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Based on Silver's new book, Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8: Teaching Kids to Succeed
“You are not the boss of me!” “You can’t tell me what to do!” “I want to do it my way!” These are age-old proclamations from young people who want to declare their independence. Edward Deci and Richard Ryan (Deci, 1995), founders of self-determination theory, believe that autonomy, competence, and relatedness are essential in helping children to become self-actualized individuals. The concept of autonomy is particularly worth exploring because it not only helps build a growth mindset, but it also helps to instill a healthy sense of independence in kids.
Children perceive their circumstances as either autonomous or as controlled. With a perception of autonomy, individuals are willing to do what they are doing and embrace the activity with a sense of interest and commitment. If the situation is perceived as controlling, they will act without a sense of personal endorsement; they feel manipulated. Autonomy does not necessarily mean that one has strictly to “go it alone,” but rather it means that one is acting with a sense of choice and volition. This can happen simultaneously while one is enjoying interdependence with others.
5 Tips on Promoting Autonomy in Learners
We are excited to announce our winner of last month's Growth Minded Educator Contest: Growing Sound!
Growing Sound is an affiliate of Children, Inc., a large non-profit provider of early education and out-of-school programs based in Covington, Kentucky. Growing Sound develops music and related products that translate key findings from recent child development research into practical and entertaining products for teachers, parents and children. Recently Growing Sound published a 13 song CD entitled "Tough Stuff" based on Dr. Dweck's work on mindsets and other work on mastery motivation. The title song, "Tough Stuff" encourages children to seek out challenging tasks. Another song, "Sometimes It Takes A Few Mistakes", helps children develop a growth mindset by associating mistakes with learning rather than failure. "I Keep On Going" urges persistence on task in the face of challenges. Another theme emphasized in the CD is the importance of reinforcing effort. The songs were created by award-winning songwriter David Kisor and the Growing Sound Research team. You can hear the title song "Tough Stuff" by downloading the free MP3 file from the link below.
Despite our best efforts as educators and parents, many students still underperform or struggle academically. Most teachers observe that their students would succeed if only they would invest more effort in their work. In some cases, we see a grave lack of student engagement leading to classroom management challenges, low student achievement, and high drop-out rates.
While some studies cite boredom and disinterest as the cause of these problems, perhaps they are actually symptoms of a broader issue: lack of motivation. Numerous studies have shown that, as student motivation goes up, so do effort and student achievement, in both short and long term situations. In addition, attention, which is a scarce resource in most classrooms, has also been proven to increase with kids’ motivation levels. As we empower students to increase their own ability to focus and apply effort, we witness them becoming better able to process relevant information, which impacts their ability to succeed academically. This, in turn, will set the foundation for an intrinsic love of learning, by teaching students to value their own progress and growth.
Here are three techniques you can use to increase students' motivation:
Watch Video of Growth Mindset Middle School-ers in Action!
Music Director, Julie Ahlborn is putting growth mindset into action!
At Reagan Academy middle school in Springville, UT, her students enter her orchestra class with only a cursory knowledge of sight reading music. She wanted them to see how much they grow in one year so that they will be motivated to continue their music studies, becoming lifelong musicians.
Julie says, "To play a musical instrument takes a lot of practice for muscle and mind memory to grow and develop. Many people find practicing a challenging task." Julie blends growth mindset research with her teaching practices fluidly to cultivate a growth mindset in orchestra and motivate students to practice. And she creates videos (below) to document the students' growth! How does she do this?
Here are a few things she described to us...
It’s a label that more and more of our children are living with… Students with Disabilities. More recently, this label has given me great pause. As an educator and as a father of a six-year-old, I feel the term immediately puts a child at a huge disadvantage. Instead of focusing on a child’s abilities and celebrating a child’s gifts, it raises doubt about what a child is able to do and automatically assumes that a child cannot do something. Instead of embracing a growth mindset, it puts all of us in a fixed mindset. So, how can we overcome this?
Looking Beyond the Classroom
If you observe a group of students in a traditional classroom setting, chances are it wouldn’t take you very long to see which students are struggling. Chances are those students have been labeled as learning disabled, and chances are those students have accepted this label, which seems like a permanent tattoo. Yet, when you observe this same group of students in the art room, music room, gymnasium, computer lab, etc., that permanent tattoo seems to magically disappear. Many of the students who were struggling in the “traditional” classroom shine in other subject areas. If only all subject areas were equally valued and rewarded.