Carol Dweck, the researcher behind the growth mindset movement, was recently quoted discussing common misconceptions of her theory.
“It’s not about educators giving a mindset lecture or putting up a poster – it’s about embodying it in all their practices.”
So how can we authentically embed growth mindset theory in our language teaching practice?
The first way I do this is via the “Ask your senpai” column in the Jblog textbooks. This is based on an advice column text type where someone writes in with a problem they have experienced understanding the linguistic or cultural perspective of others. This column models the growth mindset ideal of learning from your mistakes as well as intercultural competence development. It teaches the students that it is natural to be confused by unfamiliar concepts or events, and that others may have other opinions or ways of handling an issue. The column is a regular feature in each chapter of the 3 textbooks so it is an embedded strategy that teachers do not need to force awkwardly into their program.
The second strategy that I have found successful is the Hiragana and Katakana Patch systems. We have divided the learning of hiragana and katakana into 15 levels. Each level focuses on an aspect of the script. For example level 1 focuses on the a, k and s sounds; Level 7 the tentens that work with the k and s sounds; Level 10 the use of small tsu. We have created a work book for students that allows them to practice those letters and a set of flashcards to revise with.
When the students are ready, they challenge themselves with the matching quiz for that level. The teacher prints off the quizzes and keeps them ready in a folder or filing cabinet. There are teacher marking guidelines to make the marking quick for the teacher or you could have peers mark the quiz for you, using the guidelines. The teacher just needs to keep a record of which levels the student has passed. Each quiz tests the students’ skills in both reading and writing the script. The pass mark for each level is 75%. Students are allowed to take the quizzes as many times as they need to. They should be encouraged to progress through the levels at the rate that best suits them. Failing a quiz should be seen as part of the process and teachers are encouraged to comment on really well-written letters, even if the student does not attain the required 75% to progress.
Each quiz includes a growth mindset quote to help keep the students in a positive mindset as they challenge themselves. Deliberate growth mindset language has also been selected for the wording of the quizzes. You will notice at the end of the quiz, teachers tick whether the student is allowed to progress from one of two options:
- This student is ready to progress to level 2
- This student is ready to retry level 1 after further review and practice
The emphasis is on the student mastering the learning process and the content as a result. There are 3 certificates of progress that can be used as part of the system. These acknowledge a student’s achievement of 5 levels. (There is more information about this system available at : https://www.mantenresources.com.au/resources-teaching-scripts/ )
Growth mindset strategies can make a real difference to your students’ learning outcomes. The key is finding authentic resources and learning tasks that are a natural fit for your teaching program.