Yesterday we hosted our first ‘Mindset Conference’ at Durrington High School. As we continue to embed a growth mindset culture as a school, we have frequent requests from other schools to come and visit. This prompted us to put on this conference. It was a great day, and a real pleasure to host nearly 50 delegates from all over the country. As well as sharing what we have been doing as a school, it was fantastic to hear their stories too.
Headteacher Sue Marooney kicked off the day, sharing her thoughts on what a growth mindset meant to her. Sue has transformed our school in the 12 years that she has been head and epitomises the growth mindset – she outlined her formula for success:
- Know your values and moral purpose and live by them – what are your non-negotiables?
- Have high expectations of yourself, the students and your staff.
- Be relentless in your pursuit of excellence.
- Be resilient and see challenges as opportunities.
- Be open to learn and change – if it isn’t working, ditch it or change it.
- Havea genuine hope for the future.
Sue summed up her philosophy with the following quote:
“Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible”
The first presentation was by me. I shared how we have tried to embed growth mindset into everything we do as a school. Rather than falling into the ‘false growth mindset’ trap (there’s an excellent blog on this here by Sporticus), of thinking it’s just about posters and the odd assembly, we’ve tried to thread it through everything we do as a school and every strategic decision that we make. The more you think about mindset, the more it challenges many of our assumptions- and that’s what makes it so interesting. Are we there yet? Of course not! But we’re giving it a go. Here’s my powerpoint:
Next up was Emma Mason. Emma was sharing our approach to ‘Assessment Without Levels’. At DHS we’ve seen this as an opportunity to seize back assessment and make it purposeful. In the spirit of growth mindset, rather than focusing on a pre-determined end point i.e. a target level, we are focusing on their starting points and then using assessment to help all students aspire to excellence. You can read more here and view Emma’s powerpoint here:
The first session was concluded by Andy Tharby. Andy and I have been distilling the elements of great teaching down to six key principles – we’ve even written a book about it – ‘Making Every Lesson Count’. The six principles are:
We believe that they are the bedrock of great teaching, because they are based on research evidence and teacher wisdom – they also connect very nicely with the idea of cultivating a growth mindset. This has allowed us to adopt a ‘tight but loose’ approach to teaching as a school. By this we mean rather than having an overly prescriptive, checklist approach to teaching, we encourage teachers to be creative with these 6 principles – we don’t mind how they do them, but just do them really well! Andy’s powerpoint can be viewed here:
These presentations were followed by a number of workshops, led by our staff, on a variety of topics. Each of the workshops had common thread – how they have enabled us to embed a culture of growth and excellence at the school. The topics covered were:
- Becoming a research engaged school – Andy Tharby & Brian Marsh
- Teacher led CPD – Shaun Allison
- Leading a department – Kate Bloomfield
- A whole school approach to behaviour – Chris Woodcock
- IRIS supported lesson study – Martyn Simmonds
- Supporting the pupil premium – Kate Blight & Cathy Hughes
- The growth mindset teacher – Hannah Townsend
- Assessment without levels – subject case studies – Emma Mason, Ben Crocket & Jack Corbett.
The evaluations from the day were overwhelmingly positive – and we thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with like minded teachers. Thanks to everybody who attended.