The Growth Mindset Coach; A Teacher's Month-by-Month

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2022 • 15 Pages • 812.2 KB • English
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Summary of The Growth Mindset Coach; A Teacher's Month-by-Month

Text copyright © 2016 Annie Brock and Heather Hundley. Design and concept copyright © 2016 Ulysses Press and its licensors. All rights reserved. Any unauthorized duplication in whole or in part or dissemination of this edition by any means (including but not limited to photocopying, electronic devices, digital versions, and the Internet) will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. equality/equity illustration page 67 courtesy of Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire Distributed by Publishers Group West IMPORTANT NOTE TO READERS: This book is independently authored and published and no sponsorship or endorsement of this book by, and no affiliation with, any trademarked brands or other products mentioned within is claimed or suggested. All trademarks that appear in this book belong to their respective owners and are used here for informational purposes only. The authors and publisher encourage readers to patronize the quality brands and products mentioned in this book. Published in the United States by: Ulysses Press P.O. Box 3440 Berkeley, CA 94703 ISBN 13: 978-1-61243-626-5 Library of Congress Control Number: 2016934493 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Acquisitions editor: Casie Vogel Managing editor: Claire Chun Editor: Paula Dragosh Proofreader: Renee Rutledge Indexer: Jay Kreider Front cover/interior design and layout: [email protected] Artwork: abstract tree with icons © venimo/; brain page 30 © Satymova Alena/; CONTENTS Introduction: The Two Mindsets Chapter 1: AUGUST: Teaching Is a Practice, Not a Perfection Chapter 2: SEPTEMBER: Everyone Can Learn! Chapter 3: OCTOBER: My Brain Is Like a Muscle That Grows! Chapter 4: NOVEMBER: I Am a Valued Member of This Learning Community Chapter 5: DECEMBER: We Love a Challenge! Chapter 6: JANUARY: Feedback Is a Gift — Accept It Chapter 7: FEBRUARY: A Goal Without a Plan Is Just a Wish Chapter 8: MARCH: Mistakes are opportunities for learning Chapter 9: APRIL: There’s a difference between not knowing and not knowing yet! Chapter 10: MAY: I got this! Chapter 11: JUNE: I can’t take care of others if I don’t take care of myself Chapter 12: JULY: A New Day Is a New Opportunity to Grow Endnotes Acknowledgments About the Authors INTRODUCTION THE TWO MINDSETS In 2006, Carol Dweck, the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, published a book called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In this chronicle of over thirty years of research into how people succeed, Dweck details her simple, but powerful, theory on two mindsets she discovered in her subjects, which she named the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.1 FIXED MINDSET: The belief that we’re born with a fixed amount of intelligence and ability. People operating in the fixed mindset are prone to avoiding challenges and failures, thereby robbing themselves of a life rich in experience and learning.2 GROWTH MINDSET: The belief that with practice, perseverance, and effort, people have limitless potential to learn and grow. People operating in the growth mindset tackle challenges with aplomb, unconcerned with making mistakes or being embarrassed, focusing instead on the process of growth.3 These opposing mindsets — fixed and growth — exist in us all, and whether we choose to view various aspects of our lives through the lens of the growth mindset or the fixed mindset can make a big difference. In Mindset, Dweck points out that all people begin life with a growth mindset. Indeed, babies are the very picture of the growth mindset. They don’t care if what they’re saying makes no sense, because they’re learning to talk. If they fall down after a few steps, they get right back up, because they’re learning to walk. “What could put an end to this exuberant learning?” asks Dweck in her book. “The fixed mindset. As soon as children become able to evaluate themselves, some of them become afraid of challenges. They become afraid of not being smart.” The Growth Mindset Coach is inspired by Dweck’s impressive body of work and research, and offers advice and guidance for teachers who want to tap into the power of the growth mindset. Our experience as classroom teachers has led us to believe wholeheartedly in Dweck’s theory that a growth mindset in the classroom can significantly improve student achievement. As teachers we are given opportunities every day to encourage a growth mindset in our students and in members of our school community. In this book, we seek to illuminate specific areas that offer opportunities to cultivate growth mindsets among their students, as well as practical strategies for those who want to seize these opportunities in an effort to empower students to achieve. HOW TO USE THIS BOOK Our book is intended to serve as a guide for teachers interested in creating a growth- oriented environment in their classrooms. Transitioning a classroom from the traditional method of instruction and assessment to the growth-mindset way takes a lot of work. We wrote this book to help teachers break down this task into manageable chunks, getting practice in different areas of growth-mindset teaching along the way. Many of the names and identifying details in this book have been changed to protect the identities of students and colleagues with whom we’ve worked. Additionally, our teaching experience, while rich and fulfilling, has mostly been practiced in rural, low- income schools, with predominately white and Native American students. The dynamics of our classrooms may be different from classrooms in an urban setting, at a charter school, at a religious school, and so forth. We understand that what has worked for us may not work in every situation, and we encourage you to adapt and modify the resources, tools, and strategies in this book to suit your needs. Each chapter of The Growth Mindset Coach corresponds to a month of the year; each month has a spotlight theme for growth and includes strategies to strengthen your growth-oriented classroom. You’ll be engaging with students, parents, and teachers each month to foster the growth mindset in yourself and among classroom and school shareholders. We start by talking through the process of teaching your students about the growth mindset. Once you’ve learned the basics, you’ll spend the year developing your growth mindsets together and taking a deep dive each month into different areas we’ve identified as central to a growth-oriented classroom. At the end of the year, your students will have had a multifaceted, growth-oriented experience and will be able to use the skills they’ve learned as they move forward in their educational journey. Remember, using the growth mindset in teaching is a work in progress. Incorporating a new classroom ethos is a big undertaking! There will be failures, mistakes, and setbacks along the way, but remember to keep a growth mindset about it. Know that each stumbling block is an opportunity to learn something new and improve your methods. It may not be easy, but we guarantee it’ll be worth it. HOW THE BOOK IS ORGANIZED As we said earlier, each chapter is aligned with a month of the year. If you pick this book up in February, don’t sweat it. Just start from the beginning and implement growth-mindset strategies where you can. This isn’t an all-or-nothing approach. There’s no one right way to create a growth-mindset classroom. Teachers have used a wide variety of tools and strategies to develop and hone their students’ growth mindsets. It’s not important to us that you follow this book to the letter; it’s important that you find what works for you and your students. Each month begins with a monthly mantra. We’re big into repeat-after-me mantras. These are little affirmations that you and your students say together throughout the month to zero in on the monthly goal for growth. In our experience, repeating affirmations helps cement their truth in the minds of your students. Think back to a particularly challenging class you had as a student. If you had started the day by saying “Everyone can learn!” together with your teacher and classmates, would you have felt more confident in your ability to master the course content? We think so! We’ve watched our own students incorporate class mantras into their regular discourse. One day, you’ll overhear a child lean over to a struggling classmate and whisper, “Keep trying. Everyone can learn this,” and it’ll feel incredible. In addition to the monthly mantra, each chapter has specific objectives. We provide scientific research, classroom anecdotes, lesson plans, and tips and strategies to help you explore using growth mindset in different areas of teaching. Let’s take a look at what we cover in each chapter: AUGUST’S MANTRA: Teaching Is a Practice, Not a Perfection In the first chapter, we talk, in-depth, about the mindsets. You’ll familiarize yourself with the definition and characteristics of the two mindsets, and read anecdotes and examples of teaching in the growth and fixed mindsets. We ask you to do some goal setting, reflection, and future thinking so you can start visualizing what your growth- oriented classroom will and will not look like and what effort and adjustments you need to make to get there. Growth mindset strongly emphasizes process over perfection. You won’t have an unassailable growth mindset or a foolproof plan for cultivating growth mindset in others by the end of reading the chapter. We’re still working toward those things! But here’s a little secret. What’s the best way to tell whether you have growth mindset? You still consider yourself a work in progress. SEPTEMBER’S MANTRA: Everyone Can Learn! If the central thesis of growth mindset had to be summed up in three words or less it would be “Everyone can learn!” Does this mean that we all have the same potential? No. Does this mean that we’re all capable of the same amount of success in any given area? No. Does this mean that if we try hard we’ll ace all our schoolwork? No. When we say “Everyone can learn,” we simply mean that every person has the potential to develop, grow, and achieve in any given area. This month you have to do the hard work of convincing your students that no matter where they consider themselves to be in terms of intellect and skill, with hard work and perseverance, they can develop beyond that point. September is all about setting the tone for a growth-oriented year. We provide you with a detailed lesson plan to help teach your students to identify what growth and fixed mindsets are, and convince them that everyone has the ability to achieve. OCTOBER’S MANTRA: My Brain Is Like a Muscle That Grows! So you’ve taught your students the difference between the growth and fixed mindsets, but they’re hungry for more information. Like, exactly how is it that our brains learn and grow? This month, we talk about the science behind growth mindset. Neuroplasticity refers to the malleable nature of our brains. You’ll dive deep into the world of neurons and dendrites, and give your students a detailed tour of their brains. At the end of the month, they’ll understand that, like a muscle, the brain can grow and strengthen with regular practice. NOVEMBER’S MANTRA: I Am a Valued Member of This Learning Community This month focuses on relationship building. Tackling challenges and difficult learning tasks with a growth mindset can be scary for students. They wonder, what if I fail? Will I be judged? Will people think that I’m stupid? Students have to believe that their classroom is a safe place in which they can take educational risks. We offer tips and ideas for building stronger relationships with students, parents, and colleagues, because when a strong foundation of meaningful relationships is laid, students are able to show vulnerability and open themselves to new challenges. Only then can they soar to their highest heights. DECEMBER’S MANTRA: We Love a Challenge! A student in the growth mindset is motivated to tackle new challenges and overcome obstacles, but if you aren’t offering challenging work in the classroom, mindset is largely irrelevant. In this section, we discuss the necessity of sufficiently challenging each student in your class. We also talk about the value of having high expectations for each student. Educational challenges and high expectations are both characteristics of a growth-oriented classroom. This month, we talk about how to implement a concrete plan for growth and communicate expectations to students and colleagues that sets the tone for the year and serves as a framework for maintaining a growth mindset in the context of learning, because doing hard things is exercise for our brains. JANUARY’S MANTRA: Feedback Is a Gift — Accept It Feedback is a critical component of developing a growth-oriented classroom. Much of Dweck’s research focuses on praising children in a way that celebrates the effort they put into something, as opposed to their “natural” qualities and talents. In January, we go in-depth on the concept of person praise (You’re so smart) and process praise (You worked really hard on this), and give teachers strategies for incorporating process praise in class. Students should also be equipped with the skills to offer each other appropriate, helpful praise and critique. Teachers who offer feedback only in the form of red check marks or glittery stickers are missing an important opportunity to help students explore steps they can take to improve and make connections between effort and success. Offering specific, timely, purposeful, consistent feedback may have more impact on the growth mindsets of your students than any other practice you engage in this year. FEBRUARY’S MANTRA: A Goal without a Plan Is Just a Wish Learning how to set goals and creating a plan for achieving them is important in a growth-oriented classroom. Without the critical component of goal setting, students won’t focus on where they want to take their learning. Goal setting is also important to developing the personal characteristic of grit. The idea of grit has gained popularity in educational circles recently. In February, we look at what grit is, how you can teach your students about grit, and how to help them develop it by helping them pursue goals worthy of their passion and perseverance. MARCH’S MANTRA: Mistakes Are Opportunities for Learning In March you’ll make efforts to normalize mistakes in the classroom. In the growth mindset, making mistakes and overcoming obstacles in learning are just part of the path to mastery. But all too often, the fear of making mistakes keeps students from taking on challenges. We share with you ways to reframe student mistakes as valuable learning opportunities, as well as offer ideas for coaching students through setbacks. Learning shouldn’t be neat; learning is messy and full of peaks and pitfalls and two steps forward and one step back. In the growth mindset, you don’t just anticipate mistakes, you embrace them as an integral part of the learning process. We also discuss strategies for creating opportunities for “productive struggle” in your classroom. APRIL’S MANTRA: There’s a Difference Between Not Knowing and Not Knowing Yet! Yet is a tiny word with a big meaning. This month, you’ll learn how the power of yet can reinforce growth mindset in learning. You’ll even meet some teachers who are replacing grades with “not yets.” April is all about helping you formulate a plan to incorporate the power of yet in your classroom through purposeful formative and summative assessment, as well as offering twists on evaluation that emphasize mastery over letter grades. And we share ways that you can empower students to direct their own learning, provide opportunities for them to think critically to solve authentic problems, and help them practice essential skills relevant to the real world. MAY’S MANTRA: I Got This! May has arrived, and it’s time to send your students home for the summer. But how can you make sure their growth-mindset training doesn’t get lost on the summer slide? This chapter is about equipping students with the tools they’ll need to continue using growth mindset in their educational and personal lives after they leave your classroom. We teach you the value of self-talk and coach you through helping students develop a plan to control the fixed-mindset voice that lives their head. Finally, you’ll help students establish a plan for using growth mindset over the summer to reinforce your mindset instruction. JUNE’S MANTRA: I Can’t Take Care of Others If I Don’t Take Care of Myself June is all about reflection, relaxation, and renewal. We walk you through guided journaling with questions and prompts to help you engage in deep reflection about your growth-mindset experience. We also talk about the value of sharpening the saw — or taking care of your personal needs — during the summer months as a way to develop healthy habits and renew your mind, body, and spirit after a year of hard work. JULY’S MANTRA: A New Day Is a New Opportunity to Grow Summertime is your chance to shift out of teaching mode and fully engage your learning mode. This month is packed full of growth-mindset resources you can use to further your training, as well as tips and strategies for practicing growth mindset in everyday situations. We also give you advice for developing an online personal learning network through Twitter and other social media platforms in order to extend your base of support and deepen your well of knowledge. The Growth Mindset Coach is a guidebook on your journey to developing your growth mindset and fostering the growth mindsets of your students. It’s important to acknowledge that this is a journey that has no end. As Dweck writes, “The path to growth mindset is a journey, not a proclamation.” In other words, if someone definitively declares “I have a growth mindset,” that person is lying to you. Mindset is not an either-or thing. We all have a fixed mindset and a growth mindset; it’s just a matter of deciding which one to use in any given situation. Even if you become highly attuned to your growth mindset, you can rest assured that your fixed mindset will remain firmly in your head, waiting to beckon to you to join it in avoiding a challenge or wallowing in failure. Through the process described in this chapter, we hope to teach you how to engage your growth mindset and curb your fixed mindset, fortify yourself with the necessary skills and strategies to live a life devoted to learning and growing, and use our tools to foster growth mindset in your students. 1 AUGUST: TEACHING IS A PRACTICE, NOT A PERFECTION It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop. — Confucius OBJECTIVES Familiarize yourself with growth and fixed mindsets. Reflect on the mindsets of your former teachers. Set goals to incorporate growth mindset in the upcoming school year. MINDSETS For many years, people have bought into the notion that certain abilities and qualities of our nature are fixed. You might have heard someone say “I’m not athletic” or “I’m not a math person,” or you might’ve even said something like this yourself. And up until recently, many of us have accepted that there are certain unchangeable aspects of ourselves. Archetypal media representations of nerds, jocks, and meatheads have furthered the notion that certain people are simply destined for certain outcomes that are off-limits to others. That is, until Carol Dweck’s Mindset was published and read by millions the world over. In Mindset, Dweck lays out the evidence she and her team collected through years of research, which reinforces a simple, but powerful, theory: human intelligence, creativity, athleticism, and other qualities are not fixed traits that we’re born with. Rather, they’re malleable ones that with time and effort can be changed.4 Dweck identifies two types of what she calls “mindsets” in her research: growth and fixed. FIXED MINDSET: Assumes that intelligence and other qualities, abilities, and talents are fixed traits that cannot be significantly developed. Those with a fixed mindset have bought into the idea, often from a very early age, that things like intelligence and other talents and abilities are of a fixed nature — they cannot be changed. A fixed mindset believes people have a certain amount of talent and intelligence in any given area. In other words, if you aren’t naturally gifted at something or don’t catch on to it right away, you might as well forget it. Often people of the fixed mindset work very hard to shed light on those areas in which they “naturally” excel and cover up areas in which they don’t. GROWTH MINDSET: Assumes that intelligence and other qualities, abilities, and talents can be developed with effort, learning, and dedication. People with a growth mindset view themselves in an altogether different way than those with a fixed mindset. A person who tends toward the growth mindset sees things like intelligence or artistic and athletic abilities not as fixed traits but as qualities that can be changed and improved with time and effort. A growth mindset operates under the assumption that our qualities are not inherent or natural or that we’re only given so much of them, but that our willingness to learn, our effort, and our persistence dictate how adept we become at any given pursuit. The growth mindset does not buy into the idea that there are “math people” or “creative people” or “athletic people,” but with hard work and perseverance, anyone can achieve success in any area. Once a person learns to harness the growth mindset, the powerful forces of growth take over. No longer are failures viewed through a lens of disappointment and shame, but through one of opportunity for improvement. The growth mindset doesn’t ignore the fact that some of us may have more inherent aptitude for some things — we’ve all seen children with a seemingly natural affinity for singing beautifully, hitting home runs, or reading beyond their years — rather, it understands that aptitude can be fortified with experience and effort, bolstered with resilience, and ultimately lead to great success regardless of the starting point. Does that mean we’re all just a few singing lessons away from becoming the next Adele? Not in the least. It just means, as Dweck says, “that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.”5 EXAMPLES OF GROWTH MINDSET History is filled with paragons of growth mindset — people who have worked hard, refused to give up, and succeeded against all odds. American history is rich with stories of people like the pioneers, who battled brutal conditions as they headed West toward the promise of a better life, or the activists of the civil rights movement, who stood up against the systemic oppression they endured long after slavery ended and worked tirelessly for change at great personal risk. Growth mindset can be seen in individual stories, as well — groundbreaking people who worked hard to turn dreams into realities. The Olympic track star Wilma Rudolph started life as a premature baby in 1940s-era Tennessee, the twentieth of her father’s twenty-two children. After battling scarlet fever and polio, she lost the use of her leg at just six years old. Her mother took her to weekly treatments, and her siblings massaged her leg every day. By the time she was nine, Rudolph had shed her leg brace and started moving. Later, her legs would carry her to gold in the 1960 Rome Olympics.6 Remember the movie Rudy? It’s based on the story of Rudy Ruettiger, a working-class kid from Joliet, Illinois, whose childhood dream was to attend the University of Notre Dame. Despite a challenging dyslexia diagnosis and three rejections from Notre Dame, Rudy eventually was admitted to the prestigious university, where he set his sights on joining the football team. Through his displays of indefatigable work ethic, the five-foot-six-inch Rudy made it on the scout squad, and later into a single game, where in the final three plays he made one of the most memorable quarterback sacks in college football history.7 Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor grew up in the impoverished projects of the Bronx. Her mother began life as an orphan in Puerto Rico, and her father had only a third-grade education. Her mother emphasized the value of work ethic and education as a path to success, and young Sonia worked tirelessly at her studies, despite dealing with the effects of her father’s alcoholism and early death, and her own diabetic condition, eventually earning a spot in the Ivy League. Sotomayor gives much of the credit for her success to those who helped her along the way, though it’s clear her hard work and willingness to confront any challenge or obstacle contributed significantly to her incredible journey.8 Marie Curie is another exemplar of the growth mindset. Born in war-torn, politically charged Warsaw, Poland, where women, particularly Polish women, were not allowed to pursue higher education, Curie had to create opportunities, often at great personal risk, to learn about math, chemistry, and physics — the subjects she loved. Later she became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.9 Malala Yousafzai was a ten-year-old girl from Pakistan with a zeal for education when Taliban forces infiltrated her region and banned girls from attending school. Malala’s unwavering belief in her right to an education led her to start an anonymous blog, where she wrote about her desire to go to school and quickly became a voice for disenfranchised Pakistani girls being robbed of an education. When she was fifteen years old, Malala was riding a bus home when it was stopped by Taliban forces; one fighter boarded the bus, asked for Malala by name, and then shot her in the head. Against all odds, Malala survived the attack and refused to let the bullet silence her, redoubling her efforts to fight for equal rights in education. In 2014 Malala Yousafzai became the youngest-ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and to this day she continues to advocate on behalf of girls all over the world in need of quality education.10 People who cultivate a growth mindset are more resilient in the face of setbacks or obstacles. The growth mindset, after all, relishes the process of learning, not achievement. While someone of a fixed mindset revels in success and admiration for being able to learn and accomplish with seemingly little to no effort, a person in the growth mindset is not satisfied with superficial achievement. When failure comes to people with a fixed mindset, as it inevitably does, they’re far less equipped to deal with it because, in their mind, it speaks to their inadequacy as a person, rather than a challenge to be overcome or an obstacle to be negotiated. When failure comes to people with the growth mindset, on the other hand, they view it as a learning opportunity that will serve them as they try again.

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