Thursday, July 29, 2010

Voice Thread with Mindset

Today I am posting a Voice Thread with a discussion about and review of Mindset. It's my first Voice Thread, but this is a Web 2.0 program that I am very excited about. 

For an interactive discussion about Mindsets and their effect on education/classrooms, Click on the voice thread and join in!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Can Change Happen in Your School?

Educators work very hard.  We do our very best every day using the knowledge we have to ensure students are learning.  The trouble is - our work is quite difficult and as of yet, we have not been effective in servicing ALL students.

A study in Germany by Falko Rheinberg found that when educators are growth minded, their students progress and when the educators have a fixed mindset, the students who entered the class underachieving, left as under acheivers (2000).  The fact is that we have an enormous influence on our students and their achievement. The question is, how do we move all educators to use the influence they have towards greater student learning? 

Chip Heath and Dan Heath, authors of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard contend that if you want change to happen, "somebody, somewhere has to start acting differently." Since Growth-Minded educators are used to growing, changing, taking risks and learning, it is our responsibility to lead our colleagues in acting differently.  The book lays out a pathway for leaders to facilitate changed behavior, even with limited resources and support.

The book is a treasure for it's simplicity, readability, and usefulness.  Their recipe for change could not be more growth-minded.  They explain that all humans have a rational brain (a small rider) which is logical.  At the same time we have an emotional brain (a large elephant) which gets whatever it wants and gets spooked easily.  Finally, they explain that the path a person is on affects his/her behavior.  Change the path and the behavior is likely to change.

Any effective leader knows that the only way to lead large groups is to nurture the leadership abilities of your colleagues.  In order to do that, you have to be willing to "grow your own" and develop the hard-working and caring people who surround you, rather than wasting time, energy and resources mining for "talent."  Use Switch to figure out how to mine for talent in your own backyard by mentoring and developing your people so that they begin to act differently.

happy reading...

The Growth Mindset in Educators

Today I want to ask if you believe in your colleagues. It's easy to read Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck and decide that YOU can grow and change and learn, but do you also apply that to others? It is also easy to realize that children can grow and change and learn, but do you believe that of the adults with which you work?

There are so many qualities that make great leaders, but an important quality of a great leader and coach is a belief in all people to grow. As the educators around me have taken Dr. Dweck's research to heart and used it for their personal growth, I have noticed a small group of people who really only apply it to themselves. To be truly growth-minded, we have to apply the growth mindset even to those we believe in the least. Maybe ESPECIALLY to those who we believe in the least. Otherwise, what's it all for? It's just a way to define the better people from the "fixed" ones. That is the exact opposite of what Dweck's work is about.

If we approach everyone from the growth mindset - that all can learn, improve with practice and effort, and grow capacity, then our organizations will grow. Behavior is contagious. Approach someone who doesn't normally produce as if s/he IS a producer, and s/he will likely surprise you. Make it cool to achieve. Celebrate the successes of those who have tried (even if they failed at some part of their project). If people fail to achieve, there is likely a reason. Find the reason and see if you can't clear their path for them.

I am a runner. A jogger really, but without the coaching of good friends who tell me I can run faster and better, with effort, I would still be a walker who runs a bit in between. My colleagues easily coax and encourage me to run faster and longer and more often. They hold me accountable to my runs and ask about my miles. When I fail, they tell me it's OK and ask what I learned. They give me tips and encourage me to go on. Then they follow up with me a week later.

What a great model for educators. Isn't a school year so much like a marathon anyway?

Cheers all and encourage your co-workers. Believe in them the way you want others to believe in you.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Growth Mindset in Standardized Testing Preparation

Students and teachers alike get very agitated about these tests. It is rare that anyone looks forward to them serenely and says, "bring me the test please so I can show my learning!'

Can Mindset encourage us to bring calm and confidence to standardized testing?

Of course! A growth-minded educator knows there is nothing Mindset CAN'T do!
Instead of that traditional test prep talk that goes on all over the country in the spring before testing, we could talk with students about Mindset. If a person sees learning as a process of growing one's intelligence, then an achievement test would not feel like a judgment. If a person sees his or her brain as fixed in its intelligence, then the test feels like a measure of their brain power. Growth-minded people know that the test only measures the information that made it into their long-term memory based on their effort and nutrition and sleep. They would never think that a missed answer defined them. It would be feedback about what to learn better NOW.

If we can teach kids that assessments are feedback - not a label, we would all be better off. Then, as educators WE could treat tests as feedback - not a label. If we changed our thinking in this way, how could we continue to be so attached to hard-and-fast due dates and grade killer assignments "worth 20% of your grade" ? Performance in classes would go up because students would DO more work and make the kinds of changes to assignments that deepen learning. With that deeper learning, the state tests would also raise.

Brainology (by Mindset Works) teaches students about the nutrition and healthy habits that grow a strong brain. At the same time, it teaches about how the brain grows and how our neurons become strengthened. As "test prep" all students could get a lesson about how their daily nutrition and sleep habits contribute to 1. their learning, and 2. their specific performance on test day.

The other essential thing Brainology (for students) covers that Mindset (for adults) doesn't, is emotions and learning. Brainology teaches that one must stay calm in the face of stress. If one does not, then the adrenaline that produces anxiety is released into the blood stream and performance is seriously stifled. At that point, the individual must do something to de-stress. Brainology teaches those strategies:

Then tying this knowledge about nutrition, sleep, stress, and the brain to ALL performances (band, football, speech and debate), we empower our students to excell in any endeavor they choose to take on. They grow a growth mindset!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Positive Self-Talk and Re-framing

The words we say out loud have a lasting effect. Once you say something, you can't take it back - not really. This also goes for the things we say to ourselves. As a teacher, I often wish I could get inside the heads of the students so that I could better know how to reach them and teach them.

I can't - but what I can do is have an effect on what they say to themselves. One way to do this is to teach them how to take the negative and fixed-minded things that they say to themselves (and to others), and show them how to re-frame those statements.

Please take a look at this lesson on re-framing and positive self-talk. It took me 55 minutes with an ELL class in a Sacramento HS.  Reframing Lesson

As always, I appreciate your feedback - comment here, or email me :-)

It was EL, so they read the poem several times (in partners, to themselves, in unison, and then they talked about what it meant. – I had it on the LCD projector.)

Then we did the handout and journal-ed on the questions in the boxes. The share-out from that was powerful.

Lastly I showed them how to re-frame about 4 of them, then they did 4 in partners and four alone (we reviewed after 4 each time). Feel free to use it.

Writing and Reflecting on Mindset

Any journey through examining one's "mindset" would benefit from some writing (in this English's teacher's opinion). After reading Dweck's book, Mindset, I brainstormed some writing prompts to use with a group of students or adults.

I think that with the things Jessica is posting and some things I have, we will soon have a pretty good unit going. Wouldn't it be cool to create a Freshman class unit that was a partner ship with English and Science to learn about the brain, mindsets, neurons, nutrition, and motivation? In ten 30-minute lessons we could really set up our ninth graders for success at their new school.
This summer I would like to find a general science teacher to plan with...any out there?

Here are the journals I was refering to:

Possible PLC work or Classroom work
1. If you were (are chronically) late to class or a job (this week, today) what specific steps can you make to be sure this doesn’t happen again?

2. If you have been trying to be healthier (in eating habits or exercise) what specific steps can you take to get closer to your goal?

3. What is some task that you just have not “gotten to”? Write a specific plan including the day and preceding moments for addressing and completing this task.

4. What is a dream or a new hobby that you would like to undertake/fulfill? Write a plan….

5. Are you living up to your potential? (after journaling is over, ask writers to respond to this question: read over your response. Which mind-set did you respond in?)

6. Is there something in your past that you think measured you? A test score? A dishonest or callous action? being rejected or being fired from a job? Focus on that thing – what was it? Now examine it from a growth perspective. Look honestly at your role in it, but ask, what did I (or can I) learn from that experience? How can I use it as a basis for growth?

7. Are you in a fixed-mindset or a growth-mindset at work/school? Do you feel people are judging you or trying to help you develop? Start with yourself, are there ways you could be less defensive about your mistakes? Could you profit more from the feedback you get? Are there ways you can create more learning experiences for yourself?

8. Are you a fixed mindset or growth mindset coach? What comes first for you as a coach (winning and reputation or the team’s development)? Do you try to motivate with judgment? What would a growth-minded coach do to motivate?

Write about EACH one:
This would be one lesson the first week of school. I would use it to train my students how to "pair up" in my class (I have appointment calendars). I would have them interview a different partner for each question (and answer it too). The 6th question they would write to alone at their desk after those five conversations. (50 minutes)

1. If you could play any instrument, what would it be and why? Why have you never learned to play?
2. If you could be good at any sport what would it be and why? Why have you not learned it up until now?
3. If you could go back and change your college major, what would you change it to? Why?
4. What have you always wanted to learn to do, but never have?
5. What is one new technology that you would add to your life if cost were not an issue?
6. Now, select one of these five things. Can you commit to one of them? How? OR Why not?

Growth-Minded Feedback and Questioning

I have read a stack of articles that must weigh 3 lbs about Carole Dweck's research on mindsets. While I am boundlessly grateful for her work and that of her colleagues, I want more...

What I want more of is, what specifically must happen in a classroom setting that will contribute to growth minded, persistent students. How do we develop students' willingness to "try, try again"? IF students are used to immediate positive adult feedback in an attempt to build self-esteem, can I reverse the fixed mindset that results?

With this question in mind, I brainstormed some comments and pulled some out of Dweck's book (Mindset: the New Psychology of Success).

Please read and comment:

Growth Minded Feedback
We're growing dendrites here!
Of course it's hard - that's why they call it school!
I can tell that you are excited about this topic
Your hard work is clear
I can tell that you didn't give up
Mistakes are part of the process - it's called practice!
Mistakes are welcome here!
I think this is moving into your long term storage
Your persistence paid off!
Let's do one together
Listen to me solve it/answer one out loud
Let’s write a plan for practicing and/or learning.
If you make ______changes, we can re-asses your score. Let’s discuss a plan for you.
Describe your process for completing this task.
Here is what I was thinking when I solved it…”____Think aloud ____” (entire thought process – then give a new question, issue, problem).
Let’s practice (skill) so we can move it from Temporary storage to our long-term memory.
Let’s think about how to improve (the accuracy of) this section/paragraph/sentence/word choice/logic/description/problem.

Growth Minded Questioning
What were you thinking about when you did this part?
Do you think you can do this? because I know you can.
Did you get the 8 hours of sleep last night that your brain needs today for class?
What part of this task is making you anxious?
How can we break this problem/task down into smaller parts?
During my "think aloud" what mistakes did I make and what did I learn?
What can you do to move this to your long term storage?
What did we learn today that feels more permanent in your brain?
What made you come to this conclusion?
What evidence supports that?
When does it start to become confusing?
How does it feel to get that answer?
How can your partner/team help you solve this?/answer that?/reason it out?
What can be some strategies to figure this out?
What additional information would help?
What question(s) do you have?
Is my explanation helping, or should I try something new?