and grow over time. 


These two views have a tremendous impact on teaching and learning. If a teacher believes in a fixed mindset, then he or she is saying there is no potential for growth.  If a child is intelligent, they will continue to be so. If a child is struggling, it's because he or she just isn't "smart enough". On the other hand, if you believe in a growth mindset, you believe that students may start with a certain amount of ability, but that can change over time with effort and persistence. This powerful disposition by many of our teachers is showing up over and over again in a number of our schools. 

For students, which of these mindsets they believe also matters. Students with a fixed mindset typically avoid challenges, feel threatened by others' successes, and give up easily. They want to look smart, and believe that working hard at a task means they are not smart. Students with a growth mindset believe they can learn and become better. They embrace challenge, view effort as a positive part of learning, and persist through difficulties. How can we develop a growth mindset in our students? Here are six strategies that are commonly recommended in the literature: 

Six Strategies to Develop a Growth Mindset in Your Classroom

  • Build a learning-oriented mindset.
  • Focus on process as well as product.
  • Emphasize mastery and learning.
  • Reinforce effort.
  • Decrease learned helplessness.
  • Provide multiple opportunities for success.


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