Failing Forwards – More on my mindset journey.


I think this image provides a pretty accurate metaphor for the work I am trying to do on Mindsets as I prepare for leading whole staff INSET this Friday! It’s strange that as I understand what it means to have a growth mindset I still find it challenging to write a post which acknowledges some failure in my initial intentions.

At the outset I planned to carry out a lesson study with a colleague in the history department. We were seeking to investigate the impact of teaching about mindset on one specific class that we both taught. I had already carried out a mindset questionnaire and gathered information about each child’s mindset. Between myself and my colleague we delivered two one hour sessions on mindset. Then during the next three weeks we;

-presented the students with opportunities to take risks in their learning with extra tough tasks.

– awarded stickers for the times we saw students displaying growth mindset behaviour/attitudes in class.

-wrote home to parents congratulating individuals on particular aspects of growth mindset.

-changed our language when speaking to the students, seeking to avoid praise which simply would reinforce fixed mindsets.

Whilst all these things were positive developments we lost sight of the lesson study process. We didn’t interview our students, we didn’t get in to watch each other teach more than once and we therefore could not draw on the things we could have perhaps learned. This is a hurdle we well and truly stumbled at.

However this is indeed just a stumble. This process has resulted in at least two outcomes for me.

1. Lesson study requires more planning and structure than I first thought. As I move into the new academic year it is going to be on my CPD. This is a process which I believe is of benefit, I haven’t got it right this time around but I now have a better understanding of the way to approach it in the new year.

2. Today I got back final questionnaires from the year 8 group we’d been working with. Originally 48% of students had a fairly fixed mindset and were not open to taking on challenges in their learning. The results of their most recent questionnaire show a shift to 33% with fairly fixed mindsets, so an increase to 67% of students in that class with a growth orientated mindset. The 67% all say that they are far more willing to take on challenges in their learning and that they are likely to try harder to overcome difficulties in learning rather than give up.

Four weeks in total working with this group just in RE and history has had an impact. It hasn’t moved the most fixed mindset students but it has caused a momentum towards growth mindset within the group. I can’t wait to share this with the whole staff on INSET day. Imagine what would happen if we were all working towards this!

There may be hurdles in this journey, I may be stumbling at times, but one thing is for certain I am failing forward and I hope many more will join in!


About Learning to Teach Lorraine Abbott

Deputy Headteacher in a Surrey School Author for Hodder Education
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