Growth mindset in schools has become a popular topic in recent years. In department meetings at my school we’ve spent a lot of time discussing how we talk to our students about making progress in the math curriculum. Almost immediately, we all realized that many of the conversations we have with students are often laden with subtle messages about whether we think they will make progress in the curriculum, whether they are “smart” or not. We didn’t intend to send these messages, but we are so steeped in them that we can’t help ourselves. With this unfortunate realization, we established a course of action that would help us to change from the inside out. We all needed to change our thought patterns and core beliefs in order to meaningfully implement the growth mindset techniques and practices that will help make a difference in our students’ lives.
Below, I’m sharing some of what I’ve learned the last year as I worked to develop a growth mindset and then implement growth mindset strategies in the classroom. Whether you are a beginner at growth mindset, are looking for some tips for yourself, or are hoping to find some resources for your colleagues, team, or department, you will certainly find something here for you! I’ll describe our downloadable Growth Mindset Teacher Survey and Growth Mindset Math Teacher Case Study Analysis, but first I want to let you know about Sadlier's free 2-part masterclass on growth mindset.
I’m sharing some of what I’ve learned the last year as I worked to develop a growth mindset and then implement growth mindset strategies in the classroom.
My friend and colleague Dr. Matthew Beyranevand recently offered an online growth mindset training titled Develop Growth Mindset in Mathematics. This free two-part masterclass is now available ON DEMAND so teachers, departments, principals, and administrators can learn how to promote a growth mindset in K–6 students! Designed to get students actively learning and developing a deep understanding of math, Dr. Matthew Beyranevand, math teacher, author, presenter, and district administrator, shares a variety of K–6 strategies and classroom routines that promote a positive growth mindset. Plus, when you enroll this on-demand video training you will get access to the masterclass growth mindset worksheets.
After watching Class 1, Understanding the Fundamentals of Growth Mindset, you will find some tools to help students adopt positive growth mindsets, learn effective ways to connect with your most reluctant learners, and discover practical techniques to boost homework and assessment results. Class 2, Games and Activities to Support Growth Mindset, will give you strategies and tools to help your students discover the joy of math, increase motivation and success in all your students, and learn practical ways to unlock every student’s potential.
I have known Matthew for 20 years. I have seen him put what he is talking about into practice in his own classroom. As a district math specialist, I was well aware of how his students performed on district and state tests. But growth mindset is more than just techniques to improve test scores. Matthew knows how to create a culture of learning in his classroom where all students are expected to make progress and are provided with the tools, strategies, and encouragement they need to succeed. He made the transition to growth mindset years ago and has been perfecting his craft ever since. I hope you will take the time to watch these masterclass courses. Both classes come with reflection sheets and additional downloads for you to use.
The second resource available to you is a growth mindset worksheet created by Matthew. It is an eight-question Teacher Growth Mindset Survey that you can administer for yourself or in a group setting with your colleagues. It’s a great way to see where you stand regarding growth mindset in your own teaching.
As with all tools like these, I find that it’s not the score itself that is so important, but the dialogues you can start with your colleagues about your respective scores. There is power in opening up dialogue about growth mindset in the math classroom! Especially if teachers need to make a shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, discussing the survey results can shine light into the areas they might need to change some of their underlying assumptions about the way they teach or interact with students.
The survey fits easily on a half sheet of paper and includes a scoring guide. Scores range from 0 (fixed mindset) to 24 (strong growth mindset). While there is some value in completing the survey on your own, consider taking it to a team meeting, a department meeting or professional development day. Have teachers self-score their survey right then and there in order to start those conversations. Thanks to Dr. Beyranevand for allowing us to turn his survey into printable growth mindset worksheets that educators can download for FREE!
We hear a lot about the theory behind growth mindset, and we need to understand that. Nonetheless, successful veteran math teachers have a set of classroom practices that might vary from what we perceive as the “ideal” growth mindset model for our classroom. I found this to be the case with three of my colleagues who have taught math from Grades 3 to 8. I am lucky to work with these three teachers with a years-long record of high growth among their students. I have been in all of their classrooms and have marveled over the years at how they consistently help all students to have high growth. We have a local adage, popularized by John F. Kennedy, that says, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” I can say that for these three teachers, investigating their perspectives and practices can help provide the direction for which you and your colleagues are looking.
This bundle of growth mindset worksheets presents three case studies of these teachers based on interview transcripts. I have summarized these interviews using qualitative analysis and included a word cloud so you can get a visual on the words they use the most often. The Growth Mindset Math Teacher Case Study Analysis download also includes a graphic organizer and guiding questions for you to compare and contrast their growth mindset views and practices that will open up a great conversation between yourself and your colleagues. You can observe the ways they address the key characteristics of growth mindset and discuss the similarities and differences in how they approach those characteristics in their classroom practice.
The three teachers (whose names have been changed) are Mr. Noonan, a veteran teacher of seventh and eighth grade mathematics; Ms. Prattle, who has spent her whole career at the school teaching sixth grade math and science; and Mr. Clemens, who has taught Grades 3 to 5 math and science in urban school systems.
There are some great resources here to help you and your colleagues to make a difference in students’ lives by acquiring or deepening your commitment to a growth mindset. Because most of us, particularly veteran teachers might not have grown up in such classroom, we have to dig deep to make those changes in our belief systems that will result in a transformed practice. The resources here will help you to do that individually or along with your colleagues.