Well this year I have learned something quite new. My school has been reading a book called Mindset. Maybe you have heard of it? So you're thinking what is "mindset" exactly and can I change it. Well good news you can! So according to this book you are either of fixed mindset or of growth mindset. Growth mindset people seek challenges. When we started reading this book I wasn't sure how this whole mindset thing would impact my teaching and classroom...but I was so wrong!
So I answered an online quiz that determine I as of growth mindset, in which I agreed. I have always been someone to challenge myself and worked hard at achieving my goals. I don't think at all points of my life I have had a growth mindset but have made changes to become so.
This book brought up some interesting topics about how we teach and talk to children and how we help them have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
What is praise?
Good Job! That was great! Wow! You are so smart! Those can't be bad to say can they? Don't they make children feel good about themselves? Well of course they do, but what happens when this "smart child'' is faced with a difficult task? According to the book this child unfortunately gives up, it's too hard and they can't do it. Praise is a judgement "You are good" and when the next child doesn't hear "You are good" they think "I am bad" and we don't want that, do we?
What is encouragement?
Wow! You worked so hard on that problem! I noticed it took you awhile to solve that, how do you feel? You did it! Encouragement is specific and not general. It teaches children that is safe to make mistakes and that trying is important. Children gain self-confidence. When they faced with a challenge they will face it and try, rather than quit.
Now don't get me wrong this is a hard change! And it doesn't mean you can never praise a child, sometimes that is what's right, but take these thoughts and try them out with your students. Ask them how it makes them feel when you encourage them rather than praise them! And let me know your thoughts!