Educational leaders give lip service to a concept called growth mindset. It is brought up in PD sessions and teacher assessments. There is even a hashtag, #growthmindset, that is on Twitter.
Growth is defined as, the process of developing. Mindset is defined as the established set of attitudes. So growth mindset must mean to develop your attitudes, right?
How can leaders facilitate a growth mindset from a set of teachers within a district? First, leaders must examine their own set of attitudes and take responsibility for their own growth. Growing attitudes takes time and conscious work. It doesn’t happen overnight and certain behaviors can help facilitate growth among educators. Consider these five steps that leaders can embrace when moving people to different attitudes about learning in the classroom.
Model a growth mindset
As a leader, try new tools, read relevant books, and engage in critical conversations about growth. Talk about what you are reading, share new skills you are learning, or tweet out content you find valuable to your own learning. Use the hashtag #growthmindset in your tweets to reach an interested audience. If you aren’t learning something new, how can you expect others that you mentor to do the same?
If an educator comes to you with an idea, be a good listener. Too often fear guides decisions. The what if’s and worries get in the way. Instead, attempt to provide whatever support the teacher needs to make their ideas come to fruition. Who knows? You might learn something new in the process.
Focus on passion in the classroom and not the tests
It is a true statement that tests receive the most attention within the classroom despite the grade level. Let’s move away from testing as an end all and go with passion for learning instead. After all, if students don’t love learning, what is the point of school? Passion is where its at and genius hour is one great way to kick off some passionate learning in the classroom. Conversations needs to shift from, “What does your data look like?” to “What are your students engaged in learning about right now?”
Provide opportunities for growth
Seek out learning opportunities for teachers that might spark their passion for learning. Be open to ideas for conferences, twitter chats, MOOCs and collaboration. Provide interesting and engaging literature for teachers like Teach Like a Pirate or The Relevant Educator.
Allow teachers to take responsibility for their own learning.
Instead of providing professional development that is a sit and get model, provide more engaging and transformative PD in the form of collaborative spaces, big ideas, and teacher leaders. Professional development can and should be differentiated. We love using Google communities, Twitter, and Google docs for collaborative work spaces.
The gift of time is also critical for effective professional development. Learning can take the form of many different avenues and leaders should be open to all of them.
I love this post from Steve Anderson about creativity and a crisis in leadership. He states that “we all need to ensure kids have opportunities to learn, reflect, grow and follow their passions, through learning.” I believe educators have the same need and I believe educational leaders have the responsibility to support, model, and facilitate this need. Maybe then our lip service to a growth mindset can come to fruition.