One of the challenges with which many teachers struggle is to assist their students in developing a better appreciation for a growth mindset. There has been much written about the value of having a growth mindset, including the outstanding Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. However, like many teachers I was struggling to come up with a simple "go to" exercise to help me work with students gain this growth mindset appreciation. I needed something that was easy to use, easy to remember, and could be done fairly quickly (I rarely have more than 20 minutes at a time that I can spend with any one student during the day) that had the potential for a significant redirection in the way students think.
So, in working with some students over the last few months, I have begun to use a simple rating exercise that seems to work every time. I have been so impressed with how this simple reflection exercise has worked, I want to share it with you.
Here is how it works.
1. Ask the student to spend a few moments reflecting on her recent results in school. Yes, I know that is more of a fixed mindset way of thinking, but stick with me!
2. Ask the student to reflect on what she did leading up to those results.
3. Ask the student to rate how hard they worked to get those results on a 10 point scale (10 being as hard as they possibly could).
4. If the student says anything other than 10, ask them to describe what the next number higher means to them. If he says, "10" ask him to imagine that an 11 was possible, how would it differ from a 10?
5. Now, ask the student to reexamine her results and imagine them having prepared at the number just above their reported effort. Ask her to predict how the results might have changed.
6. Suggest that the student set a goal to do a little better on their next test (or whatever mechanism reports results). Ask him if the next effort rating level would help him produce better work.
7. Commit to following up and checking in with the student to help her recognize how focusing on getting better is helping her attain better results.
I have had good success using this exercise and I hope you do too. If you do, feel free to either email me with your observations and suggestions. Of course, you can also leave a comment here as well.