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Recently there have been some exciting discussions throughout education on the impact of trauma on students. While there is a wealth of research documenting the impact of trauma on a child’s health and ability to learn, there is often a lack of clarity about instructional strategies for teachers. Fortunately, mindset intervention research has consistently targeted those students most in need, with exciting success.
Maine Middle School teacher shares a growth mindset classroom moment.
One of the students in my special education class received the highest score possible on her mainstream health class test and was the only one to get a perfect score. She told me early in the year that she has "a third grade brain" and has "triple brain damage" due to traumatic events early in her life. Frequently, she was too discouraged to try anything she thought was going to be too hard. When she shared her great news about the test score, I asked her how she had accomplished such an impressive result. She let me know that she had studied really hard and that she could feel her dendrites growing. Then she shared a short song she had made up about learning and growing dendrites!
If you have a story to share, enter the Growth Minded Educator Contest this month!
"Some schools actually grade students on Growth Mindset and grit. At Lenox, it doesn't make it to report cards, but kids do get evaluated on it, by other kids."
Exciting news for growth mindset schools! Tovia Smith, NPR news correspondent, visited Lenox Academy, a school in Brooklyn teaching Brainology, and talked with students, teachers and administrator Joe Giamportone.
My co- teacher, Courtney Zaleski and I teach an inclusion 7th grade class. In order to set the stage for the year, we teach them that mistakes are not only OK, they are necessary:
Ask an adolescent how they feel about making mistakes and they will be very honest (sometimes brutally so). This year, on the first day of school, we asked our students to write down their thoughts on a post it note and compiled their responses on chart paper titled “making mistakes.” The students are then asked to stay and read their classmates’ comments. Words like “dumb,” “foolish,” “angry,” and “bad” were common responses.
No wonder so many kids don’t take academic risks. Who wants to feel like that?
As the students returned to their seats, we handed them each a personalized envelope. Inside, they found a pink eraser, a pencil with “Think Different” inscribed on it (“Think Different” is our class name), and a Maichin Welcome Back Letter. We asked them to open the envelope and read the letter silently.
Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a data driven decision making process to ensure schools educate the whole child. PBIS is an instructional approach to behavior that teaches students the soft skills of achievement such as persistence, respect, responsibility or other non cognitive skills. This emphasis on teaching student behavior can be a tool for schools to ensure students understand the importance effort in their learning and to grow student agency.
The PBIS framework and growth mindset programs go hand in hand. PBIS is based on the recognition that kids come to school with a range of needs and skills beyond academic skills. This framework empowers schools to identify their values and priorities in order to teach students the behaviors and social-emotional skills that will lead to greater academic success. PBIS is not a curriculum - rather it is a process that helps schools organize and coordinate nonacademic supports to make sure they educate the whole child. This framework aims to provide supports to students ranging from school-wide to individualized supports, depending on student need. The success of this framework has greatly improved the climate and behavior at schools across the country, with now over 20,000 schools implementing.
One criticism of the PBIS framework is a perceived focus on controlling students and preventing misbehavior.