Mindset Revisited 
 Last spring, Twin Valley School District conducted a district wide survey with students, teachers and parents to learn more about the climate, culture and student engagement in the district. We worked with an independent company who administered the survey and reported the results. One of the interesting findings in the survey was that a students’ perception of their ability to learn, affects how they approach learning something hard or difficult. 
The survey findings reminded me of the work of Carol Dweck, the Stanford University Professor, whose book, “Mindset – The New Psychology of Success” has changed the way we look at student success and achievement in schools. A few years ago, we used “Mindset” for an administrative book study to better understand why some of our students were motivated to learn, while others were not. As Dweck puts it, for many kids the ability to learn challenging material depends on whether or not they feel positive in their knowledge about that particular subject. For example, a student who has struggled with math may not even attempt a difficult math problem. Whereas, a student secure in their math ability, will easily accept the challenge of more difficult problems.

Dweck’s model identifies two mindsets that students have about their abilities. The first is a fixed mindset or the belief that intelligence is fixed, and cannot be changed. When students have a fixed mindset, they tend to give up easily when they encounter obstacles, because they believe that they don’t have what it takes to learn difficult things. The second is a growth mindset or the belief that abilities can be developed through effort and practice. Students with a growth mindset persist in the face of challenges because they understand that effort and hard work can change ability and intelligence. It is the growth mindset that we want to cultivate in our students as learners. One of our goals this year as a district is to implement strategies to develop a growth mindset in our students. As educators, we can work on this during the school day, but as parents you can also influence your childrens’ growth mindset. 
So what can you do to nuture a growth mindset in your children? First, praise the process not the product and acknowledge the work that goes in along the way rather than only the finished outcome. For instance, when your child brings home a good grade on a math test talk to them about the hard work and practice they did rather than simply applauding the good grade. Another way is to be specific in your praise rather than great job or you are so smart is to be specific about how they accomplished the task. You could say for example “great job you tried that math problem three times until you got it right.” So you are praising the work and effort that went into it and you are being specific. Finally, parents should share their own stories of hardwork and struggle when learning something new. Tell your children about the time and effort you had to put into your schooling and your work life. These stories go a long way in demonstrating the positive effects of a growth mindset.  
Educators and parents should work together to develop a growth mindset in today’s children so they can accomplish their goals. It’s logical to assume that if we can change a student’s perception of themselves as a learner, we can boost their motivation and achievement.  And teachers, parents and students will share in their success.  
Posted by KHARPLE On December 07, 2017 at 10:24 AM