Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Teaching Growth vs Fixed Mindsets

Showed these videos to my Year 11's today -

Nearly every student had a set idea on what their own mindsets were. What was becoming increasingly clear was the amount of students who had a fixed mindset - compared with those who have a growth mindset - also had some negative thoughts about themselves and their own learning - or ability/inability to learn.

What I found was that most students correlated their growth/fixed mindsets to how they saw themselves achieving in particular subjects. Students said that in specific classes they had a growth mindset because they enjoyed the subject. While others knew inherently the reason they had a fixed mindset was because they did not think they were 'good' at that subject for reason x.

What was slightly disturbing was that there were three students who I couldn't help in changing their thinking from a fixed to a growth mindset... because they were so stuck in their fixed mindset of feeling that they were incapable of achieving. Two of those students believed they would never be good at English for reason x.

One student said that her fixed mindset was in Maths. Like mine is. I talked with her about how I've since begun to develop my mindset into a growth one instead. I told her and a few others around her that the way to begin to change that mindset is by likening the subject to one that she did have a growth mindset in... for example history. Since she is in my house tutor group class I tend to spend more time helping her to change her views because I want her to be more open minded and confident about her ability at school (like I do with all my students - but her and another especially because they're in my HTG class).

I'm finding that with this class they're slowly becoming growth mindset because they're willingly risking new topics - SOLO, growth mindsets, essay writing - and more importantly the ones who originally had a fixed mindset are showing growth mindset characteristics - not giving up, being persistent, asking for help, wanting to learn and unlearn and relearn again.

What's cooler is that they're able to see that change in themselves when I give them that tiny bit of praise on the effort they have put into the subject recently.

I suppose this is part of the reason I haven't yet given them back their marks. When students get marks - it is a clear praising system - for intelligence, rather than effort. The effort may never be enough for some students who write 10 drafts - and only still achieve - rather than with Merit or Excellence. It's this level which is hard to navigate. I don't want to discourage them - and for some seeing an Achieved (although it's positive) is sometimes just not good enough...because of the effort they've put in (or the percieved effort) and as a result can end up with some very cranky and upset students.

When asked yesterday why we haven't got english credits up yet... I explained that the pieces haven't properly been talked about yet through a moderation meeting so I couldn't possible give out any grades, let alone put them up on KAMAR. When hearing that other students have already gotten their marks up - I said that I would personally rather spend more time on making sure that they got the grade they were working towards - through further editing and resubmissions - rather than have them merely accept the grade that has been given to them without trying harder to get a better grade.

It's hard to have a growth mindset when you're constantly told you're not 'good enough'. But as I showed my old Maths teacher.. I can do something with my life even though I'm probably not ever going to be the future Field's Medal for maths... I went to university. First member of my family too I might add. And what's more - I try not to put my students down. I awhi and tautoko them every step I can. And when I can't help them any further - I scaffold and make acronyms so that it's easier for my students when they have strategies to overcome their own weaknesses or issues with memory. And when my students ask for help - I don't deficit theorize thinking that they'll never be able to do it because of reason x. Jeez woman.

I'm proud of my students. I'm proud of myself! This 'Yes Year' is really paying off :)

This is some of their thinking...
 Student Response:
For every one negative comment it takes six - seven positive comments to get that person back to the same self-esteem before the negative comment.