Heathdale flower 21st July 2022

Encouraging a Growth Mindset

Our mindsets shape how we learn. How can we help young students to have a mindset that encourages growth? Carol Dweck, an expert in this area, gives us some insight.

Heathdale flower

Welcome to Term 3! Term 3 is one of my favourites because you can really dig into the learning. I am hoping by now all parents will have received their new look report. We have had some really positive feedback on the reports, and I know there were some great discussions at Parent Teacher Conversations. Please, if you have any further feedback do email the Primary Admin Office so we can take this on board as much as possible.

As you are aware, as teachers, we spent the last week of school holidays in professional learning. It was a wonderful week where we all learnt so much; it also made me think about how tired our children get by learning for 8 hours a day! One of the days we had was based on visible learning, and the concept of feedback was discussed. I thought some of it would be useful to share with you as parents. One of the gurus in this space is Carol Dweck, who has written books on growth mindset. Below is an excerpt from her that could be useful as we all work though the learnings from Semester 1 and use these to boost our learning in Semester 2.

I highly recommend watching the following video and read the excerpt from Carol Dweck. I hope it gives you some extra language to encourage your child if they are ever frustrated with their learning at home.

“Students’ mindsets — how they perceive their abilities — play a key role in their motivation and achievement, and we found that if we changed students’ mindsets, we could boost their achievement. More precisely, students who believed their intelligence could be developed (a growth mindset) outperformed those who believed their intelligence was fixed (a fixed mindset). And when students learned through a structured program that they could “grow their brains” and increase their intellectual abilities, they did better. Finally, we found that having children focus on the process that leads to learning (like hard work or trying new strategies) could foster a growth mindset and its benefits.

As we’ve watched the growth mindset become more popular, we’ve become much wiser about how to implement it. This learning — the common pitfalls, the misunderstandings, and what to do about them — is what I’d like to share with you, so that we can maximize the benefits for our students.

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.

We also need to remember that effort is a means to an end to the goal of learning and improving. Too often nowadays, praise is given to students who are putting forth effort, but not learning, in order to make them feel good in the moment: “Great effort! You tried your best!” It’s good that the students tried, but it’s not good that they’re not learning. The growth-mindset approach helps children feel good in the short and long terms, by helping them thrive on challenges and setbacks on their way to learning. When they’re stuck, teachers can appreciate their work so far, but add: “Let’s talk about what you’ve tried, and what you can try next.”