Monaghan's Minutes

Challenge, Inspire, Empower, & Serve

Facing Student Apathy

Over and over again, I hear from each of you about the lack of effort, lack of care, lack of desire to do anything coming from your students. It's a problem I see every day, too. Students who can't even respond when you say, "Good morning!" or students who continuously do what they know they are not supposed to do. It's frustrating, but not unique to our school.

If we truly want to develop a school in which we can be proud, one where our students leave us prepared for the next level of education, we have to find a way to face student apathy and make a positive change. In my quest for addressing this problem, I've come across some research on building a growth mindset in our students. After reading more about it, I realize that, though it seems simple enough, many of our students do not possess growth mindset qualities.

From now until August, we will participate in a study on growth mindset and how you can implement small changes in your classroom to teach these qualities to your students.

What is a "Growth Mindset"?

A growth mindset is the belief that with practice, perseverance, and effort, people have limitless potential to learn and grow. People operating in the growth mindset tackle challenges without concern for making mistakes or being embarrassed, focusing in stead on the process of growth.

What is a "Fixed Mindset"?

A fixed mindset is the belief that we're born with a fixed amount of intelligence and ability. People operating in the fixed mindset are prone to avoiding challenges and failures, thereby robbing themselves of a life rich in experience and learning.
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Qualities of a Person with a Growth Mindset

* Sees things like intelligence or artistic abilities not as fixed traits but as qualities that can be changed and improved with time and effort.

* Believes that our successes are based on how much we are willing to learn, our effort, and our persistence towards those objectives.

* Does not buy into ideas such as there are "math people" or "creative people", but with hard work and perseverance anyone can succeed in any area.

* Views failure as opportunity for improvement.

* Understands that some people might have an aptitude for a certain skill, but with hard work and determination, anyone can find success in any one area.

* Believes that a person's true potential is unknown.

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Examples of Growth Mindset

Growth mindset can be seen in many individual stories. Take a minute to learn more about the people listed below.

* Wilma Rudolph - lost the use of her leg at 6 years old from a battle with scarlet fever and polio. Went on to win gold in the 1960 Rome Olympics.

* Rudy Ruettiger - had a dream to play football at the University of Notre Dame, but struggled academically due to dyslexia and wasn't the right body type to play football in such an elite program. Rudy worked hard, received rejection after rejection, and was eventually admitted into the prestigious university and onto the football's practice team.

* Sonia Sotomayor - grew up in the impoverished projects of the Bronx. Her mother was an orphan in Puerto Rico, her father had a 3rd grade education. She worked hard in school, battled through losing her father to alcoholism, and became a Supreme Court Justice.

* Marie Curie - born in Warsaw, Poland where women were not allowed to pursue higher education. Battled through personal risk to learn about math, chemistry, and physics and eventually became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize.

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Your Daily Mindset

Think about yourself. Do you exhibit a growth or fixed mindset? More likely, you exhibit both on a daily basis. This is a reminder that we have to be intentional about employing a growth mindset.

Remember to practice a growth mindset daily:

Challenges - Embraced, stemming from a desire to learn

Obstacles - Showing perseverance in the face of obstacles and setbacks

Effort - Doing hard work and putting in effort daily

Criticism - Provides an important feedback that can aid in learning

Success of Others - Use as a source of inspiration and education

Growth Mindset for Teachers

How can teachers practice using a growth mindset?

* During PD, listen with an open mind and seek out new ideas instead of sitting in the background working on something else or talking to the person next to you.

* When a parent is driving you crazy, think: This parent is very invested, I need to find a way to communicate with him/her productively.

* When a student is struggling, think: How can I present the information so the student can understand?

* When a student is advanced, think: How can I develop enrichment opportunities so this student feels sufficiently challenged?

* Is there a teacher you admire and find to be strong? Ask him/her to mentor you or sit for coffee to get ideas.

* Ask: How can I make my lessons more engaging for my students?

* Do you have a negative student? Ask: how can I use this student's interests and passions to engage him/her?

* Believe that all students can and will succeed.

A Growth Mindset Teacher has the ability to positively influence student performance!

Can teaching "Growth Mindset" Fix Apathy in our School?

Along with a strong curriculum, teaching our students to have a growth mindset can help!

* Students need to believe that working hard can allow them to achieve success in their school work.

-And -

* Students have a right to engaging, valuable, meaningful lessons.

This way of thinking allows students to put aside fear of failure or looking stupid and focus on learning. We have to remove the false limitations they've put on themselves by modeling and coaching growth mindset in a way that inspires our students to see their own potential.

How can I start developing a growth mindset in my classroom?

Start with a small goal.

1. Learn one new thing about each of your students' hobbies or interests.

2. Focus on building relationships with your students.

3. Choose a time to one-on-one conference with each student in your class. Ask how their year is going, what do they find easy, what do they find hard, what do they wish they could change? This should just be about building relationships and not necessarily anything academically related.

4. Try to incorporate some of this new information into a lesson. Try "basketball math" to practice new math skills. Allow students to perform a readers theater to incorporate students love for acting, etc.

5. Make a vow to demonstrate your own growth mindset in class. Talk to your students about something that is hard for you and how you plan to persevere at it.

Activity: Your best/worst Teachers

Think about your best/worst teachers. Not necessarily your favorite or least favorite, but the best teaching and worst teaching you experienced in your own educational career. Think about the teacher who pushed you, who saw your potential, who made learning fun, even though they had high expectations for you.

Now, answer:

The reasons why ______________________ was my best teacher:





The reasons why _______________________ was my worst teacher:




Looking at your list, can you identify any growth mindset or fixed mindset practices in your best/worst teachers? List them....

Looking at your own teaching, being completely honest with yourself, do you possess any of the same qualities as either of these teachers? If so, which qualities? Are they fixed or growth mindset?

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St. Patrick School

The mission of St. Patrick School is to develop young men and women with active and creative minds, a sense of understanding and compassion for others, and the courage to act on their beliefs. We stress the total development of each child: spiritual, moral, intellectual, social, emotional, and physical. Encouragement is given to students to bring their lives into conformity with God's will and plan, so that He is glorified.