I began thinking about Mindsets just over a year ago when after a course in London I came across an article about the book ‘Mindset’ by university psychologist Carol Dweck. I went on to read her book and on an individual level it initially affected the language I used in my marking. However as I began to think about the INSET day I am to deliver in my school this July I kept returning to her research, without changing students’ mindsets, and perhaps even some staff mindsets its hard to see how we really will enable our students to make the progress that they have the capacity for.
If at this point you remain in the dark about what is meant by Mindset can I point you in the direction of a really excellent blog by John Tomsett http://johntomsett.com/2013/10/20/this-much-i-know-about-developing-a-dweck-inspired-growth-mindset-culture/
Having decided on using the INSET to share Mindset with the staff & spend some time reflecting on how we can begin to embed it in our daily practice I read a great blog by Shaun Allison (https://classteaching.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/growing-our-mindset/). From Shaun’s blog my starting point became obvious. What I first needed to do was to find out what the mindset of each of our students and ours staff is. The questionnaires I used can be found in John’s previously mentioned blog.
I have now almost completed working out the Mindset scores for all our students from years 7-10. The highest score that it is possible to get is a 6, the closer to 6 a score is the more of a growth mindset is indicated. The results are astounding. The majority of our students have a realatively fixed Mindset. There are around one third of students with a score of above 4.2, and only a handful of students have hit 5 or above. This is a serious factor that will inhibit the students’ progress.
My next step in the preparation for the INSET has been to start a Lesson Study with another colleague. (Once complete we will formally write up our Study)You can find out more about Lesson Study at http://lessonstudy.co.uk We have chosen a year 8 group to work with. Year 8 have low literacy levels and are making limited progress across the board. Our focus has been to teach the class about Mindsets, to adapt the language of our feedback to encourage a growth mindset and to make our mantra “striving for excellence”.
My colleague and I have delivered two initial lessons together, the first taught students about Mindset and the second took a P4C approach exploring excellence. Then in both our subjects, mine is RE and my colleague’s is history we have set the students off on a project.
In RE the students have a project sheet in their books with the mindset criteria on and the option of stepping into a level 5,6 or 7 task. The next page in their book is blank and I’ve called this their ‘Brag Board’. Every time a student exhibits a growth mindset e.g. takes a risk, puts in 100% effort, uses a failure as an opportunity to progress then I put a sticker on their page. As their page fills with stickers they are aware and so am I that their mindset is one of growth. Many students in the first lesson chose to take up the challenge of a higher level task. When I asked one student who has a mindset of 4.1 if he was going to take the level 6 challenge he said to me “I can’t do level 6”. My immediate response was to begin my well prepared speech that reminded him that it wasn’t “I can’t do it” but rather “I can’t do it, yet!” But he interrupted me and said “Miss I can’t do level 6 because I can attempt level 7!”, what a risk for a student who has a 5A target for the end of year 9.
In addition to this we have also created some growth mindset cards that we will send home when students have exhibited a particular aspect of the growth mindset. To communicate to parent’s the mindset characteristics that we value, notice and that make a difference to a student’s progress. We have made use of some materials from @SparkyTeaching to generate these cards. The first batch of 12 will be winging their way to parent’s tomorrow night.
At the end of the RE project and the history project for this group we will analyse both individual student progress and their rate of progress compared with the first two terms. If other research is anything to go by there should be a noticeable increase. As part of our Lesson Study we will also be interviewing three students from the class over the next few weeks. We have chosen one student with a 2.4 mindset, the student I mentioned earlier with the 4.1 mindset and another student with a 5.2 mindset. More on this when I write up the study itself.
When I deliver the INSET in July I know that I want all staff to be made aware of three things;
- What mindset is & therefore its significance
- The mindset of the student’s they teach
- The way in which applying our understanding of mindset to our teaching practice can transform learning in our classrooms
This will then be a journey embedding a growth mindset in the school ethos and all aspects of teaching and learning.
I shall blog the outcome of the growth mindset work with the year 8 class in June.