Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Growth Mindset Is Not Just For Students

I have written before about the value of establishing and supporting a growth mindset in and towards students.  As school leaders, do we also work to establish a growth mindset in and towards our teachers?

Some school leaders may be hesitant to approach growth oriented feedback with teachers.  The temptation to focus on fixed results (test scores, duties performed, clubs sponsored, etc.) is powerful and is not entirely without some merit.  Using some markers to suggest areas for growth, such as fixed results, can lead to a clearer, more effective growth plan.

Talking about professional growth and making that mindset the foundation of most conversations makes people vulnerable.  Weaknesses are exposed.  Walls are torn down.  This can make some people uncomfortable.

It can be just as uncomfortable for students to engage in growth oriented conversations.  Therefore, strategies that help students focus on growth may also help teachers.

Here are a few.
  • Establish trust.  No trust, no chance of genuine conversation.  Be supportive and deliver on your promises.
  • Share your growth plan with the teachers.  Involve them as key parts to your growth feedback loop.
  • Set appropriate goals that address effort, preparation, attitude, and approach.
  • Use fixed markers as data points to track your progress.  For example, "What does the fact that more students are engaged in class say about your efforts to try a new instructional method?"
  • Observe what great teachers are doing AWAY from class as well as IN class.  How do they prepare?  What effort goes into designing a great class?
  • Focus on formative evaluations as part of an on-going development strategy.  Use summative evaluations to speak about overall performance and contribution (or detraction) from the "team."
Do you have any other suggestions for developing a growth mindset culture with teachers?  If so, please leave a comment here or email me.

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