Mindset, abundance

Even though I’ve switched middle schools a colleague in my former building and I continue to commiserate on the implementation of Carol Dweck’s growth mindset research. Nurturing a growth mindset is a daunting task. It requires creating and sustaining the conditions for it with multiple learning opportunities, feedback that’s timely (and implemented!), and frequent formative assessments.

What my colleague and I have both feared, and Dweck  too, is that growth mindset has been reduced to the grit mentality of telling the students to work harder.

A growth mindset isn’t just about effort. Perhaps the most common misconception is simply equating the growth mindset with effort. Certainly, effort is key for students’ achievement, but it’s not the only thing. Students need to try new strategies and seek input from others when they’re stuck. They need this repertoire of approaches—not just sheer effort—to learn and improve.

Could this be a reason why the growth mindset effect size is only 0.19? Hattie thinks teachers treat their students with a fixed mindset. Is focusing our attention on effort a fixed mindset?

Now I wonder, should we be asking a different set of questions?

personalgrowthmindset

I am so conflicted right now I’m putting mindset in the back of my mind. Instead my focus is on abundance.

The biggest gift of abundance I can give students is patience. I have to remember they are children. They don’t share the same enthusiasm for learning as I do. Or worse, they’ve quit on themselves because of a self-concept they’ve developed. That patience will also serve me well when students learn implementing feedback is a requirement, not an option.

I can also give an abundance of learning opportunities that weave the concrete, representational, and abstract. For example, when re-teaching estimating percent of a number several students got the concept when I introduced a bar model. In fact one said, “Can I do this on the test?” Of course.

One final gift of abundance is continuous self-reflection. We put students on a treadmill and never give them time to step off and check their heart rate. How can they take ownership of their learning when we don’t give them time to reflect on the learning process?

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5 thoughts on “Mindset, abundance

  1. I agree 100% about fear of simply telling students to work harder or longer. We have to teach them how to do that…what it looks like, sounds like…

    I am thoroughly enjoying the book (currently on chapter 9) and am thinking about taking the course.

    1. I’ve previously written about effective effort and the 100% factor. I do agree these strategies need to be modeled, but I continue to search for a better balance that includes experiencing a sense of satisfaction from doing your personal best. Some element of satisfaction has to take place or why continue to put forth the effort if you are not getting the results you want? That’s why I’m drawn to some of those personal growth mindset questions. I appreciate you taking the time to comment!

  2. Thanks for this post, Mary, and for the links. I enjoyed the reading, and thinking, expanding my forever growing mindset. I have referred to your post and those mentioned in a post on my blog. http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-DB
    I am an early childhood teacher so your questions for middle-school students seem a bit out of reach for me. I’ll be interested to hear how your students respond.
    It is difficult, with lots of conflicting advice to know just how to proceed. In an attempt at using a growth mindset affirmation, i would say that the important thing is to combine the continued effort to improve with reflection. Your two gifts of abundance: learning opportunities and reflection, apply to these quite well. Give yourself many opportunities for practice and equal number to reflect on the effect. Your third gift is patience. Remember you are also deserving of that.
    Thanks for an interesting and thought-provoking post.

  3. “A growth mindset isn’t just about effort … They need this repertoire of approaches—not just sheer effort—to learn and improve.”

    Your post has me thinking about how growth mindset is perceived at the elementary level. At the elementary level I see the mantra of effort connected to the idea of growth mindset almost all of the time. Rarely is there any discussion beyond the promotion of making mistakes and trying harder. Not to say that this isn’t helpful, but Dweck even says that’s only one part of having a growth mindset. I like your idea of looking at the gifts of abundance: learning opportunities and reflection. I’ve had success with these strategies in my own classroom.

    “One final gift of abundance is continuous self-reflection. We put students on a treadmill and never give them time to step off and check their heart rate. How can they take ownership of their learning when we don’t give them time to reflect on the learning process?”

    I don’t think this happens enough. There’s not one way to incorporate “growth mindset” strategies in your classroom. I’m also conflicted with this idea. I know that student reflection is powerful and even more so when they take action steps based on that reflection.

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