Last week I had the good fortune to be able to attend one day of the annual QUEST Conference hosted by the York Region District School Board. The theme of the conference this year was Inspiring Learning:Mobilizing Sustainable Improvement. One of the many impressive speakers I was able to listen to during my day at QUEST was Lucy West. Lucy is President/Education Consultant of Metamorphosis Teaching Learning Communities in the United States.
I was very impressed with what she had to say regarding Growth Mindset. She reminded us all in the education field that we need to ‘praise process and effort rather then ability or intelligence’. She articulated that when we do this, we encourage a growth mindset in all our students and help those with fixed mindsets change their thinking and the positive benefit is that these students with fixed mindsets may begin to persist more at tasks rather then shut down and/or give up. This is something we need to consider as parents & guardians as well. What are we doing and saying to support a growth mindset in our children? What are we modelling when we encounter a challenging learning situation ourselves?
Looking back on my own parenting over the years, I began to reflect on how often have I praised by own three children on their efforts, persistence and resiliency. Too often I had commented on their intelligence, their potential abilities or focused on the end result, their mark, rather then praising their work habits, persistence and effort on the task or assignment.
As parents/guardians we need to begin to focus more of our attention, feedback, comments and praise on these areas. We need to talk more with our children about their efforts in the area of learning skills (Responsibility, Organization, Independent Work, Collaboration, Initiative & Self Regulation). These are the areas that we should be praising and focusing our positive feedback and comments on. With more attention focused in these areas, we will help to develop a positive growth mindset in our children. This, in turn, will help them when they encounter a subject, test, assignment or situation that they may find challenging or difficult.
A second statement, from Lucy West , also had me thinking. ‘Mistakes, failures are learning opportunities. Progress not perfection! ‘ This fits in nicely with our school focus on cultivating a growth mindset in our students and staff. We need to create the conditions that support experimentation, trying something new, learning from our mistakes and making improvements and changes to improve our learning. We need to ensure that we provide good descriptive feedback for our students, in a timely fashion, so that they can use it to make improvements. We need to give them the time needed to review and use this feedback to improve their work. As teachers, parents or guardians we need to model and encourage students to learn from their mistakes by demonstrating this ourselves in our own learning and life situations. We need to strive for progress not perfection. To often we give up because we can’t get it just right. We need to see our mistakes and/or failures as learning opportunities. We can do better next time!