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.
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.
What were students able to achieve? From 1st to 6th grade, and from general education to self-contained, teachers reported these results from one simple strategy:
* “Students now accept constructive criticism when their answer is incorrect and feel comfortable enough to try again.” (4th grade ICT)
* “Students are eager to share their work and aren’t fearful of making any mistakes. They are eager to learn and collaborate.” (6th grade ICT)
* “Students have improved their handwriting and generally built up their confidence. They work out their thoughts before responding to the group.” (12:1:1 self-contained)
* “A child who always handed in a blank page for writing assignments wrote a strand of letters and put a period at the end. He ‘read’ it back to me. Although the letters were random, he is understanding the concept of a sentence and using punctuation at the end.” (1st grade ICT)
What simple instructional practice had such a positive impact on students? Individual student white boards, that allow all students to respond all the time, in a flexible easily corrected modality. Teachers see multiple advantages; for example: “Students get extremely excited when I announce that we are using them and it provides me with a quick check formative assessment throughout the lesson”; “Students can simply erase their mistakes, with no trace whatsoever. The boards are confidence builders, enabling my students to try no matter what”; “It has been really helpful for my students who get OT”; and, “A white board is a great hands-on tool and keeps the students engaged!”