Last term we closed the school for a ‘Teachers Only Day’ on March 13th, to enable all our staff to attend a one day conference in Auckland. The theme of the day was ‘Teaching for Intelligent Mindsets’, exploring how a ‘ Growth Mindset’ as opposed to a ‘Fixed Mindset’ can invigorate students and adults alike to re- engage with learning, take on challenges and persist in the face of obstacles. Staff were fortunate to hear Professors Carol Dweck and Guy Claxton along with Jamie Fitzgerald as they shared ways to promote a ‘Growth Mindset’ in students, including ways of praising process not ability, strengthening neural connections and growing self belief.
This term we are focussing on developing ‘Growth Mindsets’ in our students, with a particular focus on the Maths Curriculum, where often students can bring to the classroom a ‘Fixed Mind Set ‘ of their own ability in Mathematics.
Research shared by Dr Jo Boaler from Stanford University has educators around the world examining effective mathematics teaching. As teachers our role is to encourage students to believe in themselves. There are different parts to this – first we need students to know that they can achieve at any math level, and there is no such thing as a ‘maths person’.We know the brain has great plasticity and that all students can achieve at the highest levels. Second we need them to have a “Growth Mindset” – believing that they can learn anything, and the more work they do the smarter they will get.
As parents you can significantly help grow your child’s mathematical self belief. Here are some useful tips for parents to help transform your child’s maths learning.
Encourage your child to play maths puzzles and games. (visit link: http://nzmaths.co.nz/families)
Always be encouraging and never tell children they are wrong when the are working on maths problems. Instead, find the logic in their thinking because there is always some logic to what the child says.
Never associate maths with speed. It is not important to work quickly, particularly in the younger years.
Avoid sharing with your children the idea that you were bad at maths at school or that you dislike it. Significant research has identified that when a mother shares that idea with their daughters achievement goes down.
Encourage ‘number sense’, i.e. composing and decomposing numbers. For example, when working out 29+ 56, if you take one from 56 and make it 30 + 55, it is much easier to work out.
Perhaps most important of all, encourage a growth mindset, ie the idea that ability and smartness change as you work and learn more. The opposite to this is a fixed mindset, where the idea is that ability is fixed and you can either do maths or you can’t.
For further information visit Professor Jo Boaler’s blog and website which contain informative articles and videos. http://joboaler.com/