How Harnessing the Positive Side of Stress Can Change Student Mindsets

flickr photo by racka_abe shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

This new MindShift piece by Katrina Schwartz outlines the advantages of talking about the positive aspects stress with students.

“Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset and its power to help people view challenges as opportunities to improve has helped many students understand their beliefs about themselves. When empowered with the understanding that intelligence is malleable, students can develop how they approach school and life. But the revelations around mindsets don’t end there — they apply to other areas of education, including how students view and react to stress.

There is a lot of research about how stress negatively impacts health, cognitive functioning and self-control, but less often discussed are how those findings change when people see their stress as a positive motivator. “In a number of situations, accepting and embracing the stress instead of trying to calm down helped students to do better,” said Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University at a Learning and the Brain conference on mindsets.”  Read the rest of the post here.


Growth Mindset Strategies from Edutopia

creative commons licensed (BY-NC) flickr photo by doc(q)man:

Edutopia recently shared a new compilation of resources for teaching and nurturing a growth mindset.

Carol Dweck shares a new post which lists several important misunderstandings and applications of growth mindset in schools. One aspect she notes is the act of praising effort alone, without specifically giving students feedback on their learning.

“In many quarters, growth mindset was boiled down to praising effort. Yes, our work had shown that praising students’ process (their hard work, strategies, focus, and persistence) and tying it to their performance, learning, or progress could promote a growth mindset. But in many teachers’ practice, it had become divorced from any learning or progress. “Great effort” became the consolation prize for children who weren’t learning. So the very students who most needed to learn about developing their abilities were instead receiving praise for their ineffective effort.

Teachers need to tell the truth. They can acknowledge laudable effort, but they also need to acknowledge when students are not learning effectively, and then work with them to find new learning strategies.”  Read the rest of the post here.

Ellie Cowen has a great piece on productive struggle.  She begins by describing a young student’s experience and approach to solving a math problem and continues by describing the reasons behind starting lessons with productive struggle for students.

“The format of Mrs. Tambor’s math lesson reflected her desire to build productive struggle into her students’ daily educational experience. To ensure plenty of time for puzzling and reasoning, she started her lesson with independent work time, moving into the teacher-centered portion of the lesson only after students had been studying the problem, first independently and then in pairs, for more than half of their math block.

Why would a teacher decide to structure a math lesson this way? Here are a few reasons that teachers have shared with me:

1. It prioritizes the student-centered portion of lesson.

If time runs out, the students’ time to explore isn’t cut short or eliminated.

2. It builds authentic engagement.

As each student confronts the problem and attempts to solve it, there is a feeling of mounting suspense. What is the question that I need to answer? How will I go about solving this problem? Will my strategy work? Will my classmates solve the problem in different ways? By the time the students gather in a group, they have a rich context for the problem at hand, and are genuinely curious about its solution.”  Read the rest of the piece here.

5-Minute Film Festival: Freedom to Fail Forward

Edutopia’s list of freedom to fail forward clips are also worth a peek.

“Failure is an inevitable part of life, but it’s often accompanied by shame — most people do everything in their power to avoid it. But to paraphrase educational philosopher John Dewey, a true thinker learns as much from failures as from successes. What if educators worked to take some of the sting (and the stigma) out of failing, and encouraged reflection and revision to build upon the lessons learned? Perhaps there’s a goldmine of opportunities if we can re-frame failure as a valuable learning experience, an essential step along the path to discovery and innovation. Check out this list of videos to help start the conversation about embracing failure.”

Check out the clips here.

Mindset in the News ~ Update from Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck ~ EdWeek Sept 23

Carol Dweck‘s research has been in the news again recently.  Notably, Dweck herself addresses concerns about elements of mindset being misused in this recent EdWeek Piece.

“As we’ve watched the growth mindset become more popular, we’ve become much wiser about how to implement it. This learning—the common pitfalls, the misunderstandings, and what to do about them—is what I’d like to share with you, so that we can maximize the benefits for our students.

A growth mindset isn’t just about effort.Perhaps the most common misconception is simply equating the growth mindset with effort. Certainly, effort is key for students’ achievement, but it’s not the only thing. Students need to try new strategies and seek input from others when they’re stuck. They need this repertoire of approaches—not just sheer effort—to learn and improve.

We also need to remember that effort is a means to an end to the goal of learning and improving. Too often nowadays, praise is given to students who are putting forth effort, but not learning, in order to make them feel good in the moment: “Great effort! You tried your best!” It’s good that the students tried, but it’s not good that they’re not learning. The growth-mindset approach helps children feel good in the short and long terms, by helping them thrive on challenges and setbacks on their way to learning. When they’re stuck, teachers can appreciate their work so far, but add: “Let’s talk about what you’ve tried, and what you can try next.” Read the entire piece here

Carol Dweck’s TED Talk: The Power of Believing You Can Improve

From TED:

“Carol Dweck researches “growth mindset” — the idea that we can grow our brain’s capacity to learn and to solve problems. In this talk, she describes two ways to think about a problem that’s slightly too hard for you to solve. Are you not smart enough to solve it … or have you just not solved it yet? A great introduction to this influential field.” read more here.