At St George's Technical High School in Middletown, Delaware, you will notice an intriguing awards wall in the main hallway leading to the cafeteria. At first glance, it might look like any typical awards wall, but this one is unique. Honored here are students who exhibit habits that show they have a growth mindset!
In a growth mindset, a learner believes that he or she can grow abilities and intelligence when exhibiting effort. Often those who exhibit a growth mindset take on challenges, learn from feedback and their mistakes, and use a lot of effective strategies to improve and learn. At St. Georges, Principal Shanta Reynolds said, "We wanted to celebrate kids for having a growth mindset - not just for academics."
Principal Reynolds and teacher leader Nick Schaefer worked together to organize this process. First, teacher leaders were asked to lead their PLCs (professional learning communities) in a brainstorm about what it means to be growth minded in their content-area. This led to an in depth discussion of which students exhibited these behaviors and what data th staff had to exemplify that.
Staff were encouraged to think about honoring students for their behaviors that suggested a growth mindset - not just looking at high-achieving students, but including those students too. After teachers identified the students to honor, the students were surprised with their plaques in the principal's office! Says Reynolds, "It was great to see the range of students who came through my office." And their pictures were posted on FaceBook and shared with their parents. The parents reported how happy thei were to see that their children were working hard in the afternoons on their studies.
Teachers benefited too! "A few teachers came up to me and said that they loved the process too and got a lot out of it," stated Reynolds. The staff were able to see how we can create very meaningful and motivating awards for students even when they are not "number 1."
"We are highlighting the productive struggle that the students need to have in each of these areas."
And the surrounding plaques detail the behaviors for which the students were being awarded.
The teacher leaders at St. Georges had participated in professional learning in conjunction with Schools That Lead and Mindset Works in the school year 2013-2014, learning about growth and fixed mindsets, how they affect achievement and what we can do in schools to foster a growth mindset. Those leaders were able to take what they learned and bring it back to their site to support student mindsets.
Principal Reynolds acknowledges, "It's a culture change. We hone in on the content but not that everlasting skill they take with them in life....definitely something we strive for and has been helpful for our students."
We are so proud of this SWAG! (School with a Growth Mindset)
What do you do at your school to honor and give credit to students for their perseverance, progress, and effort? Comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org