Maybe the most important thing our students can develop is a Growth Mindset. This series of mini-articles suggests some ways that we can assist our students to develop a GM.
As teachers, we are naturally caring and want the best for our students. This can, however, have the opposite effect to what we want to achieve - real learning. If you do lots of explaining and make everything simple, you deny the students an important GM opportunity.
A core aspect of a growth mindset is accepting that subject matter expertise is developed through engagement with a topic. In a test-driven system, teachers complain that there is no time for any kind of deeper learning. We need to find ways around this, to invest the time to allow exploration and discovery, particularly in grades where there is not a high-stakes exit exam.
It is concerning to note the number of times and ways our wonderful, cheerful, engaged students speak of depression and other emotional issues they and their peers struggle with. Of course, there are many reasons for this, and we cannot control those which are not part of school, for example traumatic events or situations at home. But there are areas where we can make a difference.
To foster a Growth Mindset approach in our classrooms, we need to reward academic honesty. A Fixed Mindset approach can lead to cheating and other desperate coping strategies. We need to create learning opportunities where it is safe to not know. Through our passionate commitment in the classroom and our belief that our students can do better, we build their sense of self-worth and diminish their need to merely get good marks at any cost.