Powerful Podcast: Growth Mindset

Eduardo Briceno, is the CEO of Mindset Works, a company that specializes in creating a culture of learning that fosters student growth through the idea of the growth mindset. He participates in an great podcast where he explains why his company is built around it, how he implements the ideas, successes, and failures.  His company has been going for 9 years strong and he even has had to apply the growth mindset to his personal life and getting his company to grow.   He discusses how this process if developmental and it takes time to work.  It is not just a switch that is turned on.

I recently wrote a blog, Growth Mindset: Why Not?, because this is such a hot topic in education.  Some are believers, some are in the middle, while others believe that it is not effective and will not help enough to be a truly meaningful process.  My opinion was why not!?  As a teacher I experience far to many students who did not believe in their abilities or just had negative  views on life in general.  Even if this impacts them on a smaller scale, gets them to think outside the box, experiment, and think more positively, then this is certainly worth your time.

This podcast is a must for any who those discussed above whether you believe, no nothing, or are not a believer.  This gentleman has made a business out of it and found it to be very successful when done correctly.  He has done extensive research on the topic as well so I encourage you to follow up and look at some of his findings as well.

Happy listening and best wishes to all of you that are giving it a try!  Feel free to comment and add successes/failures that you have encountered with the growth mindset.

ESSA Committee Agrees on Testing Issues

Alyson Klein publishes an article that summarizes what it means for testing as the ESSA committee finally agreed on how to move forward.  Check out her article to see what the plans are!

Also, if you are interested in additional reading to how this process has progressed please select the hyperlink on her name and you can follow her articles throughout this process!

Amazing Study on Socioeconomic Status

“Students in racially and socioeconomically integrated schools experience academic, cognitive, and social benefits that are not available to students in racially isolated, high-poverty environments. A large body of research going back five decades underscores the improved experiences that integrated schools provide. And yet, more than sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education,American public schools are still highly segregated by both race and class. In fact, by most measures of integration, our public schools are worse off, since they are now even more racially segregated than they were in the 1970s, and economic segregation in schools has risen dramatically over the past two decades.

In this report, we highlight the work that school districts and charter schools across the country are doing to promote socioeconomic and racial integration by considering socioeconomic factors in student assignment policies.”

This article highlights the findings and also how these decisions can impact student learning and their educational experience.  They found that 91 districts/charters use socioeconomic status as a factor in student assignment.  This covers over 4 million students today and spans over 32 states.  These are some of the highlights of their findings so please click to continue reading!

Image is borrowed from The Century Foundation.


Principals Need Evaluated Too!

In this article, published by Peter DeWitt and guest written by Nathaniel Greene, Mr. Greene discusses a study he performs that show’s principals do not get evaluated enough.

Check it out to learn about some of the results of his survey and what he recommends principals do to gain a perspective on their performance from their staff.  Principals are the leaders of our schools, the face of the campus, and need to model best practices at all times.  Teachers are under the microscope and feeling the pressures of teaching more now than maybe ever before and they deserve to be lead by someone who is also doing their part.  Performance based reviews and feedback are a constant for most teachers so why not evaluate and offer feedback to those in charge of the campus?  It might begin and end with the teacher but the principal can make an huge impact on student growth if they do their jobs effectively and with passion.

Kudos to Nathaniel Greene for coming up with this fantastic topic and completing this project!

Social-Emotional Learning Helps Students Soar

Powerful article by Marva Hinton that highlights the successes of a South Carolina after school program called WINGS for kids.

This is a fantastic story about educating students after school emotions and social skills that helps them to building confidence in themselves and abilities and it translates to success in education.  Sounds similar to the growth mindset to me and my previous article.

Growth Mindset – Why not!?

How many of you have come across a student who is “at risk”?  At risk students are those that are in danger of not being successful and there are many factors that play into this: bad attendance or behavior, ELL, ESL, pregnancy, poor grades, perform poorly on standardized tests, and the list goes on.  Some of these students might even be the brightest in your class but just have issues that effect their ability to learn and grow.

How do we reach these students and provide a learning environment that fosters relationships, learning, and growth?  Have you ever heard about the growth mindset that was developed by Carol Dweck?  Some of you have and some of you have not.  For those that have not heard about the growth mindset I would encourage you to take 10 minutes and watch Carol Dweck give a TEDTalk speech.  It is the growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset.  In summary, the idea is that those who BELIEVE that they can perform will perform BETTER  than those who do not.

Duh right?  Most would agree that you have to believe to achieve, but if it was that easy then we would not be taking the time to talk about it.  Have you ever come across a student who just does not believe in themselves?  They come in all shapes, sizes, genders, ethnic backgrounds, you name it, there are some students who just do not believe.  Turning the corner with these students requires you to be humble, dedicated, patient, and also take the time to learn about their background.

As educators, we spend more time with some of our students than their parents do so besides teaching them it is crucial that we build strong relationships with them.  This will enable us to be much more successful in impacting student growth but also make us better educators.

The power of the growth mindset is that it encourages you to look at the way you carry yourself, offer feedback, support, and talk to your students.  In order for it to be successful, we need to make sure that we first dedicate ourselves to representing our communities, schools, and maybe most importantly ourselves, in a positive way.  Can you look at yourself in the mirror and say that you do this?

The growth mindset will help to cultivate these positive learning environments and foster connections with our students that will last a life time.  The challenge is that as educators you need to be committed to the growth mindset if you are going to use it.  I feel that is something that most people do not understand.  I believe that the growth mindset not only can help our students grow but also ourselves as educators.

We have discussed how this mindset could help those at risk or even those who are classified to have a disability, but what about those who are not?  I mentioned previously that some students have potential but lack the confidence to show it because it is not always “cool” to be smart.  What about our gifted students?  A growth mindset can still apply because the challenge for them is that they are ahead of the game so we need to encourage them to push the boundaries and challenge them to more advanced tasks.  This will allow them to still grow while still following the mindset.  For me the growth mindset is not the overall solution – it is an idea rooted in the foundation of learning.

I do not know about you but I have always learned better from positive, encouraging people vs. those who discourage or say things like, “Not everyone is good at math, just do your best”, is that supposed to motivate me to do better?  No, that allows kids to settle for mediocrity.  The growth mindset can apply to students of all learning levels, it is up to you on how you use it.

Now there are also arguments against the growth mindset.  Hattie shows that it only has an impact value of .19 and according to his scale, it is ideal if methods/strategies have at least an impact value of .4 to really make a difference.  Another challenge is that as educators you need to be committed to the growth mindset if you are going to use it.  It will not work if you do not commit to 100% and I feel that is something that most people do not understand.  The final comes from a parent.  In her article she proposes the fixed mindset for those who are gifted and talented.  Another great idea and she finishes discussing the weaknesses of each but again I say that any of these mindset are just about changing the way we think.  We still need blended learning, personalized learning, LMS systems, and other things along side of the growth mindset to impact growth.

I believe the growth mindset will help to cultivate these positive learning environments and foster connections with our students that will last a life time.  The challenge is, that as educators, you need to be committed.  If you dedicate yourself to improving how you support, offer feedback, teach, and communicate with your students this will have an impact.  This, I feel, is something that most people do not understand.  The say they have a growth mindset, regenerate a lesson design and offer great feedback for a day, week, or even a unit but that simply is just not enough.

What could be the harm in committing to provide great feedback in a timely manner, provide support both educationally and emotionally, encourage them through thick and thin to never give up, demonstrate how to be a positive role model and treat others equally, and then finally to believe in themselves.  When a person can do all of the above then they gain a sense of self worth and with that comes confidence.  This article, “3 Things Students Desire to Hear From Their Teachers” by Dr. Lori Desautel, states the things are: Believe, Purpose, and Question Me.  These all relate to the growth mindset.  It certainly is not the only way to impact growth, many other factors contribute to it as well, but if all we need to do is support our students 100%, whether they are gifted, special ed, at risk, or a “normal” student, then I say let’s do it!  Why not, what is the harm in that!?

Additional Resources:

Nurturing Growth Mindsets: Six Tips From Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’

Creating the Context for Growth Mindsets in the Classroom

Teaching Kids to Struggle #GrowthMindset

Why a ‘Growth Mindset’ Won’t Work

The Problem With Having a ‘Growth Mindset’


CAOs and CTOs Must Collaborate

Great article from Sean Cavanagh about CAOs and CTOs and how they are collaborating now like never before!  Check it out!

To Flip or not to Flip Your Classroom…

Interesting perspective from Ross Cooper who has a great website on curriculum.  In this article he discusses why he never flipped his classroom.  The idea is great and innovative BUT I agree that you can definitely flip your classroom in a away that is counterproductive and is not best for the development of our students and their ability to learn through problem solving.

As a teacher, I used this method occasionally but I was careful because I was concerned about the same issues that Ross discusses in his blog.  Consider using the time to creatively present the issue/problem, and providing some of the history behind the topic that the kids will be learning the next day so that when they arrive, they are ready to jump in.

For example: I was teaching at a high school and working with students in a math elective that we called Math Modeling.  We were going to analyze elections and the various styles that are used throughout the world.  I used flipped learning to present all of the methods that we would be discussing in the unit, one at a time, and their homework was to watch each video the night before we started investigating the new method.  I presented little, to no math content at all in the videos.  They were use to inform the students so they had a solid understanding of the tasks and purpose of the lesson prior to entering the room.

So in summary, my use of Flipped Learning was to present the topic, provide examples of where it is used in real life, and to introduce the purpose of the lesson.  I wanted them to BUY INTO the lesson before they even arrived.  I did not want my students to memorize some basic tool to come in an use 50 times the next day.  I wanted to save time by introducing the lesson, which in turn, I hoped that my students would come in with questions and prepared to dive right in to the lesson.  My high schoole students really seemed to enjoy it and found that the majority of them would watch the videos on their commute to and from school on their phones.

This is a must read for any first time “flipper” because this concept is time consuming and you want to make sure that you still protect the integrity of the learning process.  For those that do this frequently, does your method still protect the learning process?  OR d0 you just use it as a way to present information and drill for skill when they get to class?  Hopefully between Ross’s blog and my use of the flipped classroom, we have opened your eyes to some of the dangers and, what I feel was, effective uses of the flipped classroom!

Check out Ross’s blog!  http://www.rosscoops31.com/2015/09/30/why-i-refused-to-flip-my-classroom/

FACT-Parental Involvemnt has HUGE impact

When I talke to districts about ways to impact student growth I always stress the importance of getting parents involved in the process.  As someone who had parental support throughout my educational career and a former teacher, I have seen and felt the benefits from both sides.  I often speak to a fact released by the U.S. Department of Ed a few years ago.  I summarize their point by saying, “at age 14, only 55% of parents are involved in their kids education and that that number continues to decline throughout highschool”.  Apparently this statistic was optomistic at best!

Matthew Lynch recently published a fantastic article, “Increasing Parental Engagement Takes More Than Email”, that supports my theory, and the theory of most educators I am sure, with statisitcs from recent study by Gallop.  This study states that 80% of parents are either indifferent or disengaged from their kid’s school.  This is a staggering number and makes my 55% statistic, one that I speak at in a negative light because it is disappointing, sound glorious.

We need to turn this 80% statistic on it’s head and provide opportunities for parents to be involved.  He then offers a new app to help engage more parents.  Read it to learn more!  If you are looking for other models for this you have to check out the Go Public initiative in San Antonio or some of the actions taken by Lancaster ISD in Texas.  These are just examples of programs that have had enormous success in getting parents involved in the learning process and I am sure there are TONS of other schools with the same.

Let’s use this as a forum to share how our schools engage parents so that we can all work to tip the scales!