Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wanny's Words - Growth Mindset at BCS

By Wanny Hersey
Superintendent/Principal at Bullis Charter School

recent article in Education Week explains the importance of what Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist, calls growth mindset.  At BCS, growth mindset is part of our fundamental teaching philosophy which asserts that student ability can be developed through hard work and a commitment to learning.  The opposite of this - a fixed mindset - is the belief that a child’s ability is already set.  Individuals with a fixed mindset are far less likely to develop new skills and talents, or even improve the ones they have.

Last spring, our teachers worked together over the course of several staff meetings to read some of Dweck’s landmark research and to collaborate about how this can be further incorporated into our teaching methods, most notably in our Focused Learning Goals (FLGs).  An example of how a teacher might use the growth mindset is by emphasizing how a student worked toward a goal, rather than on the achievement of the goal itself:

(Reading Goal, 2nd Grade): STUDENT is making significant improvements in her verbal retells during guided reading groups, and as evidenced by her increased DRA level.  She is able to include most of the important characters, events and details in her summaries.  To challenge her further in coming months, she will communicate retells in written form.

Of course, the teachers are only one part of the equation - it is important for students and parents to adopt a growth mindset as well in order to instill a “love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment” (from Dweck’s website).  In the coming week, try using a growth mindset perspective with your child (if you don’t already), and see what happens!

A growth mindset can help your child develop a lifelong love of learning