Thursday, November 5, 2015

"Not Yet" - Reframing Mindsets for Teaching and Learning

When Carol Dweck's book about growth mindset came out in 2007, it was heralded as a must read for educators.  The "soundbite" of advice for teachers and parents involved praising effort (not intelligence).  The practice promised to help change a child's preconceived idea about their intelligence or skills - moving them from a "fixed" mindset to a "growth" mindset.  Her ideas made sense from my experience with young children who seemed to already know who the "smart kids" were in a class.  I remember talking with my own adult children about changing their parenting language from, "That's so smart," to comments such as, "You really stuck with that and worked hard."

Misconceptions and oversimplifications of the original work, have caused Dweck and her colleagues to revisit the idea of "growth mindset".  You can hear some of her new thinking in the 2014 Ted Talk as she talks about the power of adding, "Yet," or "Not yet," to feedback and the implications these small words have in leading our brains toward future thinking and a belief in self-improvement.

In an September 2015 article published in Education Week, Dweck talks of the complexities surrounding the topic.  She specifically addressed what has happened in the years since her original mindset book was published.  Two points stuck with me.  The first was reminding readers the true goal of effort is learning.  Dweck suggests adding, "Now let's talk about what you tried and what you might try next."  This aspect of coaching in a growth mindset approach helps children embrace struggles and setbacks as part of learning.

Another point of resonance for me was "everyone has a combination of both fixed and growth mindsets."   Maintaining a growth mindset means learning to pay attention to when self-talk comes from a fixed place.  Dweck's website offers specific steps and examples of thoughts emanating from a fixed mindset voice and how to practice countering the fixed message.

As role models for our students, deepening our understanding of Dweck's new thinking is worth our time and attention.  Reading about her revised thinking is a wonderful example of her own journey in the area of mindsets and lifelong learning.

Ideas for Classroom Application:
•Use the "growth mindset" side from Carol Dweck's chart below in helping children with their internal scripts.

•Take another peek at the video of a 2nd grade teacher helping her class understand that struggles, setbacks and justifying one's thinking is part of learning.

•A mindset visual for use with your students:
Image captured from:

Personal/Professional Growth:
•To read more about Dweck's work and/or take a mindset quiz, check out her Mindset website.
•Watch the 2014 TedTalk video.  

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