Growth mindset part two. #hackyrclass

What!!! two posts in one week.

I was reading a blog by @chasingalyx and it got me thinking about the language we use and it’s impact on developing or smashing a growth mindset. This is some stuff I learned from Art Costa – my guru on Habits of Mind / Key competencies and I like the idea of recording it for my records as it were.

So, the context is how we as teachers use questions to promote thinking and also students perceptions of themselves as thinkers (their mindset). I used to do this badly, then I learned a few things and also had the opportunity to see a very experienced teacher also do it badly. I watched this teacher start a class with a bit of a brainstorm, ask the class a thinking type question – 20 hands went up with ideas. She called on a student and then responded with something like “great thinking” 10 hands went down. She called on another student for their idea, responded with “excellent idea” suddenly there were no more hands up wanting to share their ideas. What I think Art Costa would say just happened was that every time she placed a value on someone’s thinking, the rest of the room measured their idea against the word Great or Excellent and if they were unsure if there idea was “excellent”, the hand went down and it was no longer safe to share their thinking. Growth mindset smashed. Repeat this on a daily basis and soon you have a hierarchy of mindsets within your class.

So, what might you do differently? When asking your class to share their thinking, the teacher reply, regardless of the idea is “thanks for your thinking”. I have tried this many times and if you start with 20 hands up, you continue to have 20 hands up until you have more ideas than you can handle. Then is the time to be critical of the thinking – ranking, justifying the most relevant ideas etc.

Some other ideas (also from Art) for questioning for a growth mindset are:

  • use a positive presupposition – “as you reflect upon……” “as you think about……” – this subconsciously gets them doing it.
  • use open questions with multiple answers
  • use tentative language. instead of “what is…, what are…” try “how might….. what might be…… How could……

Put it all together and you get something like:

As you reflect upon your own teaching practice, in what aspects might you consider changing things to further promote the growth mindset of your students?

A bit wordy but I think the ideas are good.

Please feel free to add your ideas or thinking below.


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