Taunton (+ secondary)
Children in 4 classes were asked what they thought about rewards and they said that they were unfair. Rewards were not removed throughout the school, however.
Two teachers surveyed their classes of Y3/4 about rewards and points. 99% of children liked rewards but not points and felt it was ok for children to receive praise for achievement instead. The teachers stopped giving house points and neither class have minded that they get no points compared to other classes. There was an issue that teaching assistants still give points.
Three teachers had changed the way in which points were given – giving them to all children or being much clearer. They have generally been receptive to the change.
Nine teachers had removed all comparative rewards, children are not missing them, behaviour has remained the same and children are more motivated. They feel that this is fairer. One child said ‘I want to achieve for myself – not get rewards. Some people work really hard for rewards whereas others just have to turn up.’ It was felt that positive feedback is more motivational than a system of rewards and makes teachers more focused on giving constructive feedback rather than deciding who should get a reward. The classes are more involved in learning. In one school children wanted to know if behaviour rewards/sanctions would be removed as well.
All teachers had removed ability groups and were sitting children in rows. There is now a willingness to have a go, it took away pre-judgement about ability, behaviour has improved and the teachers can move around the room more easily giving instant feedback. There has been greater impact on lower achievers being in mixed ability. Sitting in rows can lead to resourcing difficulties.
One teacher started random talk partners with a difficult class of 14 year olds, changing every 2 weeks, which created mixed ability. After initial questioning, there has been a very positive impact. They now all arrive asking if they are changing seats.
All teachers had introduced ‘marvellous mistakes’ which has led to children being less fearful and have really understood that error leads to learning something new. One teacher had pasted copies of the mistakes into a class big book which showed the mistake and the new learning. Children now don’t mind making mistakes and are building resilience.
One teacher taught the class some Chinese as a way of demonstrating challenge and not giving up.
My Y5/6 class designed some challenging tasks for a class of younger children after watching videos about growth mindset thinking and discussion. They came up with tasks such as learning numbers in Chinese or throwing a ball into a cup. They were growth mindset coaches and if the younger children said things like ‘I can’t do it’ they would reply with ‘yet…’ and ‘try this’ or ‘don’t worry – we have more time to practise’. This showed the power of these phrases and way of thinking and they commonly now use these phrases to each other after having become ‘teacher’
Sarah Williams – Wellsprings Primary
Another teacher showed his class a video of a skateboarder having difficulty…
We watched a video that showed skateboarder Johnny learning a new trick. It showed how he found it challenging and felt like giving up. Children wrote advice for him which is displayed in class and referred to when they find things challenging:
‘You only fail if you give up!’
‘You’ve done it! Let’s see if you can improve.’
Luke Jones – Wellsprings Primary
In one school learning powers were linked to the ‘weekly worker’ reward. Children are more reflective as the school council can nominate other children.
One teacher said that introducing learning powers had led to children becoming more reflective, taking greater responsibility and recognising the learning skills that are developing. She had dedicated a display of the learning powers which has led to children seeing all their metacognitive learning and feeling good about themselves.
Three schools were already using learning powers/Quigley’s ‘Secrets of Success’ which had motivated children.
Secondary teachers said they would start with new students in September introducing the learning powers, maybe in an assembly.
Most teachers had explained to the class how the brain works and were explicit in talking about this (e.g. ‘Are your neurons connecting?’) Higher, complacent achievers have pushed themselves to meet challenge and all are taking more ownership and responsibility for their learning.
The bullseye diagram of learning zones has started to help children regulate and think about their feelings about a task. Those who found learning easy were thinking about ways to challenge themselves. Modelling more for those who found it difficult helped.
Rewards had been removed in five classes after an honest and mature conversation about them. Children know how unfair it can be. They no longer compare themselves and are more focused on learning instead of moving up the behaviour chart etc. Inconsistent approaches across the school made this difficult for some teachers and classes..
One teacher talks to children lacking in self-efficacy about what they are skilled at and has helped them see that they can transfer skills used to be good at something (ballet and maths).
I introduced growth mindset using videos on YouTube which show the connections in the brain and a video where London taxi drivers discussed the practise and time they put into learning the streets (they have a slightly larger hippocampus in the brain than the rest of the population). The children were shocked and thoroughly thrilled to see the connections but it was empowering for all the class to listen to the cab drivers. Some boys in the class shared that their dads were cab drivers so felt empowered by the fact that their dads’ brains were growing! They felt encouraged to emulate this and I noticed they become less complacent in their learning and their attitude changed.
As well as this we created growth mindset characters based on themselves. Around the characters they wrote all the things they felt they could not do and over time we have discussed in PSHE or circle time how this can change. Now the children take out their character and tick off what they can do or they ask to change it or build on it so they can continue to improve. They even pick out growth mindset in other characters from books we have read so they are making connections. The characters have really helped to address any negativity or the ‘I can’t’ attitude. They now believe they can.
Yamini Patel – Fircroft Primary
Most had created learning power characters. Children are aware that they may not be able to do things yet but will be able to. They are seeing how far they’ve come.
Y5 children wrote the character stories and gave them to Y2. Children are aware of the learning vocabulary to describe their learning.
All teachers had used ‘marvellous mistakes’. Mistakes are expected and children know they learn from them. Higher achievers are ok to make mistakes but lower achievers are finding it more daunting. Adults modelled that they make mistakes too. Teachers were stopping the class throughout lessons to address mistakes. The power of ‘yet’ reduces anxiety and feeling overwhelmed.
One teacher did lessons from the Growth Mindset Lessons book (see publications page) which encouraged the use of talk partners rather than the teacher.
Lessons often started with a ‘what went wrong?’ question, then unpicking the mistake.
Most teachers had stopped giving rewards within their classes. One teacher had the class vote on who should get the assembly award. One problem was that other teachers in the school were still giving them to those classes. One teacher had the assembly award for the whole class discussing the successes of all children. One teacher said the children feel that their work is no good unless they get a sticker.
Two teachers had changed the language for mistakes: ‘I noticed you put …there. Can you tell me why?’ rather than saying it is wrong or a mistake. This had changed the belief of the students and they were becoming more confident. Also the term ‘happy accident’ had been used.
It was agreed that setting children has a major influence on how teachers feel about children’s ability to achieve.
Two teachers had introduced learning power characters but felt they were too babyish for Y5.