Connecting and Communicating Ideas
How can you help your learner develop a growth mindset?
Dweck’s (2016) study and publishings on the growth vs. the fixed mindset are for everyone, not just our learners. The key to helping learners develop a growth mindset is to first incorporate the mindset in my life. To encourage my learners I must reward the process, model “grit”, encourage falling forward, and understand the knowledge of NOT YET. For the 20th century learners, this will be a complete paradigm shift. Those who were taught that making an A is the only way to be successful are fixed in their mindset. Learners that struggle with good grades often project “failure” through discipline issues or just shut down completely. Learners in the 21st century need to develop a new way of learning with a growth mindset. I need to assist those who struggle by teaching them how to work through the process in order to advance the school system to produce the next generation of learners. Also, I need to offer feedback that will guide them down a pathway of success. Finally, I want my learners and coworkers to partner with me in the learning environment.
How will you model the growth mindset and the message of “Yet” to your learners?
I will model failing forward to my learners. I will admit when I’ve made a mistake and show them how to work through the process to find the best answer. I will model my mistakes by admitting that I was wrong and that I’m just not there YET. I’ve often asked my learners to help me find the answer or to explain their way of finding the answer to make me a better learner. I will teach in ways that are non-conventional and engage my learners that want to learn.
Consider how the growth mindset can change the acceptance of feedback and student’s attitude toward cheating.
Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed cheating on a weekly basis. Some teachers are so burdened with countless papers to grade that some cheating slips through the cracks. In the past when I’ve caught a learner cheating, I’ve addressed the issue with that learner in private and have even given them a second chance to turn in original work.
Now that I understand that a fixed mindset oftentimes results in cheating, I will now have that private conversation and offer feedback by modeling the NOT YET concept and encourage the process with praise and rewards.
If a learner can feel pride in work accomplished and work through the process without cheating, I will definitely reward and praise each learner. That’s why it is imperative that we teachers focus on the “why” of the lesson or assignment and ensure that each lesson is authentic, each has a choice, and ownership for our learners. Another way for teachers to change student’s attitudes towards cheating is to ask thought-provoking questions not just look for the right answers.
I believe that I can help educate my students to grow by introducing them to the many Ted talks that are at our fingertips like the following YouTube video.
How can the growth mindset help limit some of your student’s preoccupation with grades? What role does grit play?
Grades will always be important in the public school setting. The struggling learners will feel successful in the process once grades rise. Those learners that NEED to make an A will continue to perform the necessary tasks to maintain an A. But, will our A learners be successful in life after high school? It is equally important to foster the growth mindset in all of our students in order for them to be able to think and grow in the big world of LIFE. I would love to watch my learners succeed because they are proud of the journey and reflect on the growth process and going the extra mile to succeed.
Grit and perseverance should be taught at home. If it isn’t, then the task of teaching grit falls on society. Since I have a teacher’s heart, I feel a strong responsibility to model grit, determination, and perseverance. I strive to model those behaviors to my learners on a daily basis. Through casual conversations that may only last 30 seconds, I offer advice to my learners about life and learning lessons the hard way then offer suggestions on how to persevere and grow. Along with grit, my learners need to learn how life works. We grow and learn through mistakes and conflict. In today’s society, we are faced with so many easy fixes that we become complacent and lazy. Again, I sometimes forget how many learners are watching my every move. I need to remember to always praise the process, fail forward, dig in deep, and model how to handle the most difficult of situations.
How can we prevent the growth mindset from becoming a fad or being improperly implemented? Consider how grit can be misused?
Time will tell if the growth mindset is a fad or being improperly implemented. Submerse yourself in crucial conversations and ask meaningful questions. Accept constructive criticism and avoid getting caught up in conversations that will hinder the growth mindset. Dwek’s Ted talks are a great way to share this mindset with coworkers and learners. Share the videos with our community and leaders to spread the shift in thinking. Finally, model the growth mindset at home, at work, and in public.
Rigor and grit can be misused in some circumstances. They can both have negative connotations if abused and used to stop an innovative idea. Educators should create crucial conversations to redirect negative responses. Just like gossip, don’t perpetuate negative ideas, know who your audience is. We should encourage our learners to stay focused, stay positive, research and learn the motivation behind negative people. Offer praise and ownership when the growth mindset is actively working with our learners. Grit has definitely been my mantra since my ankle surgery. I think my learners and coworkers see my perseverance daily. Hopefully, I’ve modeled the growth mindset, grit, rigor, and crucial conversations to my learners and coworkers. I look forward to remaining a life-long learner.
My learning philosophy has changed throughout my teaching career. As I think back to my high school days, I have fond memories of school. I enjoyed learning, but I’m sure that I enjoyed the social arena quite equally. The best example that comes to mind for my learning philosophy is the dissection of a frog in Biology. Based on my memory, Mr. Orphy introduced the lesson with a reel-to-reel video, followed by a vocabulary list that was listed on the board, next we read the chapter and answered the questions before we could actually get our hands on the frogs in the lab. Finally, our assessment was walking around the classroom and identifying the dissected parts of a frog. This type of learning is in my wheelhouse. I need to see an example, learn the terminology, read information, ask and answer questions, then actually “do” the hands-on work myself. I rarely enjoyed group work in high school because I felt like I was always the one that had to finish the project. But, I truly enjoyed the group work of dissecting a frog in Biology.
Before I explain more about my learning philosophy which I believe to be a Constructivist approach, I need to divulge a little background knowledge. My best friend from high school, Lori, was an extremely gifted student. She was so gifted that she was allowed to skip the eighth grade. I graduated one year before she did, but we were in college at the same time. We were both going to be teachers and had many of the same classes at McNeese. I attended every single class, took massive notes, read every chapter, studied for hours, stressed over tests while Lori could literally miss one class per week, look over my notes the night before the test, and make a better grade on the test than me. She did that in every single class that we took together. By our senior year, she didn’t attend half of the classes and still made a higher grade than me. But, she has a great memory, she can follow directions easily if she hears something once, she can remember it, if she reads something once, she can remember it. Plus, she knows how to apply all of her knowledge and figure things out on her own. Needless to say, she was a fantastic high school English teacher.
Although our different learning styles frustrated me throughout college, it also opened my eyes early on in my career to differentiated learning. Students learn in different ways, with different skill sets, and with varied prior knowledge. But, I feel that we must capture a student’s heart, help them discover the “why” behind learning, ignite a fire for learning, and involve them in learning for fun. My innovation plan and innovation plan outline need to be modified as I’m learning new approaches and new ways of thinking and teaching.
Constructivist Theory (Jerome Bruner)
A major theme in the theoretical framework of Bruner is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. The learner selects and transforms information, constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions, relying on a cognitive structure to do so. Cognitive structure (i.e., schema, mental models) provides meaning and organization to experiences and allows the individual to “go beyond the information given”.
A Constructivist learning philosophy influences my innovation plan because I have to be able to assess each student, personalize each lesson to meet the student’s needs, and differentiate my assessments to ensure that all of my students are understanding the why and will be able to apply new knowledge to real-life situations. My role as a change agent is to model the learning environment on my campus. Change isn’t easy, but if I can influence a few teachers by demonstrating the success and joy in the student’s learning, I think I can be effective. My other goal in my innovation plan is to enhance professional development. If I can present a well-developed lesson and present it with passion during professional development, I believe I can get at least ten percent of my colleagues to try blended learning.
Throughout my plan, I need to remember what information the students actually seek and want to absorb. Always strive to show the importance and the why of each lesson. Students deserve to know how present learning will impact future learning and performance in life. The big picture counts in every lesson, every assessment, and every conversation with students and teachers. I learn by seeing, reading, discussions, and doing. Making learning real, engaging, and fun will challenge my teaching style. I wish I had more energy to devote to each and every student. I wish I had pursued these graduate courses earlier in life, just imagine how many lives I could have changed – both with students and teachers.
How does a focus on learning and creating significant learning environments impact or influence your innovation plan?
My focus on learning and creating a significant learning environment for my learners will enhance my innovation plan and continue to expand my knowledge of the process of change and growth. By exposing my learners to new information that I’ve learned in my graduate studies, I believe that my findings will better equip my learners with tools to become more successful learners, employees, innovators, thinkers, and life-long learners. I truly want all of my learners to be able to benefit from the blended learning model whether they are going to continue their education after high school or go directly into the workforce. Again, finding the WHY, learning how to fail forward, embracing the NOT YET mindset, finding true grit, and being actively engaged in a personalized learning will help pave the way for my learners to have fun and flourish in learning and in life.
Fink, L. D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
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