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When the Stakes are High: The Impact of Stereotype Threat and What We Can Do About It

By Nicole Scariano, Special Education School Improvement Specialist

Throughout the school year students form social identities about who they are and what they bring to the world. These identities are shaped in many different ways - from race and gender to religious affiliation, favorite band or team - and with each of these identities come a set of expectations. There are many different perspectives and theories on identity development, but all agree that the journey is individualistic, as no one person's experience is the same as another's. For one in six students, this social identity includes that of being a student with a disability (NYSED, 2016)....

This month our Bright Spot comes from Jo-Ann More, a 3rd grade teacher at Carrie E. Tompkins Elementary School in the Croton-Harmon School District.  She recently attended the RSE-TASC Explicit Direct Instruction Institute.

What were students able to achieve?

Students in Jo-Ann’s class generated their own growth mindset statements for a classroom bulletin board.  If you read Carol Dweck’s articles in our School Tool section, you’ll see that these students deeply understood the concept!  Here are some examples:

* I will try it a little more carefully.

* This may take some time and effort.

* Mistakes help me grow as a learner.

* I am going to figure out why it didn’t work.

* I will try another strategy.

What instructional practice had such a positive impact on students?

Jo-Ann explicitly taught her students about the plasticity of the brain and how learning occurs when you analyze and learn from mistakes, then use that information to persist and improve your performance.  In short order, her students were using these statements to keep their learning on track.

What can we learn from this?

With some explicit instruction about how we learn and practice in reframing how they think about errors, students can increase their ability to persist in the face of challenges and learn from their mistakes.  They can even come to value this opportunity.


Clarifying the Growth Mindset - March 2017

As Carol Dweck states in this Ed Week article, “Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset'", “...the path to a growth mindset is a journey, not a proclamation.” She is determined to clear up misconceptions about her work on mindsets, and in particular the widespread implementation of what she calls a “false growth mindset” in education.  In a follow-up interview in The Atlantic she provides recommendations for appropriately applying the concept of growth mindset in the classroom.

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