How to best provide student feedback and praise to a diverse student population as a way to encourage greater student effort, resulting in gains in academic achievement.
The Fiske School staff wanted to leverage teacher praise to close the achievement gap with high needs students (ELL, SPED, minority populations, and low income).
The plan started with a small staff-led team who had previously developed and implemented an anti-bullying initiative throughout the school in 2011-12. An incoming principal who had done some preliminary work on growth mindset in another school district embraced this group’s work. Together, the group saw the connections between growth mindset and anti-bullying initiatives, and they decided to share their work with the school.
In the first year, in addition to a whole school book study on Mindset, teachers engaged in professional development sessions using components of the LeaderKit. That first year, the focus was on changing teacher praise from performance-based to effort-based. Teachers practiced changing their language, and were supported by observations and feedback sessions from the principal. Data was collected, and teachers were encouraged by initial results, so they sought out more resources and tools to keep learning and improving.
In the second year, the MindsetMaker™ Online Professional Development course was used to deepen the work. At grade level meetings, in the teachers' lounge, and throughout the hallways, staff discussed and questioned common teaching practices. The schools' new common vocabulary was forged from language presented in the videos, articles, and activities Fiske teachers engaged in with MindsetMaker™.
Both teacher-reported student growth and standardized test gains were powerful. Student growth percentile in math MCAS scores rose dramatically in 2013 and were maintained in 2014. Typical average growth in the state is 50 points, but in Fiske, student growth percentile was an average of 75.5 and the growth was maintained in 2014 across all fourth and fifth grade students. Just recently in 2016, Fiske learned that they are one of 39 schools that are being commended by the state for "high achievement, high progress or narrowing the proficiency gap." This means that Fiske made significant progress in moving students to proficiency as indicated by MCAS scores.
At Fiske, growth mindset discussions and continued professional development have become part of the school culture. In developing annual teacher goals, teachers often reference a growth mindset as part of their approach. The growth mindset culture has paid off in collegiality, student learning and achievement gains, and in closing the achievement gap.
How to best implement growth mindset practices in a school of 400+ at-risk students, touching as many kids and adults as possible.
Recognizing that middle school is a time in students’ lives where many have come to conclusions like, ‘I’m just not smart,’ Stuart-Hobson began a journey to transform the mindsets of its students, equipping them with the tools that they would need to be successful in middle school and beyond.
After reading Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset, Principal Dawn Clemens immediately recognized how mindsets were remarkably relevant to her as a mother. With her daughters just having left for college, she knew she had to start implementing the growth mindset work and language with her students at Stuart-Hobson, but wasn’t sure how. After attending a principal conference where Mindset Works staff presented, she watched the engaging videos and completed the online modules of MindsetMaker™. She then learned about Brainology®, the blended learning curriculum for students. She knew this was exactly what her students needed. With funding by the Raikes Foundation, DCPS was able to offer a SchoolKit and live training to Stuart-Hobson.
In year one, all support providers, administrators, and teachers were trained with live training and/or MindsetMaker in the fall. Because the teachers were trained in mindset before it was introduced to the students, first year’s implementation was a second semester offering. Stuart-Hobson implemented Brainology in all of their 7th grade science classes. This turned out to be a great opportunity to learn, grow and improve upon their first year.
By year two, Brainology was offered as a ‘Specials’ 9-week elective course, as Principal Clemens was not only able to expand the program to reach more students, she was able to use her trained support staff to engage parents as well. What Principal Clemens recognized was that if she was going to teach students about the growth mindset and the importance of effort, process and strategies at school, it was critical to aligned what was being done at school with the messages students were receiving at home. The parent engagement sessions taught parents about mindsets and also introduced them to the language that encourages, communicates and fosters a growth mindset. As Principal Clemens stated, “Language such as, ‘I love the strategies you choose’, ‘I love how you persevered despite the challenges’ and ‘I love how you came home and got right to work’, is what parents need to be communicating more instead of how smart their child is.”
By the third year of the program, Principal Clemens saw more ways the program could be altered to better serve her students. In year two, Principal Clemens did not feel like the students who really needed to receive Brainology were getting it, because it was only offered as an elective class. So during the third year of implementation, Stuart-Hobson made the program mandatory for all 6th graders. The course is now a transition class, where every 6th grader at Stuart-Hobson Middle School takes Brainology along with study skills. Principal Clemens now knows that students will have this knowledge base and will take it with them to 7th grade, 8th grade, and beyond.
As a result of the Brainology implementation, Stuart-Hobson has seen a host of positive changes in their at-risk student population. Principal Clemens shared, “The kids that I speak to when I stop by the Brainology classroom feel empowered. When students realize that they have control over effort and thus the results they see, they are off and running.” She went on to say, “I have watched kids completely change their attitude toward the effort they are willing to put in. The online portion of this program engages students and makes learning exciting for our students.”
The year that Stuart-Hobson began their Brainology implementation, in 7th grade science, school leaders examined the SRI scores of students in a reading intervention course. The students in this reading intervention course were reading at least two years behind grade level. At the end of that year, 6th grade students increased 213 Lexile points, 8th grade students increased 150 points, and 7th grade students increased 417 points. There were various factors that played a role in the gains that year. Important to note is 7th grade was the only grade level that received Brainology.
After year two, students had more growth in iReady Math than any other school in the District. The average growth for the District was 55% and Stuart-Hobson's growth was 86%. In regards to SRI scores, they were number one again in regards to growth in the District. “I do believe there was achievement growth due to this program,” stated Principal Clemens. Stuart-Hobson celebrated their top scores in D.C. in reading and math, and were recognized by media outlets and district officials as being one of the best performing middle school in the city.
Since the onset of the SchoolKit implementation Stuart-Hobson has seen both motivational growth and academic success in their students. Faculty continue to be lead learners from year to year and aren’t afraid to make mistakes and changes to the program as necessary to ensure students are receiving what they need to be successful. Principal Clemens continues to provide Doug Creef with the support he needs to successfully implement the program, makes needed scheduling tweaks, and supports staff as they too learn and reflect on their practices.
Students were giving up easily when work became challenging. The teachers noticed that although students believed they were working hard, there seemed to be a disconnect between students' reported mindsets and their actual behavior in the classroom.
The goal at Farmington was to create a Growth Mindset School Culture that addressed student, educator, and parent mindsets.
As a staff, there was a sense that students perceived hard work and increased effort as evidence that they had low intelligence. Teachers were searching for strategies to use in their classroom to increase persistence, and were also on the lookout for a curriculum to teach growth mindset and learning strategies that students could use in class. Administration answered the call with several moves to address their teachers' needs.
The first move was to purposefully guide the staff through MindsetMaker™ Online Professional Development course. Here, teachers completed some of the modules together, and then did some individually. Teachers were supported throughout by whole group discussions in which they shared the results of using the tools and resources in their classrooms. Having colleagues to talk with helped the staff to examine previous beliefs and build new ones about learning and the nature of intelligence.
Another move was to enroll all 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students in Brainology. In this way, as the staff were learning about their own mindsets, the students were also learning that they could grow their brains and use learning strategies when work became challenging.
Finally, after communicating with the tight-knit community about the school's growth mindset goals during Back-to-School Night, administrators held monthly book study chats with parents using Carol Dweck's book Mindset. Parents began to see the connection between their children's learning in school and their parenting at home.
All teachers completed MindsetMaker™ in the first two months of school. Even though Brainology was only used for 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students, all teachers were able to benefit from the extensive support within the professional development course. Using classroom observations to examine how language and growth mindset concepts were being presented, Principal Roger Will reports that a growth mindset school culture has permeated to about 75% of the staff.
The Brainology curriculum for the 4th-6th grade students was instrumental in allowing the students the opportunity to learn about their own mindsets, as well as what a growth mindset looks like. Before and after completing Brainology, students completed a survey about their beliefs. The data is conclusive that students who had a fixed mindset prior to Brainology were able to develop more of a growth mindset over time. Teachers report that students now use growth mindset language and that many are choosing to tackle more difficult tasks because working hard isn't a sign of being dumb, but an opportunity to grow their brain.
Principal Will shared, "Using the Mindset[Maker] online tools and Brainology made the content digestible and usable. I couldn't imagine creating a growth mindset culture without these tools." Moving forward, the school plans to continue Brainology in the 4th grade and make it accessible to new 5th and 6th graders. New staff will also complete MindsetMaker™ so they can be onboarded into this exciting school culture.
After using MindsetMaker®, Fiske’s math scores rose well above the state average.
At Stuart-Hobson Middle School, SRI scores rose by 417 points in the class that completed Brainology.
Students who completed Brainology demonstrated a significantly stronger growth mindset.
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