In the start of my masters, in July, I really have to dive into what growth mindset incorporated. In my paper, I designed a week-long lesson plan for the first week of school where I taught my students Carol Dweck's (2010 Mindset website) four steps to changing your mindset.
•Step 1- Learning to listen to the fixed mindset "voice."
•Step 2- Recognize that they have a choice in their growth mindset.
•Step 3- Talk back to Fanny (fixed mindset) with a growth mindset voice.
•Step 4- Taking the growth mindset to action.
In my district, we are asked to set aside the first five days at the beginning of the year to teach the expectations and have a community building. Adding this growth mindset lesson plan started the year off with a bang! It was amazing how I could see the children connecting to books that I read. On the second day, we read Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by Deak, and I saw that this one little boy (we will call him Tim) cringe when I told them that as they would learn things this year, their brain might hurt (like muscle does when you exercise.) At that time, I knew he had a “fixed mindset” because Tim feels like he needs to quit when he cannot do things in class. We have had some successes with him, and I reflected on this a couple of months ago.
I have connected in growth mindset with quite a few things. I voiced with my colleagues about rewards and praise. Alphie Kohn (not related to me) talks about that praise or being rewarded by doing is more about controlling than encouraging. It is having the child get something with strings attached. The students need our unconditional support by commending their effort. In my makerspace area, I feel like I can give them praise for their effort that they put into their projects. I know that this is why I would like the whole school to be able to push themselves to explore different things too. I have not given rewards to certain students this year. Instead, I give gifts to the whole class for their effort in working on their projects. I have given a snowflake ornament to each of my students (in all my years of teaching.) I read this poem (by a Pinterested Parent) to them:
I want the students to realize that they do not have to compare each other to themselves. They need to know that all people have their own way to grow. I have put the students in groups that are more level, so I can differentiate the instruction and challenge the students that are ready for things at the next grade level. I have decided that I need to be challenged so I do not become bored. Being in graduate school has allowed me to learn so much, even though I am very busy with the assignments and readings. I have said this before, but I love learning, and I am growing as a teacher and as a person.
Mistakes have become my friend. I used to hate to make a mistake, but I have realized that it is a way for me to learn. During math meetings, we tend to have many errors (see blog post.) This makes the class a great atmosphere where we can use the mistakes to be a learning opportunity. If the students do not make a mistake, I make one!
Growth mindset…YET…mistakes…Again, I am so glad that I started with this the first week of school. The district that I teach in wants to be a growth mindset district. I am not sure all the teacher and administration know what it incorporates. I am planning to share my plan with someone in the district.
Andreae, G., & Parker-Rees, G. (2001). Giraffes can't dance. New York: Orchard Books.
Deak, J. M., & Ackerley, S. (2010). Your fantastic elastic brain: Stretch it, shape it. Belvedere,
California: Little Pickle.
Diesen, D. (2014). The pout-pout fish goes to school. London: Macmillan Children's
Dweck, C. (2016). Mindset- the new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine Books.
Dweck, C. (2010). How can you change your mindset from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset?
Monae, J. (2014, September 10). Power of yet. On Sesame Street. New York: Sesame Workshop.
Reed, C. (2016). Growth mindset: the power of yet. Retrieved from
Smith, K. (2017, August 19). Developing a growth mindset in young learners. A Day in First
Yamada, K. (2016). What do you do with a problem? China: Compendium, Inc.
Since the first week of school, I have incorporated growth mindset in my classroom. I have seen most of the students feel more comfortable when they mistakes and we can "fix" them. This takes place during the Math Meeting time where the students make number sentences and they are adding (or subtracting) to get to the number of the day.
What is my “why?” Many people have asked me- “why are you getting your masters?” Some think it is so I can teach older grades. I tell them that it could take me to other opportunities that might not happen without a masters (maybe a Technology Learning Coach or something else.) Really, I just love to learn! I love to collaborate with other teachers and see how they use things in their class. It has been wonderful to start this masters right before school starting, so I can start the school with all of these ideas that we have been reading and discussing about.