Monday, 5 May 2014

#hackyrclass week 1 - growth mindsets (part 1)

I am super excited to step up to the challenge of the #hackyrclass project via @ClaireAmosNZ and @GeoMouldey of HPSS. Even more exciting is starting off with growth mindsets... see Claire Amos' blog post for more details

Source: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-g7qM-tcAp3M/UznRDj3fBeI/AAAAAAAAINM/fM6keZlrpiQ/s1600/growth-mindset.png
I've been a big fan of the idea behind growth mindsets ever since I first read about it back in TCol (I suppose we did learn at least a few relevant things ;) ) - mostly because it fits with my interior reasoning in life that hard work and effort are far more likely to result in positive outcomes, than relying on some innate ability. (In fact I believe it was pure stubbornness that got me through my postgrad study ;) )

Another good read is: growth mindsets in maths and science - very interesting in particular to me, given my experience at a girls school - relating to the achievement of women in science and maths.

So I naturally agree with everything in the growth mindset model - but is this a result of spending many (unsuccessful) hours doing (repetitive) experiments that (most of the time didn't, but) sometimes worked? Did I always think this way, or was it something I picked up along the way? To be completely honest, I suspect when I was at school, I saw myself as being moderately intelligent - there were certainly other students I saw as being 'brighter' than me - and I didn't question it too much. Certainly no teacher introduced me to the idea that if I simply applied myself and made more of an effort that I could achieve greater results - I still remember being one of the students NOT hand-picked to sit the scholarship exams (even though I still managed a pretty good A Bursary, for those that remember it!) - I saw myself reflected in my teachers' eyes that I wasn't quite capable enough. (Perhaps one of the reasons I felt the need to 'prove' myself by spending the next 10 years at University?)

So regardless of my background in growth mindsets, how do I invoke this change of understanding in my students? There is a big problem with many students set on getting the 'right' answers, and falling into "I don't get it" mode, without hesitation.

This post is about things I try to do already in class to emulate a growth mindset, and I'll post later about a little experiment I have planned with my students this week :)

So, what did I do today that emulated a growth mindset, and hopefully influenced my students through osmosis?

Feedback on student work - I try and avoid giving grades where possible, but instead give lots of feedforward advice, how students can continue to improve upon their work. The wonderful Alfie Kohn's research supports this: the case against grades . Did my students initially complain? Maybe, but once I explained the rationale, they accepted it an moved on! Today, as well as giving written work back, I commented to the entire class how pleased I was that everyone had attempted all questions, there were no blank answers, and I could really see that they had put lots of effort into it. I see it as a win-win: I feel good for having positive, genuine interactions with my students, and they feel good for having made an effort, even though they may be able to make further improvements!

I love this video - Austin's butterfly. Where would Austin be if his first butterfly had been awarded an Achieved grade? Would he have continued to develop it?



This also ties into my obsession with SOLO taxonomy - allowing students to have a clear understanding of where they are at and where they can move to without getting hung up on A, M, E. (More info on SOLO via this link and also here, on the wonderful Pam Hook's site)

Source: http://pamhook.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/OGSOLO.png


Trying new things with relish - today I launched my own version of flipping my classroom in 2 of my classes (see previous blog post on this). Last term I found I was doing more transmission-style teaching than I was comfortable with, mostly due to the huge amount of tricky content to cover, and it made me feel dissatisfied and unhappy. I was open with my students at the time, and told them I wasn't happy with teaching that way, so today I explained that we were going to do things differently this term - but this was going to require a commitment on their part to fully participate in flipping the classroom, and (thankfully) they were excited and on board with the idea! I'm looking forward to 'pre-loading' the content before our lessons, and being able to facilitate genuine personalised learning in our precious class time. I explained I had taught myself how to use the 'explain everything' app over the holidays, and had created a new YouTube channel (which brought some laughs) - but it was important for them to see me being willing to learn new things without fear. Tomorrow will be the first lesson post-flip, so I'm excited to see what the students think.

Challenging student conceptions - Today one of my (younger) students claimed she was waiting to write an answer down until it was perfect, until she had seen what everyone else thought the right answer was. I rail against perfection! Perfection is impossible, as I told her, and to aim for it is to be continuously disappointed. I asked her to take a chance and write down (in pen!) what she thought the answer was - it didn't matter if she got the answer not quite right (and in science there really are correct and incorrect answers) - it mattered only that she took a chance and trusted in her brain to come up with the correct answer.

Source: http://www.deboraricks.com/uploads/1/0/2/6/10262868/7194156_orig.jpg

So, what are my next steps? My senior classes have internals coming up, so class time is at an absolute premium (hence the flipping idea), but I intend to have a discussion with my junior students about growth and fixed mindsets, especially because they are more inclined to see themselves as 'clever' or 'not clever'. I'm really interested to see what they think, and how recently being away at an intensive camp for a month (part of their school year) has influenced their mindsets.... more to follow!

My last thought for today - what can I do better? Where do I fall down? Today I instructed some of my seniors in the 'rules' of how they can best include concepts in their upcoming internals - I hated doing it and wish that we had more time to allow them to explore their own ideas to come to similar conclusions. It's a rather prescriptive internal in terms of the ideas the students need to communicate, and also a practical internal, so our lessons have to concentrate on allowing students to design and carry out their own experiments, and perhaps even fail doing them, so that they can develop their technical skills...... so maybe not all bad, but my approach wasn't as open-minded as I would normally have preferred. So maybe something I need to develop - to trust both myself and my students that they are capable of coming to a deep understanding on their own.

Source: http://www.themescompany.com/wp-content/gallery/education-quotes_2/education-quotes16.png


4 comments:

  1. Really interesting well-written post, Andrea. Thanks for sharing your ideas and all the awesome links and quotes! I've always found that with seniors, the more I let go the better they learn/achieve! Look forward to reading more...

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    1. Thanks Ros :) I'm finding that the more I let go, the happier and prouder I feel - much more satisfying to see them succeed under their own steam!

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  2. Absolutely loved your post! Definitely can relate to the feeling of dissatisfaction of transmission teaching and adore the idea of flipped learning. Am hoping to try it this term with my Year 11s. Also appreciated your work with Solo! Am still learning how to use and apply it .. your post with co-constructed student focussed solo LI's and steps was awesome as well. Thankyou! #hackchat is great.

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    1. Thanks Alex - I'm slightly obsessed with SOLO ;) but even my students are starting to speak the lingo now, and I hope it's making their learning more transparent :)

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