Three schools had a whole school approach in which posters for the learning powers were created and displayed in school corridors. There is a termly focus on one power and achievement assemblies are linked to them. Children are now more reflective as learners and are using the language of learning. Mixed ability has helped the mindsets. Children have moved away from ‘I don’t get that’. They are more positive about challenging themselves and there is now a level playing field in the classroom – they know they can all reach some goal.
Four schools were using animals to characterise the learning powers and were extending the culture to the parents. Year 6 used names rather than animals and focus on the skills for each power rather than the characters. Two schools used the skills only rather than characters. Children are recognising key skills and taking ownership of their learning. The mindset of staff has been harder to change than the children’s.
Teachers had used various activities to decide children’s existing mindsets.
To baseline the mindsets of the children in my class, I set an open-ended maths challenge and told them to work with a partner to solve the problem. I stood back and watched with my TAs. It was very interesting to view the learning behaviours present and challenged my view of the learners.
After a while, I invited pupils to come and observe the rest of the class and comment on what they saw. They were able to see children displaying the growth mindset and fixed mindset behaviours (e.g. finding one solution then giving up and mucking about, or saying ‘I don’t know’ and leaving it up to a partner).
As a result, they began to question their own approach to the challenge and tried to change their behaviour when they returned to their work.
Vicky Trew, Ridgefield Primary
Teachers had introduced the mindsets with resources such as YouTube clips, such as Madge and Mildred, neurons connecting, looking at London taxi drivers’ brains research and talking about the British driving test. Children were very engaged and enjoyed learning the vocabulary about the brain and its working. Children realised they could train their brain to grow and had control of it. Displays were made throughout one school.
The celebrity ordering for intelligence tasks brought out different views of intelligence and one teacher used the famous failures YouTube clip to get children to guess who the people were. This challenged their perceptions of how success is achieved.
Using practicalsavvy.com some teachers were posting a mindset quote of the week in their classrooms for discussion.
It was felt that children in Y6 often found it hard to get out of a fixed mindset, as the SATs seem to limit them.
Teachers moved to praising effort not ability.
One teacher examined a reading text that children had done and talked about how to get better with practise. In a later test fewer children had unanswered questions. Some of the higher achievers who hadn’t attempted harder questions had answered them.
‘I can’t do it…YET’ had become the mantra in all schools and was having a big impact. In one school, the teachers had a sign up boards for children to sign up if they didn’t get something. Children self-assess to decide what they need and are praised for saying they need help.
In two schools a reward system was dropped with letters to parents to explain.
Children were now arranged in rows facing the front, which they all say they prefer.
Whole school assemblies had been used in one school to discuss the various learning powers, leading to all pupils and parents being aware of these. Children are beginning to talk about how the powers relate to their learning and a particular task.
Fiona Large | firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicola Parker | email@example.com