Growth Mindset Musings


What if Professor Carol Dweck hadn’t written “Mindset”? An obvious answer might be that we would have one less motivational tool to enable children and students to visualise a way to try to succeed through extra effort.

Now may be a timely reminder that – in spite of David Didau’s scathing comments about Growth Mindset and despite my initial scepticism – reflecting on effort, improvement and achievement does prove useful.

Therefore, my blog looks back to a Growth Mindset year 9 assembly in school that was – coincidentally or intentionally – reiterated in more detail at our Thursday 28th September Growth Mindset GPS morning session at Notley. At a time when I’m struggling to persevere and implement some control, it’s pertinent for me to reflect on what happened immediately after the sessions.

My self-reflection feedback form notes as follows: –

“I’d read about Growth Mindset theory, watched the You Tube video and read David Didau’s responses but I didn’t have the implementation tools to incorporate (the concept) into lessons. I’ve begun thinking about PP and GAT assumptions and EAL achievements. I’d like to develop challenging students’, teachers’, parents’ and teaching assistants’ assumptions on what can be achieved by all using some aspects of this theory.”

My target for myself reads: –

“Focus on praise for effort; incorporate into marking and lesson planning. If brave enough, ask for honest feedback from students; continually focus on perseverance and improvement for myself and pupils.”

As a response to being offered an opportunity to create a board for the upcoming open evening, I looked at the “additional job” as a chance to visibly be part of the team; I did the extra work and then realised I’d made a slight error and self-corrected it. I was working late, after hours, to get the board finished before a school open evening. The Headmaster walked past and positively commented thereby recognising my efforts. As a “student” that comment from him was all the recognition I could have hoped for (thankfully, he didn’t notice the error). I had achieved another “baby-step” but overcame the challenges of time and somehow got it done! It was a prime example of how Growth Mindset can help everyone.

It’s satisfying – now and again – to see a student looking at the boards. I hope it helps them consider that they can improve their skills through hard work; that challenges can be embraced and be seen as an opportunity to become stronger and more persistent; that effort can lead to mastering a subject; that criticism can lead to learning; that setbacks can be seen as a call to work harder next time.

My only addendum to the reflection would be a cautionary one: – students who may be lacking in confidence may take time to adjust to the challenges in changing thinking and behavioural patterns so…… Use encouragement and make time to allow a little time for a lifetime’s development!

Francesca Ballerini

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