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Helping People Tip Toward a Growth Mindset
It is really exciting to learn about the concept of a growth mindset at first; it makes so much sense! "Yes! When we believe we can improve, we take action to do so, and we get smarter - we change. It's so simple!"
Except it isn't. At some point, we find ourselves thinking, but wait a minute. If it's this simple, why is it that I know so many people who do not change at all? And how come, even when we share growth mindset concepts with some people, it does not seem to make any difference? What is going on here?
James is our colleague in Australia and this post was originally on his blog in June 2016.
Sometimes I'm asked, "James, what's your mindset? And I'm inclined to reply "Which one? I've got lots of them." But that's only partly true.
In Carol Dweck's research she often talks about a person's mindset, and it's easy to be misled into believing that people have just one. But that's not true. The research only reads that way because it's usually talking about a person's mindset in a particular context. In different contexts, we can have a completely different mindset.
Benjamin Marcovitz, Principal of Sci Academy and CEO of Collegiate Academies in New Orleans, LA, on what he does to assess teachers' mindsets when hiring
“This school is designed to move ninth graders, who average a fourth-grade level performance coming in, to the college level by graduation. We’re going to be asking them to grow at a rate you’ve probably never been asked to yourself. There’s no way we’re going to get away with this without being obsessed with our own growth as educators.”
In establishing a growth mindset at Sci Academy, I’ve found that being all about the kids means being all about the teachers. So I say the above to teacher applicants in their first interview. In doing so, we hope to ignite an application process that screens in the adults with the greatest growth-mindsets, increases that mindset, and politely shows the exit sign to those without it. Teachers need to view teaching as a process of constant improvement, and I find this tragically rare in a field where, if you’re not amazing at something in 2-3 years, you figure you should probably stop doing it. This is the opposite of what works at our school. Teachers at Sci Academy discover new avenues for great performance every day. They use them. The kids see this. They do the same.
So here’s our application process.
In this piece, excerpted from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) podcast, The Right Mindset for Success, Sarah Green interviews Carol Dweck about the leadership qualities that lead to successful efforts.