Today I led the second of our new breakfast ‘vision meetings’ – looking at how we can continue to embed a growth mindset across the school. These are voluntary meetings where members of our leadership team share their vision, for an aspect of work that they are responsible for, with a group of interested staff, who then give their input into how to best implement the vision. We’ve already done a great deal in terms of mindset and sharing excellence across the school – but we want to do more. So following a discussion on what we’ve achieved so far, based on the ideas from the three great books below, staff at the meeting were asked to think about how else we could develop this further.
As usual, when you put a group of school staff into a room together, they come up with some great ideas. They are listed below under the following categories:
- Expectation of excellence
- Be inspired by others
- Effort & mastery – perfect practice
- Respond to feedback
Expectation of Excellence
- Change the attitude from ‘cannot’ to ‘I can but not just yet’.
- Have challenging learning objectives for all – not all, most, some.
- No target grades below C – why expect failure?
- Don’t accept sub-standard work – hand it back and ask for it to be re-done.
- Have aspirational targets (not minimum expected targets).
- WOW walls around school / classrooms – state what we expect.
- Displays changed more often. Less displays but changed more often.
- More risk taking in lessons.
- More direct challenge and accountability for leaders.
- More people observing more people (peer obs).
- Find more ways for all students to experience pride in their work – if we only focus on an elite few, many will feel sidelined.
- Make incentives that are explicitly linked to effort. Proper prizes.
- Encourage students to set their own personal improvment targets.
- Do all staff know what excellence looks like in their subject?
- Are there examples of excellent work to inspire students, in every classroom?
- Develop the use of re-drafting more.
Be inspired by others
- Observation ‘tokens’ – two a year to observe colleagues.
- Celebrate and display examples of excellent student work.
- Mo Farah ‘Quorn’ advert – no secret, just train hard!
- Extend student support (peer mentoring).
- Promoting positive student role models across year groups.
- Photos / examples of success – in and out of school.
- Wider use of guest speakers – notable previous students etc. to inspire current students.
- A clean school with a smart team – show pride in the school.
- End of year prize-giving / celebration for all years with parents – make it a big deal like graduation.
- Student led assemblies.
- Make more use of external visitors from all walks of life.
- Past students visiting lessons – to deliver lessons and raise aspirations.
- Student led 15 minute forums for other students – on how to learn.
- Students to award other students for effort and hard work.
- Photos in foyer of student SLT.
- Wall of wonderment at front of school – excellent student achievement.
- New school photos for website.
- Staff photos for displays need updating. Use school photographer when he comes in in September.
- Use excellent students to teach parts of lessons.
- More voluntary community work – hospitals / care homes – feel inspired.
- All departments to take students on trips to places of inspiration or to see their subject in the ‘real world’.
- Without discussing personal information be ‘real’ to the students so they can see everyone has a journey.
Effort and mastery – perfect practice
- Plan work (spider diagram / mindmap / list) – 1st draft, peer / self-assessment – final draft.
- Avoid using phrases such as ‘Well done, you must be really talented’. Instead, praise them for the effort and hard work they must have put into mastering the idea or skill.
- Plan time in lessons for students to deliberately practice using their new knowledge and skills.
- Make sure that practice is perfect – spot any address misconceptions, errors etc.
- Return to ideas a few lessons down the line – keeps it topped up!
- Consider metacognitive strategies such as proof reading and redrafting.
- Awards – high profile to recognise amazing effort. Articles in the press?
- Making ‘kudos’ a good thing.
- In lessons – give students time to practice and improve.
- Always use the best example from within the class as part of feedback.
- Links with colleges and universities so students can see why it is important and to raise aspirations (transition to 6th form to be extended and improved).
Respond to feedback
- Encourage a culture where students / staff do not fear failure – we learn from our mistakes.
- Provide more opportunities in lessons for DIRT – enabling students to close the gap.
- Mark work in the lesson with the students – instant feedback and response.
- Use a range of feedback such as verbal, written, teacher, peer and self.
- Develop the technique of ‘gallery critique’.
- Using Padlet more in lessons to encourage feedback.
- Diary / review of progress in a subject. What have I learnt to do / how to improve on.
- Less marking of routine ‘notes’, more focused marking.
- Allowing students to talk to each other and discuss their work.
- Supporting students to understand failure is a part of learning and to not give up.
- Not to fear failure and therefore not try.
- Encourage to try, try, and try again and not to give up.
- Not helping students immediately when they ask for help – instead let them try to figure it out for themselves and embrace the struggle! Let them explain to you.
- Students who have successfully adopted a growth mindset to mentor students who do not have this.
- Make more use of nternet access in every classroom, then use either LearnPads / PCs/ mobile devices to allow students to look for answers themselves.
- Never accept ‘I can’t do it’ or ‘I don’t know’ – answer with ‘not yet’.
It was great to see so much discussion about such an important topic – with many great ideas coming forward. The next step is to consider how to action them. What became clear from the discussion was that if we are to truly embed a growth mindset, it needs to permeate everything we do. How we teach, how we lead, every conversation we have with students, colleagues and parents.
A ‘Mindset Manifesto’ might be a starting point……..