The Road to Growing Mindsets
In the two year education program at the University of Ottawa, we learn about many different topics; inclusive classrooms, lesson planning, assessments and more. However something that is promoted more so than anything else is growth mindset. This is even promoted in the schools- every school and every teacher that I have come across in Ottawa is somehow promoting growth mindset in their classrooms. The other amazing part of this is that students have slowly begun to develop this mindset, and that is, as we all know, not easy. I’ve blogged about growth mindset before, but recently I’ve come across something alarming.
I moved back home, and noticed that many of the classes and students I have been working with do not know what growth mindset is. As there is only 16 days left of school, I have made it my personal mission to reach as many students as I can before the end of the year; I want to enforce growth mindset wherever I can.
Day 1: Grade 3’s and 4’s
As we corrected math homework, I could see the frustration in students when getting the wrong answer. I stopped the corrections and asked, ‘Who knows what growth mindset is’?
“What’s that?” One student asked from the back of the room.
I responded with a question. “Why is it a good thing to make a mistake?”
More blank stares.
“When we make a mistake, our brains are actually growing and lighting up like a Christmas tree. When we make a mistake, we are actually learning something new.
Suddenly, I could see smiles around the room.
“When we make a mistake, it’s not a bad thing. It’s just a way of showing us what we need to do next time. As long as you’re trying, and putting in your best work, you will succeed”.
Math didn’t seem so bad anymore.
Day 2: Grade 5
One student gave an answer aloud, which was not correct, and it was followed by laughter and annoyance.
I took this as a teachable moment, and was so excited to share growth mindset with them. Here is what I said:
‘When I was young, and when I gave a wrong answer, some students would laugh at me. Do you know what happened? I became so afraid to give a wrong answer, so I stopped trying. I think what [student] did right there was awesome. [Student] may not have gotten the right answer, but do you know what happened? [Student] tried their very best, and just learned something new, which means their brain is growing’.
When I asked who learned about GM, they all said they had not, therefore I took the time to explain what it was.
“Who here thinks they are bad at math?”
Hands shot up.
“The fact is, no one is. If i don’t see you all again until the end of the year, you have to promise me something. Tell yourself that you are not bad at math, or anything else. You just aren’t where you want to be...yet. But if you try hard enough, and you learn from your mistakes, I promise that you will get there”.
I hope that you will follow me along on my Growing Mindsets journey, and showing students that they can accomplish their dreams, as long as they are making mistakes along the way.