2013 Age 5-7: Y1/2 (K/1 Grade US) SLD (Severe Learning Difficulties) Feedback from Day 2

Kettle Moraine School District, Wisconsin

Children were given 3 mazes of varying difficulty to establish their current mindset. After discussing the mindsets effort increased immediately. Two characters were used to represent the mindsets and stories were told about them. Children use growth mindset language in lessons (e.g. ‘That’s being like Derek the Dragon.  You should give it a try’)

Children were also asked to think of something they think they would never be able to do. They discussed effort, time and input which led to increased effort in lessons.

Children are using the phrase ‘I don’t know YET’ when something is difficult.

Teachers have changed their praise language so that children are better able to recognise their own strengths and to see that their effort has made a difference.

Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Teachers had talked to children about the mindsets and given a questionnaire, resulting in most children having a positive mindset. However, it was felt that children knew the right thing to say, but didn’t always exhibit this in their learning.

When children used negative language, such as ‘I’m rubbish’, teachers corrected them using growth mindset phrases, focusing on effort and processes. It was noted that teaching assistants need more training and teachers need to keep modelling a growth mindset.

Some teachers looked at the brain and neurons connecting. One child said ‘I’ve had a new thought – my neurons are linking.’ There was a positive effect on self-esteem.

Two teachers gave children mazes to establish their current mindset, discussing their choices. Famous people had also been given to order for cleverness, resulting in lots of good discussion and a variety of outcomes.

Stories had been used for various learning powers, such as a duck on a truck for cooperation. This had encouraged children to work together.

Most teachers asked children to reflect at various points in the day on their successes and how that made them feel. Children were more proud, more confident, more focused and more willing to join in.

One teacher had used puppets to tell a story with ‘I can do it/I can’t do it’ as the theme. Children realised that they could be in charge of their own learning.

Children had also been given 5 minutes to think before sharing, which had spurred children on to try harder. More children were willing to take part in classroom discussion.

Teachers were using learning power language to praise children as they were dismissed (e.g. You worked so hard at your sewing even though you found it hard). Children are now looking to see if there is someone they can help. Andy Murray was used as an example of hard work in order to achieve success.

Parents still have fixed mindsets so there was a need to follow up with parents.


Children were set a maths investigation, pitched at quite a high level to identify which strategies and resources children used independently. After completing the task one child approached a teaching assistant saying ‘I was rubbish at that’.

The TA used a growth mindset approach and encouraged the child to realise that she had persevered and tried her best which was the main thing. She had attempted different ways throughout the session and was always working hard when observed. The child then came over to the class teacher and said ‘That was a tricky challenge’, using a more positive attitude and acknowledging that she had tried hard throughout and not given up.

Kettle Moraine School District, Wisconsin, USA

Patricia Deklotz | deklotsp@kmsd.edu

Kentucky, USA

Kim Zeidler | kim.zeidler@uky.edu

Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK

Mel Shackleton | headteacher@st-james-infant.kent.sch.uk