Here are some strategies which can be used in the English classroom in order to promote a Growth Mindset:
Show and tell
Set a homework for student to research a person who has achieved things through failing several times. Famous examples include Michael Jordan, J.K. Rowling and Walt Disney, but stretch them to find other examples. They should then bring in their research and present their findings to a partner or small group. As an extension task, after hearing the stories students could be given time to reflect on a time they made a mistake but were able to learn from it.
I think it is essential to take the fear out of making mistakes. One way to do this could be to create a mistakes log for your students to complete. This helps to make mistakes feel like part of the learning process and gives students time to reflect. I would suggest the following columns:
- What was the mistake?
- Why was it useful?
- What did you learn from it?
I like to do this after I have marked an assessment. It makes marking and feedback a more meaningful learning experience for the students.
Rewarding effort is an essential element of encouraging a Growth Mindset. Telling a student they are your star pupil gives them nothing to strive for, but effective effort encouragement can push them forward, no matter what their ability. One approach you could use would be to reward effort in the various aspects of an assignment, for example:
This can help students to think about their levels of effort at each stage more clearly.
Scaffold questions can gently encourage students down the metacognition (thinking about thinking) route and help them to prepare the kind of responses required to achieve the highest grades. Some examples I have used in the past are:
- What do you think the writer is trying to do?
- How is the writer affecting your thinking?
- What is the meaning of the writing?
- What does the writing connect to that you already know?
To foster a Growth Mindset it is really important to give students the chance to reflect. Plenaries are a brilliant opportunity for this, and shouldn’t be saved exclusively for the end of the lesson. Mini-plenaries throughout the session after a section of work can be great opportunities to students to think about their own learning journey. Consistent reflection can help students think about how they are using, and can improve, their mind.
I hope you find some of these strategies useful. Have a wonderful weekend!