Begin A New Year of Growth

The last 23 of my 45 years as an educator has been spent focusing on growth instead of grades. I have to say that I received far more success with students once I made this shift.

Since grades are a reality, refraining them is essential for maximizing success. Because of parental pressure, it is imperative that we help parents focus on growth instead of on the "A."

Grades offer great feedback, but only if students have time to reflect on the their results. Whether the results are positive or negative, time needs to be set aside for students to evaluate the effectiveness of their preparation or the methods of study they employed. This must be followed by a description of what the students will do in the future to either replicate the positive results or improve the negative ones. 

The following are ways to focus on a growth mindset:

    • Recognize hard work and perseverance instead of "natural" gifts and talents.
    • Normalize mistakes and model ways to learn from them.
    • Encourage observable changes in behavior to change results.
    • Reveal the "hidden stories" of success. For example, how much practice it takes for world class athletes to get to the top of their game.
    • Express pride and praise your student when he/she takes on new challenges.
    • Teach your student about their brain. The brain can continue to grow with exercise. Practice makes the brain stronger. A child’s experiences are key to the development of the brain. Neuroscientists have a phrase to emphasize this: the neurons that fire together wire together.
    • Recognize that a growth mindset is a journey, not a destination.

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