Fourth-grade students at CV Starr have been doing a lot of thinking about the way they think. Students of Frank LaMorte, Michelle Marzziotti, and Kathryn Marchionno have been talking about growth versus fixed mindsets and designing presentations that help explain what that means to younger students.
Inspired by the book Mindset by Carol Dweck, the teachers presented information about the concept before the students became the teachers. Collaborating in small groups, they were given the task of communicating the meaning and importance of the terms to third-grade teachers and their classes.
“Growth means you never give up and you try your best,” Mia Stever explained.
“Fixed is when people say ‘I can’t do it, I’m quitting,’” Juliet Bryggman added.
Students gave colorful, interactive PowerPoint presentations. During one, the group asked their audience who had a growth mindset. When a few students didn’t raise their hands, one girl asked, “Why aren’t all of your hands up?” before explaining why it’s so important.
LaMorte was quick to remind students that we can all slip into a fixed mindset from time to time.
“It’s ok to have a fixed mindset once in a while,” he said. He went on to talk about how a few of them had gotten frustrated during a recent math lesson, lamenting that they “couldn’t get it.”
“We just want to be aware of it so that we can change it,” he said.
Students really seemed to take the lesson to heart, feeling passionate about spreading the importance of perseverance with others. Bryggman spoke about some of the third graders her team had worked with, saying “Some of them said they had a fixed mindset and I told them, ‘No you don’t. You just have to try!’ Now when we go to help in their class, we see them trying with their math and reading.”
Having a growth mindset can go hand-in-hand with developing perseverance, one of the critical skills that all Brewster High School graduates should master for success in the 21st century.