External rewards had been taken away 3 years ago in one school which had been extremely successful. Pupils have higher expectations of themselves than before.
Mistakes had been turned into ‘wonderful struggles’ in one school.
There was an issue with one class doing something different to the rest of the school so the removal of ‘golden time’, for instance, had created a parent backlash.
Most teachers had introduced learning power characters as a learning ‘toolkit’. This was a whole school approach and was linked to a ‘recognition’ board on which children’s names were placed (discussed to transition now to verbal celebration of achievement or success rather than public ‘reward’). Parents had been included, had invested in this and parent engagement had improved.
Two teachers had introduced the learning dispositions without characters for older children. This created shared learning language and engaged the children.
Stories had also been written to link with each character. Pupils were engaged and, in one class, were encouraged to provide strategies for ‘Tough Tina’.
North Wales Team 1
One teacher had a picture of a brain with a grey side and a coloured side, which had helped children understand the difference between thinking and not thinking, asking ‘What kind of brain have you got at the moment?’
Teachers talked to children about how the brain works and one teacher gave stickers to show which power they had used, self-selected.
Three teachers had introduced the ‘learning pit’.
One school had an author in school to write stories for the learning powers. The stories make the children fully understand what is meant by the powers. In another school the children wrote the stories and shared with nursery children. The children associate the power with the traits of the characters. Three teachers had written the stories for the class.
One teacher is connecting the powers with learning objectives (split screen learning objective + learning power) which has given children depth in their understanding of using the power in a context. All teachers are revisiting the characters.
North Wales Team 2
All teachers have mixed ability with a choice of tasks. The children have a go and feel ok about making mistakes. They are now not boxed in and have more enthusiasm because of the choice.
Teachers in one school set up drawers with growth mindset activities and this has resulted in collaborative work. Children realise they are in competition only with themselves.
On YouTube Can Cyw-‘Dal ati’ translates to ‘keep at it’, which has shown the importance of the growth mindset merging with the Welsh language.
All teachers had introduced learning power characters and in one school Year 6 had written stories for the younger children. Five characters had been used in reception and Y1 and children have designed the. Teachers in this school were in the process of creating stories and a presentation about the characters was given to all staff. The children strive to be like the characters and know which one they are relating to. They know why they’ve succeeded in something and enjoy learning about them.
One parent in one school is an artist and he has been commissioned to design the characters, using objects which relate to the powers. Children are able to relate to the powers outside school and the characters are not too babyish, which means they will work throughout the school. One teacher said the children love the film ‘The Greatest Showman’, which has a song ‘This is me’ which has been used to create lyrics relating to the growth mindset. This has been welcomed by the children and completely engaged them.
In one school different characters were created for different age children. The characters are discussed constantly and children are keen to access the drawers area.
All teachers had introduced growth mindset thinking, with one teacher having a special growth mindset week. This was linked to Pooh Bear characters showing how to stretch and grow your brain. Children found out about how their minds and bodies work, they are drinking more water, they are feeling their neurons connect and fantastic mistakes are now in evidence. Problems children had with cursive handwriting were overcome by fantastic mistakes, allowing children to have a go.
Four teachers said it needed a drip feed approach.
All teachers had introduced fantastic mistakes, using appropriate language and modelling this. Children are encouraging each other, looking at each other’s mistakes and celebrating them.
Two teachers said the zones bullseye display was too complex for 4 and 5 year olds to understand.
I made a large brain model for the class, using split pins to show the neurons. We used wool to show how the neurons connected.
We also talked about how if we do not challenge ourselves the neurons would die (push split pins out). This was a very effective visual. Now children are always looking for ways to connect their neurons as no-one wants to kill them off!
This growth mindset thinking is now embedded as all the children talk about how their brain has grown and their neurons have connected. They even link this to the learning powers.
Kirsty Whitefriars – Primary Academy
One teacher used learning powers alongside existing school powers. Children enjoy the characters and links with success criteria.
Displays of learning powers made all children aware of them, but it was important to emphasise what the characters represent.