Leading Growth Mindsets; Setting Up For Success

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1 | Professional Learning Series | jamesanderson.com.au LEADING GROWTH MINDSETS: SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS GROWTH MINDSETS LEADING PROFESSIONAL LEARNING SERIES SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS JAMES ANDERSON 2 | Professional Learning Series | jamesanderson.com.au LEADING GROWTH MINDSETS: SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS © James Anderson 2019. All Rights Reserved. This document is provided as part of professional learning services conducted by James Anderson. Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content of this publication other than within your school or organisation. You are granted a limited licence to use this book in its complete form to: print copies for the use of employees within your school or organisation only; email it to staff employed by your school or organisation only; to place it on a secure intranet or filing system that is not publicly accessible outside your school or organisation; and to use it in staff training and development sessions within your school or organisation providing a fee is not charged for these services. You must not print, email, share or distribute the book on any channels outside your school or organisation, for personal or professional purposes. For permissions to use any part of this document beyond the agreement above, contact James Anderson at [email protected] Now in plain English. This resource is provided to your school, to support professional learning delivered by James Anderson. Don’t share it beyond your school. Making this resource available beyond your school, using it in other publications, or in any sort of training or conference is a big no no. With the above in mind, if you know someone that might benefit from a copy of all or part of this resource, please ask them to contact [email protected] In most instances, I’m more than happy to share, or give permissions where appropriate. 3 | Professional Learning Series | jamesanderson.com.au LEADING GROWTH MINDSETS: SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS ABOUT JAMES ANDERSON James Anderson is an Australian- based international speaker, author and educator who is passionate about helping fellow educators develop students as better learners. Originally a teacher and school leader, for the past 20 years, James has been working with schools to make classrooms more thoughtful places. He challenges teachers to think deeply about their own Mindsets and how their beliefs are communicated to students in often subtle and unintended ways. James’s work combines Growth Mindset with Habits of Mind and Practice to create Learning Agility. He puts the growth back into Growth Mindset! And, through creating and describing the Mindset Continuum, he provides the cornerstone for effective Growth Mindset interventions. James values the relationships he builds with the schools and teachers he works with, providing the “follow-through” that’s so often lacking in teacher professional development. His speaking, workshops and online resources provide not only the deep understandings required to do this work meaningfully, but also the tools and ongoing support needed to sustain it in your school and make a real difference to student learning outcomes. James will show you how to create your school-based Growth Mindset Style Guide to ensure your school consistently “nudges” all students towards an increasingly growth-oriented Mindset. James is a Certified Speaking Professional and regularly speaks at conferences around the world. His previous publications include Succeeding with Habits of Mind, The Agile Learner and The Learning Landscape, as well as a host of e-books and other teacher resources. His online course, 4 | Professional Learning Series | jamesanderson.com.au LEADING GROWTH MINDSETS: SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS jamesanderson.com.au facebook.com/habitsofmind [email protected] twitter.com/MindfulByDesign linkedin.com/in/james-anderson-18863531/ “Transforming Teaching and Learning with Growth Mindsets,” supports thousands of educators in schools around the world. He is an international affiliate of Art Costa and Bena Kallick’s Institute for Habits of Mind and the creator of www.habitsofmind.org. James can be contacted for speaking and consultancy work at www.jamesanderson.com.au. 5 | Professional Learning Series | jamesanderson.com.au LEADING GROWTH MINDSETS: SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS INDEX INTRODUCTION SCHLIMMBESSERUNG MINDSETS MATTER – BUT THAT’S ONLY HALF THE STORY SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON GROWTH MINDSET HOW GROWTH MINDSETS BECOME “LAST YEAR’S INITIATIVE” – A CAUTIONARY TALE WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING FIXED VS GROWTH? MAKING MINDSETS MEANINGFUL 7 11 15 21 29 35 41 6 | Professional Learning Series | jamesanderson.com.au LEADING GROWTH MINDSETS: SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS The Agile Learner combines three powerful ideas: Growth Mindset, Habits of Mind and Virtuous Practice. It shows teachers not only how to create the Growth Mindset, but how to translate that Mindset into actual growth in their students’ abilities. In The Agile Learner you will: • Go beyond social media hype to a deep understanding of Mindsets. • Stop treating the symptoms of a Fixed Mindset and learn how to address the underlying causes. • Explore the Mindset Continuum and its importance to making practical changes to students’ Mindsets. • Create powerful Mindset Movers that will shift students’ Mindsets. • Discover the Four Rules About Talent and how to apply them. • Develop Learning Power with Habits of Mind. • Learn how to encourage Virtuous Practice. • Help students grow by showing them how to engage in Effective Effort. • Much more … Order your copy of James Anderson’s book THE AGILE LEARNER today! ORDER YOUR COPY NOW www.jamesanderson.com.au/p/TheAgileLearner/ “Anderson weaves together a rich tapestry of possibilities for increasing the power and potential for all of our students. He does away with the myths that limit growth, and so opens the door for unlimited learning.” – Art Costa and Bena Kallick, co-authors Habits of Mind 7 | Professional Learning Series | jamesanderson.com.au LEADING GROWTH MINDSETS: SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS This collection of articles is intended for your school’s Growth Mindset leadership team. I outline key research you need to be familiar with, as well as many of the pitfalls you’ll want to avoid, as you adopt Growth Mindsets as part of your whole-school initiative. Importantly, I outline how to prevent Growth Mindsets becoming “last year’s initiative” at your school. I invite you to share these articles as professional reading for your school’s Growth Mindset leaders. All the articles were originally published as blog posts. For regular updates, you can subscribe to my blog at www. jamesanderson.com.au. If you’re going to start working with Growth Mindsets in your school, let’s start by not making things worse! In the first article, I introduce the idea of “Schlimmbesserung”. This is a German word that means to make things worse in an effort to make them better. In English, we refer to this idea as a “backfire” or “the cobra effect”. Unfortunately, there are many examples of schools that have enthusiastically jumped on the idea of Growth Mindsets, but with little understanding and no real planning. These schools often adopt social media solutions to Growth Mindsets that oversimplify psychologist Carol Dweck’s ideas. The result is often the exact opposite of what they intended: they create more fixed- oriented Mindsets in their students instead of growth-oriented ones! This article highlights some of the traps for unwary schools and invites you to go beyond the catchphrases and social media hype to develop a deeper understanding of Growth Mindsets. (By the way, if you’re interested in the idea of Schlimmbesserung, you can read about 10 of history’s greatest backfires here,1 including how the cobra effect got its name and why 10 boxes of TNT is too much if you want to blow up a whale carcass!) In the second article, “Mindsets Matter – But That’s Only Half the Story,” I introduce data that explains why we should take a serious look at Growth Mindsets in the classroom. Importantly, I clarify that although the data shows Growth Mindsets are important, they are only useful if our Growth Mindset interventions are effective! I also introduce the concepts of Motivation Calibration and Learning Agility, central ideas that should be introduced alongside your work with Growth Mindsets. INTRODUCTION 8 | Professional Learning Series | jamesanderson.com.au LEADING GROWTH MINDSETS: SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS The third article, “Setting the Record Straight on Growth Mindset,” is a longer, more thoughtful article. It looks closely at some of the Growth Mindset criticisms that have been published. This is an excellent article for leaders who are rightly sceptical about how schools are implementing Growth Mindsets, and for those who have suspicions about the “Power of Yet”. This article also sets the direction for more purposeful and effective Growth Mindset interventions. The fourth article, “How Growth Mindsets Become ‘Last Year’s Initiative’ – A Cautionary Tale,” is a warning for schools that don’t heed the lessons above. I wrote this article as I began to observe schools enthusiastically adopting social media solutions to Growth Mindsets and seeing little enduring impact. Schools don’t have the time or resources to waste on initiatives that are swept away every time something new comes along. It’s crucial you heed the lessons of this article. The fifth article focuses on perhaps the biggest misunderstanding about Mindsets: the idea that there are just two. In “Why Are We Still Talking Fixed vs Growth Mindsets,” I introduce you to the Mindset Continuum. Recognising that in the real world our Mindsets lie somewhere along a continuum opens the door to meaningful dialogue and realistic school-based interventions. The final article is about “Making Mindsets Meaningful” in your school. It advocates for a more measured and meaningful whole-school approach to Growth Mindsets. It’s an approach that doesn’t involve catchphrases or slogans. It requires leadership rather than posters. The approach I advocate involves developing a Growth Mindset Style Guide for your school and supporting teachers in developing their own more growth-oriented Mindsets. FURTHER READING Motivation Calibration: “How hard can it be?” https://mindfulbydesign.com/how-hard-can-it-be/ “Growth Mindset and Positive Education” https://mindfulbydesign.com/growth-mindset-positive-education/ 9 | Professional Learning Series | jamesanderson.com.au LEADING GROWTH MINDSETS: SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS HOW TO USE THESE ARTICLES These resources are intended as professional reading for teachers and school leaders with the responsibility of leading Growth Mindset initiatives in their schools. As such, I invite you to share copies amongst your leadership team, then discuss the key ideas as you plan your whole-school Growth Mindset strategy. One of the most critical steps to successful implementation is to break free of the Fixed versus Growth Mindset dichotomy and start talking about the Mindset Continuum. You might like to print a copy of the Mindset Continuum for each member of your leadership team. As you discuss where you find yourselves on the continuum, reflect on the nature and tone of your conversations. How much easier is it to recognise the need for growth rather than talk about having a Fixed or Growth Mindset? Does the continuum invite conversations about your Mindset and the Mindset of students and colleagues? Would these conversations be less likely to happen if you were talking about Fixed versus Growth Mindsets? Reflect on the key messages in these articles and discuss the actions you might take to ensure your “early adopters” are on the right track as they begin their work with Growth Mindsets. As you plan your Growth Mindset whole-school strategy, it’s imperative you stay focused on the growth part of Growth Mindsets. This means recognising the importance of Learning Agility – not only so students understand they are capable of growth, but also to ensure they are capable of achieving it. Consider purchasing copies of The Agile Learner or The Learning Landscape for each member of your leadership team to use for your next shared professional reading. “The number-one thing you can do to change student Mindsets is to change teachers’ Mindsets.” If you haven’t already done so, access your free trial of “Transforming Teaching and Learning with Growth Mindsets”. This resource is designed to support school leaders in challenging and changing teachers’ Mindsets. As a leadership team, discuss how getting staff to engage with this resource might help challenge their Mindsets. The development of a school-wide Growth Mindset Style Guide is key to your successful implementation. A style guide helps “nudge” well-intentioned teachers to create positive Mindset Movers in their day-to-day practice. As school leaders, where might you start to create policy, culture and practices to generate these nudges? 10 | Professional Learning Series | jamesanderson.com.au LEADING GROWTH MINDSETS: SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS If you’d like to learn more about Growth Mindsets, Learning Agility and how I can support you in your work with teacher workshops, whole-school professional development or ongoing support and mentoring, please contact me at [email protected], book a time in my calendar or call me on +61 423 778 008. References 1. Elhassan, K., 10 Catastrophic Solutions That Backfired Spectacularly and Made the Problem Worse, historycollection.co, accessed 17th July 2019, <https://historycollection.co/10-catastrophic-solutions-backfired-spectacularly-made-problem- worse/> 11 | Professional Learning Series | jamesanderson.com.au LEADING GROWTH MINDSETS: SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS No, that’s not a typo. Schlimmbesserung is a German word that means “to make things worse through an effort to improve”. What if our efforts to improve students’ Mindsets were schlimmbesserung? What if they were backfiring and creating Fixed Mindsets instead of Growth Mindsets? SCHLIMMBESSERUNG This is exactly what teachers risk doing when they jump on the Growth Mindset bandwagon without a deep understanding of their own Mindsets. They adopt Growth Mindset strategies, but often superficially, and this can have unintended consequences. For example, many teachers have adopted “praise effort” as a Growth Mindset strategy. Unfortunately, in some cases, “praise effort” has unintentionally become “praise struggling students for effort”. Instead of the intended growth message about effort, this sends the highly fixed message that effort is only required for some students. A similar schlimmbesserung came from a principal I met a few years ago. He told me that during his whole career, he had been telling students “hard work will beat talent, when talent doesn’t work very hard”. He thought he was sending a Growth Mindset message to students about the importance of hard work and effort. In fact, the opposite was true. Implicit in his statement was that hard work was necessary to make up for a lack of talent – and, by implication, his students weren’t talented. To make things worse, it suggested to these students they needed to hope that the talented people didn’t start working hard! 12 | Professional Learning Series | jamesanderson.com.au LEADING GROWTH MINDSETS: SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS In a similar way, I worry about the number of teachers adopting “not yet” as a mantra in the classroom. Many of these teachers have let “not yet” become “still not yet”. They have failed to adopt the pedagogies that teach students how to achieve growth. The promised “not yet” that is never achieved, turns into a negative Mindset Mover when students fail to grow, leading to a form of learned failure. The result of these misapplied strategies is schlimmbesserung. Our attempts to develop Growth Mindsets backfire and create Fixed Mindsets in students. Why does this happen? Because our Mindset is part of our unconscious bias. It guides our actions when we are not paying attention. And, although we might want a Growth Mindset and perhaps even believe we have one, unless we’ve spent the time carefully nurturing a Growth Mindset in ourselves, our actions, over time, will reflect our true Mindset. As Professor Carol Dweck puts it, “A Growth Mindset is not a declaration. It’s a journey.” It’s something we must continually reflect on and work at. So, although our intention is to praise all students for effort, we may end up only praising the struggling students. Things as subtle as our tone of voice when praising one student compared to another can communicate volumes about our beliefs about their abilities. Perhaps we may unconsciously direct all the most challenging questions to a few students who we perceive as more able. In our reports, we may even describe one student as “a capable student” and another as “a very capable student” – revealing our unconscious belief that the second student is inherently smarter than the first. Each of the above subtly but consistently communicates and reinforces to students our underlying beliefs about their fixed abilities and intelligence. Our efforts to create a Growth Mindset have exactly the opposite effect. A schlimmbesserung. This is what Dweck and her colleague Susan Mackie have identified as a False Mindset. Someone with a False Mindset intellectually understands Fixed and Growth Mindsets. They may even advocate for a Growth Mindset and attempt to implement Growth Mindset strategies. But because they haven’t spent the time to deeply examine their own Mindset and nurture a more growth-oriented Mindset, their actions communicate more fixed messages. 13 | Professional Learning Series | jamesanderson.com.au LEADING GROWTH MINDSETS: SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS So, what’s the lesson here for school leaders? When it comes to Mindsets, doing nothing may well be a better option than doing a little, badly. We need to avoid the superficial approaches and quick fixes. If changing Mindsets was easy, we would have worked out how to do it long ago. To prevent schlimmbesserung, our approaches need to be grounded in a deep understanding not only of what a Growth Mindset is, but how to achieve growth through Learning Agility. Original Article Anderson, J., 2018, Schlimmbesserung, mindfulbydesign, accessed 17th July 2019, <https://mindfulbydesign.com/schlimmbesserung/> 14 | Professional Learning Series | jamesanderson.com.au LEADING GROWTH MINDSETS: SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS jamesanderson.com.au OUR MINDSET IS OUR IT IS WHAT GUIDES OUR ACTIONS AND DECISIONS WHEN WE ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION. JAMES ANDERSON UNCONSCIOUS BIAS. 15 | Professional Learning Series | jamesanderson.com.au LEADING GROWTH MINDSETS: SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS There is no doubt that Mindsets matter. Research clearly shows that a student’s Mindset is extremely important. For example: • A study of all 10th-grade students in Chile1 (more than 160,000 students) showed that holding a Growth Mindset predicted academic achievement across every socioeconomic level. • In California, data from more than 100,000 middle schoolers2 found that students’ Mindsets were reliable predictors of their test scores. • A meta-study of 113 studies3 showed that Growth Mindset was a significant factor in people’s self-regulation towards goals. • A study of 15-year-old students across 39 European countries4 showed that Mindset explained a greater proportion of their PISA scores than their home environment. And in Latin America and North America, Mindset had double or triple the effect of home environment. The research clearly shows that having a Growth Mindset is associated with better performance. But this is NOT what educators should be concerning themselves with. Simply knowing that a Growth Mindset is associated with higher performance isn’t particularly helpful, unless we can change Mindsets to improve student outcomes. So, the key question educators should be asking is: can we change a student’s Mindset? And if we can, what is the most effective way of doing it? TEACHING ABOUT MINDSETS IS NOT THE ANSWER Many educators have tried to change students’ Mindsets by teaching ABOUT Mindsets. This approach is based on the theory that if you teach students what a Growth Mindset is, tell them what people with a Growth Mindset do, then ask students to have one, they’ll adopt a Growth Mindset and better results will follow. Social media is full of “teach ABOUT Mindsets” approaches. But there is little evidence that this type of approach works. MINDSETS MATTER – BUT THAT’S ONLY HALF THE STORY