Since I first understood the impact that having a Growth Mindset could have on my life, I knew it was the “Golden thread to learning” and I had to pass this on to the students that I was teaching. Why? because in every class I taught, I recognised Fixed Mindsets staring back at me. I knew that this was the epidemic of the modern education system. However, being the only person who was aware of this Mindset, it was going to be struggle…..
The Early Days
Well it was just me….I was Head of Year 11 and needed content for my assemblies. Two a week is a lot of content. So my year group were bombarded with anecdotal stories of people who’s road to success was based on practice and hard work and their rise was not down to to a term I banned, “talent”. I said it didn’t exist – I was extreme – My views have eased a little since then but, I still believe it is significantly over-rated. So, my Y11’s were asked to adopt a Growth Mindset and I started to notice an improvement. Lots of comments were coming from teachers stating how well the Y11 cohort were working in lessons. Some were even doing their homework! It was no surprise to me that the year group’s results were excellent. 13% higher than that of the previous year! Of course, there are many contributing factors for a cohorts’ pass rate, but I believe Growth Mindset was a marginal gain for those students.
It was at this time that a few members of staff also became aware of Growth Mindset and suggested that I should put on a twilight inset session for staff. It was optional to attend and I had 5 or 6 turn up. In the session I basically tried to explain what Growth Mindset was and the impact that it can have on the the students that we teach. Many staff started using the “yet” and began to notice differences in the students they were teaching. They also noticed that they were approaching skills differently.
I was asked to put another session on and about 15 turn up. Word was getting out! Feedback was very positive.
Up to the Present Day
The crucial step in ensuring that Growth Mindset can be embedded in the school is setting up steering group. Our group was set up by those who became interested in Growth Mindset and went away and started to read the books.
I have written a comprehensive Growth Mindset Reading blog post. Click here to go to it.
The Groups objective was as the title of this blog post suggests – How do we embed Growth Mindset into the School Culture? We subdivided into the following groups:
- What is Growth Mindset
- Teaching and Learning
What is Growth Mindset : This was the area I have looked at. The aim is to get the message out there to staff, students and parents. I have done this via:
- Extra twilight sessions for staff : Here, I have focused on getting across the message of what Growth Mindset is and how it can be used in the classroom. The early sessions very much focused on the language used by teachers to ensure that students became persistent in their classroom. Recently, I collaborated with @ who brought the added dimension of meta-cognition to the area. The students became more aware about their own learning and understood the effort that is required to produce successful work.
- Assemblies: Many assemblies have a Growth Mindset feel about them. Every student attended assemblies entirely devoted to Growth Mindset. The underpinning theme has been:
- Talent is Overrated Looking at Ed Sheeran
- Brain Plasticity – Looking at Susan Polgar, Chess Champion
- Success is a Choice – Stephan Curry – Basketball player
- The finishing point is “Intelligence is a malleable quality, a potential that can be developed”
- Parent Workshops: We have run a couple of of Workshops. They concentrate on the a lot of the work that we do with the students in assemblies. In truth its been a which have been a mixed bag. The feedback that we have had outstanding. Quotes such“why isn’t every parent being told this?” “It has changed the way I speak to my son..” The only issue that we have had is the number of parents attending the workshops. We are looking at ways to improve our communications and will hopefully see a rise in participation in coming months.
The Reporting System: This group includes an SLT member and science teacher are looking at how to ensure that Growth Mindset is reflected in the reporting system. Do you report grades to parents or do you just say whether they are are track to reach potential and; whether or not they are applying themselves to their lesson?This is by far the most contentious point and one that we are taking most time over.
Teaching and Learning: We have tried give teachers the ammunition to deliver Growth Mindset in their lessons. On lesson planning documentation there are useful phrases and terms that can be used. In lesson observations, observers have been asked to state whether a sense of Growth Mindset is evident in lessons? Feedback to date has shown that more teachers are trying to use Growth Mindset in their lessons.
Pastoral Group: The Heads of Year are looking at whether having a Fixed mindset contributes to poor behaviour, attendance and lack of concentration in the class. There is always a case for saying that all poor performance is a result of a Fixed Mindset. Our Heads of Year are looking at whether failure is down to “Can’t or Won’t”– see the diagram below:
Sharing Good practice: Due to the work that we doing, we are seeing more schools turn to us and ask advice. We have put on sessions and again the feedback has been extremely positive.
The future of Growth Mindset in school is a precarious one. Like many initiatives in school it could just run its course and never been seen again. By embedding it in the school culture ensures it continues after our time. We are lucky in the fact we have a member of staff who brings everything together. You need a member of staff like this in your steering group.
I look forward to keeping you up to date..