Growth Mindset versus Fixed Mindset Classrooms

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Obadiah, Apr 27, 2016.

  1. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    I have questions for anyone teaching elementary students in a growth mindset classroom. Recently, I've been researching Boaler, Kohn, and Abeles, and plan to continue this research. Specifically, I'm wondering if the classrooms are as utopian as described; not that I'm doubting--most of what I've read correlates with my own philosophies of education. Also, have you encountered negative reactions from parents, the local community, or the media? For teachers new to Boaler's research, the book I recently read is Boaler, Jo. Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students’ Potential through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2016
     
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  3. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I have not read the book, but it looks like standard Cognitevly Guided Instruction imo. If it is, then yes you will have negative reasctions from parents and teachers. Most parents, students, local community, media, and even many teachers link learning to getting answers.

    I am going to put this out there....is there really anything good about reading growth mindset by Dweck? Growth mindset has become the "trend" and I personally find it shallow and obvious. I really do not see many techniques to use in the classroom beyond what I think most teachers already knew and did intrinsically.
     
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  4. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    My thoughts exactly. I feel largely someone slapped a label on what happens naturally in most classrooms. Who doesn't normally do the things as a matter of course labeled
    'growth mindset."?
     
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  5. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    A lot of people don't actively use methods that encourage the growth mindset. They may do it sometimes, but they fail to look at what else they do that actively contradicts the growth mindset. Anytime a grade is mentioned it contradicts the growth mindset model because the focus is on an arbitrary number rather than what is learned when often what is MEANT by the teacher is the learning, not the grade. However, the lose use of language ends up sending the wrong message which is it is the grade that counts. 'A' means you learned whether that is true or not. It ignores how the A is obtained and what is retained along the way. The focus on the grade also eliminates the thought about what methods were working for the student to retain information and to learn how to process information better in the future. For some things memorization (and retention of the memorized information). For others it is association with other known information.

    While most try to use growth mindset ideas, sometimes it is lost in improper language use and other times it is used along with contradictory methods which further confuses the issue.
     
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  6. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I agree, however I don't think this has much to do with growth mindset, I think this has to do with reflecting on your classroom(everything you do). Constantly checking that your philosophy, words, and actions all match up and support each other.

    This is my opinion anyway, and why I have made 2 threads about big ideas and classroom questions. I am trying to reflect, realign, and ax things that don't fit.
     
  7. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I do not believe that this is something that is done well across the board. Many say they reflect but what they do is find ways to justify what they are doing rather than consider that what they may be doing can inadvertently be part of the problem.

    None of this is directed at you.
     
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  8. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I agree and would add that at times I am guilty of this.
    Reminds me of the quote..."when someone appears to be thinking, they are often just rearranging their predjudices"
     
  9. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    These were some of my thoughts, too. Many of the growth mindset procedures have been around for awhile and practiced in one form or another, but schools have restrictions as to how far a teacher can apply such procedures. I've always taught at schools that emphasized grades, and my previous school went as far as to send home a weekly report card. Looking specifically at math, in most situations, I've been restricted to follow a basal text; if the students didn't do each page or most pages, it would appear that I was wasting the school's money or parents' tuition money for expensive workbooks. The day would usually be scheduled to zip through each subject. There was little time to concentrate on correcting errors; I made time, but I felt the students were rushed and it usually consisted of individualized corrections. Some math books broke arithmetic down into individualized fill in the blank answers. Squeezing in conceptual learning was always difficult. Workbooks always included story problems, but they were mathematically trite: look for clue words and make the numbers look like the algorithms at the top of the page. I supplemented with open ended problems whenever possible, but never felt like I was doing enough. I've actually been criticized by other teachers for using base ten blocks in third grade! And time rarely allowed for effective use of inquiry lessons with base ten blocks. At one school, I was required to group math students homogenously so that some students were receiving advanced work in math and reading; this further restricted the time for effective teaching of all the students. Research indicates that advancing students decreases the completeness of their learning. In reading Boaler s book, I've been thinking, this would be my dream classroom!
     
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  10. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Yeah, Obadiah, bad teaching is bad teaching. A bad classroom teacher does not make a good administrator with regards to teaching practices.
     
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  11. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Obadiah, I would have gone nuts in a classroom such as you described. I was in a private school with small classes. Never used a math text. Didn't even use the reading text much. Had my own library. Played games in several subjects daily and created all my own lessons without needing to mesh with anyone else's schedule. It was kind of a dream come true.
     
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  12. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I'm forced to use a math book at my current position. I love the people I work with, but it's going to be wonderful to go to a workshop model school. The count down is on.....
     
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  13. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I'm very familiar with this and have even given a workshop at my school on growth mindset. I don't think growth mindset is as obvious and well practiced as we might like to think it is. Sure, I think we are very quick to assume we believe in this and follow it, but I think if we look at how we face challenges in our own lives, and the learning challenges of our students, we might discover something very different. Research now shows us that when we learn something new, or when we struggle through something, new synapses are being formed in the brain. This is relatively new information that we did not know about the brain before. As such, this tells us that mistakes and errors, and thinking through those errors and mistakes especially, are where the most "brain growing" occurs. This type of brain growth does not occur when we know something, or get something correct the first time. The implication here is that we want to have a certain degree of struggle because this will effect new brain connections. However, what is the reality of what typically happens in a classroom? The child who knows all the answers is often celebrated, even turned to, and we adore that child. They make our lives as teachers easier. Conversely, the child who struggles and never seems to quite understand is the one we often begin to feel frustrated with. We don't readily see those challenges as the real learning opportunities that they are. However, when we approach those challenges with a growth mindset, all of sudden our frustration with the student is lowered. We see and appreciate the amazing learning that is happening. We embrace the challenge, we embrace the struggle. Additionally, when we set up a classroom to be one of a growth mindset, we explicitly teach students that mistakes are wonderful, that challenges do not mean defeat but that they are on the road to success. Students then are not so quick to shy away from difficult work or difficult problems, but instead face it head on. I have set up my classroom to be one that embraces this kind of thinking and students now will even announce their mistakes as they make them. It's helped to eliminate some of their fears about making mistakes, and I have personally seen this in my class since establishing this type of environment for the last 2-3 years.
     
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  14. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Sorry Tami, while I agree with everything you said, I think this was brutally obvious to most people imo. While I agree it is making more explicit, I think anyone who has played sports, a hobby, researched anything..etc, has witnesses exactly what you described simply through the process.

    I love the growth mindset, I review my class language and procedures to make sure it is supported in everything I do, I am just saying that it is nothing new. I am yet to read or see anything directly from Dweck's book that has made me want to buy and read it.

    I think Upsadaisy said in another thread, "show me a new teaching strategy", this is one where I would agree with Upsadaisy, while the name may be new, I think many many teachers have supported a growth mindset with their students since the beginning.
     
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  15. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I certainly respect your opinion, but I disagree. I think we all think we have supported this, however I don't think we actually have. The biggest part of the growth mindset is making it known to the learners the plasticity of the brain and its growth potential. How often have we fallen into the trap of "good" and "bad" math persons? Or those who are athletic and those who are not? Those with an artistic gift, and those without? We file ourselves away into categories, and, if we are being honest, we have a tendency to do this with our students as well. Realizing the importance of mistakes and just how important those mistakes are for growth is huge. It's the knowledge alone that makes a difference, so spreading this message becomes imperative. As an educator, when we truly follow a growth mindset it allows us to think outside of the box to help our students be successful. It requires us believing that success is possible, as challenging as it appears and as much as the student might be struggling. We then look for alternate ways to make understanding accessible to our students. Unfortunately, I think the growth mindset is being hugely misunderstood and/or misused. It's not meant to be "oh, we all make mistakes...you'll get it eventually". Instead, it's the reflective part of "where did I go wrong?" and working hard to understand those errors and mistakes to effect deep learning. As an educator, that also means guiding students through that process.
     
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  16. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Wow, maybe its just me then.

    I agree with most everything you wrote. I just disagree that this is new, I think most people who have participated in sports, hobbies, played video games...etc. Have all actively participated in exploring and learning from their mistakes. Watching others do something you thought one couldn't do and then pushing yourself to match them...and succeeding.Looking for points of weaknesses and questioning them...etc. I have never believed in good or bad "insert anything", all my life experiences have led to the understanding of the growth mindset.

    Growth mindset has pervaded our world forever, just read quotes, movies, biographies, stories...etc. Now maybe self esteem, self confidence, or work ethic is where we differ?

    What 3 things have you changed since reading Mindset?
    You didn't believe that student's believing in themselves was paramount?
    You didn't see the value in analyzing, focusing, exploring points of difficulty?
    That learning takes place over time and after many failures?
     
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  17. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    If by this quote you mean we as teachers are not reflecting, checking, matching what we say we do with what we actually do....I 100% agree, but this has nothing to do with growth mindset as it applies to all aspects of teaching.
     
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  18. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Three things I have changed since discovering growth mindset:

    1) My language in the classroom. I no longer say things like, "Oh, you're such a good artist!" Or, "You are really good at math." I instead say things like, "You really made that illustration come to life with all the details!", and "When your problem got hard, you worked even harder!". In other words, I try to name specifically what the student has done instead of using ambiguous language.

    2) I specifically build a culture of embracing mistakes in the classroom. There is no shame in getting the wrong answer or making a mistake. I specifically talk to my kids about how these are learning and growth opportunities.

    3) I utilize more student reflections and checklists to help students identify for themselves their own specific needs of growth (they are age 6, so this is no small thing). From that they set goals and actively work on those goals (one might say, "but that's just good practice" and, yes it is...but the growth mindset led me to seek additional ways to intentionally make them reflective of their own learning, and work to grow their weak areas).

    4) Last year was my first year as grade-level leader. I was terrified. I was worried I wasn't leader material. My very strong belief in growth mindset has helped me through that. I reassured myself that maybe I wasn't the perfect leader right then, but that I could grow and develop as a GLL. Again, one might say that's just common sense...But how many of us are paralized by the potential of making mistakes? By possibly appearing inadequate? While I have made mistakes along my journey of GLL, I have taken each of them as opportunities to improve, instead of beat myself up of over it.

    I realize that you might not believe that Growth Mindset is powerful, and I respect that. But, since the OP was interested to hear the opinions of those familiar with Growth Mindset, I shared my own experience of it. For many, maybe it is obvious and perhaps has had no impact on their teaching, or in their personal lives. For me, it has made a huge impact.
     
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  19. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Fair enough, most of it was obvious to me.
     
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  20. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Wow! These discussions are really causing me to think and reflect. I find agreement with both TamiJ and Pashtun. I agree that many teachers had already embraced growth mindset ideas in part or in whole, but, as TamiJ mentioned, the verification has come recently from brain imaging.

    In my experiences, however, I've seen just the opposite of growth mindset teaching. More and more there has been an emphasis on grades. Most of the time, there has been an emphasis on keeping pace with the lessons, and if students fall behind, they'll get it next year. I've heard 3 different principals tell parents that their child is not intelligent enough to achieve in school, based upon the Otis-Lennon test during the Stanford tests and/or the principal's own opinion. On that same thought, the Stanford test results sent home to parents, results that even some teachers don't understand how to interpret, indicate a student's supposed ability to achieve certain outcomes. The latest fad I've encountered is for elementary teachers to supply parents with a study guide for all tests, which basically are the answers to the test questions. Teachers then reword their questions or change the order of the questions, but the result is still that as long as the student memorizes the list of answers, the student passes the test and is perceived as learning the material. For whatever reason, students (elementary students!) are encouraged to study this list of answers the night before the test, (i.e. cram). Research indicates, however, if a student doesn't know the material the night before the test, s/he still doesn't know the material, even after achieving an A+, with the exception of a few concepts or facts that might have incidentally been put into permanent memory. Another fad is the increase in homework, especially for high school students.
     
  21. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Why do you think this is? Do you believe they do not know about the idea of growth mindset? I see examples of people ignoring science, tried and true methods in all fields all the time.
     

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