I think in the article The “Mindset” Mindset: What We Miss By Focusing on Kids’ Attitudes Alfie Kohn oversimplified things when he says that praising effort (“You tried hard”) is just another manipulation/external motivation ‘doggie biscuit’ for students. Most teachers go many steps further by helping students to reflect on what they did well vs. what they could improve on, giving positive feedback on thought processes rather than just the right answer, and encouraging students to focus on their personal academic growth instead of comparing themselves to a particular standard.
That being said, I think the point he made about the problem not being the students’ attitudes but rather the system in which they are learning is a bulls-eye. The hypocrisy brings to mind the Bible verse about removing the beam out of one’s own eye before removing the speck from someone else’s. What good does it do to instill a growth mindset in the students all year, only to have it cut to shreds on report card day, or worse yet, standardized test day? I definitely do not have the answer to how to assess students in a way that is compatible with a growth mindset, but I’d be interested in exploring the question.
My mindset has definitely shifted since I left the classroom for the tech integration position. I think removing the pressure of TpT level lesson plans, student data tracking, Pinterest worthy bulletin boards, and test scores helped quite a bit! I approached this new position with a much less competitive spirit and embraced the fact that I had a lot to learn. For this reason, the quotes from Josh Waitzkin that appear in The Power of Belief video hit home for me.
I hope that as I move forward with my innovation plan I am able to instill a growth mindset, not only in the students participating in the club projects, but in the teachers as well so that they may also be willing to try project-based learning in their own classrooms and not fear failure but see the opportunity to grow.
The Power of Belief - mindset and success, Eduardo Briceno (10:51)