Sign up for our newsletter to become part of the conversation:
** Please enter a valid email to join our community **
Thank you for joing the Mindset Works Community! Check your email for more information.
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...
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.
Jill Balzer, Principal at Charles Patterson Middle School in Killeen, TX, on how Mindset transformed their school culture
Charles Patterson Middle School is located in Killeen, Texas which is also home to one of the largest military institutions in the world, Fort Hood. Our student population is diverse; 44% are Active Military, 40% are economically disadvantaged, 38% are African American, 31% White, 27% Hispanic, and 4% Asian/Pacific Islander. The wide array of social, cultural, and economic backgrounds provides the students and teachers at CPMS with unique opportunities. With this variety in life experiences and an annual mobility rate of over 40% comes the constant search by our staff to look for ways to improve the quality of our students’ lives. We believe that this is best accomplished by giving them tools that they will be able to take with them wherever they may go.
How did a public school increase their number of honor roll students by 15% in one year? In our August newsletter, Charles Patterson Middle School Principal Jill Balzer shared how her students had achieved significant improvements in test scores and academic abilities following the school-wide adoption of mindset practices and the implementation of the Brainology program.
Last month, Jill and her school were recognized by the Texas School Business Bragging Rights publication for the improvements they’ve made, which Jill attributes to their creation of a Growth Mindset school culture. Each year, this publication, which has over 25,000 readers, receives nominations from hundreds of schools so this is a great achievement. Please join us as we congratulate Jill Balzer and her teachers, staff and students for their hard work!
My former student David Yeager and I have been very concerned about violence in school. The problem in high school gets worse. People are shifting social groups; social labels are flying around, and kids are really stressed. If you add to this the common belief that people can’t change—that everyone is fixed in their roles and that you are always going to be picked on or always going to be a loser— then the conflagrations begin.
In other words, we realized that students’ beliefs play an important role in this. In our study, we saw that many students believe that people are just fixed. They believe that if you are a bully you’ll always be a bully and if you are a victim you’ll always be a victim. When these students are picked on, they feel like losers, ashamed of themselves, and they desire violent retaliation.
David Yeager created a training program that taught students a growth mindset, the idea that people’s behavior is due to thoughts and feelings that can be changed. Then we brought students into a situation where they were excluded and they had the opportunity to retaliate against the excluder. We showed that kids who have the growth mindset intervention were 40% less likely to retaliate and 2-3 times as likely to engage in pro-social behavior than students who did not receive the training. Furthermore, their teachers reported much improved conduct in the classroom, students’ attendance at school was better, and their suspensions were way down.