The Next Steps In Our Mindset Journey

In my last blog (Mindset Journey) I explained the thinking and preparation involved as I prepare for leading a whole school INSET day on Mindset. Thus far my year 8 have just completed their RE project. During their project lessons I had also taught them about mindset and put in place strategies to reinforce the importance and value of mindset. I now have to mark their work and track their results against previous levels, I’m hoping to see a trend towards increased progress.

Along the way then I have developed some materials to use with the students to try and raise the profile of characteristics associated with growth mindset. I am certain these materials can be developed and improved upon, and I’d very much welcome any such development ideas.

So first the students had a bookmark with the four key characteristics of a growth mindset. This bookmark also formed a banner on their task sheet. It served as a constant reminder of of the way in which I wanted them to work. Secondly we introduced the use of brag boards. These were simply sheets on which I gave the students a sticker every time I saw them exhibit a particular growth mindset characteristics, the students seemed to respond well to these, the fact they were ‘stinky stickers’ may have helped. These resources can all be seen in my Mindset Drop Box.

In addition to this I converted the Sparky Teaching ‘Fly Right’postcards into folded cards and had mail merged letters printed into them. I sent home these cards to students who had been awarded stickers, the content of the cards is also in the drop box. The message to parents was also about growth mindset, not ability or levels.

Having not yet marked their work it is hard to demonstrate that all this work has made any impact on their progress, and perhaps four or five weeks is far too short a time in which this can happen, who knows? Well when I do I will blog! However I have encountered some changes in learning attitudes in the classroom with the students.

I instigated an extra challenge in class for any student to opt into. I created a stretch and challenge desk. On this desk I put text books and information related to the project that ranged from level 6 to 8 and also some GCSE material. The student’s challenge was simple; opt into using material from this desk to investigate and demonstrate the differences within Hinduism and the reasons for such differences. The language of some of the information was complex with references to deities, Shavism, avatars, transcendence and doctrines. What I saw was over half the class choosing to ‘give it a go!’. This included some students who at that point were level 4 and who have low reading scores. We had some great conversations about new words and the need for them to find what they could in dictionaries and then come ask me when they had words they still could not find the meaning to. I was also challenged to then offer ways in which they could, at their level, demonstrate what they had learned. Some used tables others wrote in paragraphs and some who really excelled generated their own new diagrams to illustrate their learning.

The other thing I noticed was the number of students who re-drafted work, dis-satisfied with first attempts. One boy with a mindset score of 4.2 rewrote a whole piece and came in at lunchtime to catch up because he wanted to do his best.

The final positive aspect that I think is worth mentioning is that whilst some students with a low mindset score appeared to be more open to risk taking, those with a growth mindset score just flew. They seized¬†every opportunity with both hands and exploited it beyond my expectations. A project due to have two sections now has four or five high quality sections from some students. The growth minded also readily and repeatedly asked how they could push their work up. I began to realise that for some of my students my topic choice was ultimately the limiting factor, it didn’t really allow for level 7 work without a good deal of modification.

There have been students who have struggled to step out and put in the effort. I really knew this at the start because I knew who had what mindset score. Doing the mindset scoring has really raised my awareness in the classroom as to why some individuals may be limiting their effort, or creating diversions from their work. However my hunch is that in a classroom where growth mindset is gradually adopted by the majority, and in which I continue to use the language of growth mindset, eventually the more fixed students will change. As Dweck tells us, its never too late!

I will post my INSET materials and results from marking these year 8 projects in the next few weeks.




About Learning to Teach Lorraine Abbott

Deputy Headteacher in a Surrey School Author for Hodder Education
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