Monday , 11 December 2017
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Developing a Growth Mindset

Newton-Conover City Schools is committed to providing a well-rounded curriculum that prepares our students to be successful, to developing strong community partnerships, and to ensuring quality educational opportunities for all students.  During the first semester of this school year, we have talked with business leaders, community members, parents, and teachers to determine what is important for our students in order for them to be successful beyond high school. The common theme expressed is the importance of a strong work ethic and the ability to persevere when challenged.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I just don’t do math,” or “I am not good at reading?” These responses often stem from a belief that intelligence is something you are born with that cannot be changed. This is a “fixed mindset” regarding the potential to be smart, and it provides excuses for not persevering when challenged. An individual can simply say “I can’t do math, so I am not going to try.”  In Newton-Conover City Schools, we are striving to help students develop a “growth mindset.” The “growth mindset” views intelligence as something that can be developed through hard work, perseverance, and good teaching. Students who have a growth mindset have better results in school, are more resilient, and can deal with obstacles and challenges more effectively. In other words, they are better prepared to persevere and work through challenging situations in order to achieve a goal.growth mindset

We want to help our students develop this growth mindset – to believe that effort matters and that failure is part of the learning process. A classroom view of the growth mindset ensures that teachers ask students if they have submitted their best work, and if not, they ask the students to work harder and resubmit the assignment. A growth mindset also has implications for something as common as how we compliment and praise our kids. Sometimes the praise we provide can actually reinforce a fixed mindset. Saying, “You’re so smart,” or “You did that so easily,” may actually give students the idea that being smart is something you are or you are not. It is important to enforce the notion that being “smart” takes effort, practice, and hard work. More effective praise reinforces effort and helps students to embrace learning and growth.  By sharing with students specific examples of their effort or achievement, we praise them for their perseverance and their ability to overcome obstacles.  Examples of such compliments are,  “Wow, your writing really provides a lot of detail!” “Congratulations on your hard work and effort on this project.” Or, “I like the way you tried lots of strategies on that problem until you finally got it.”

In the vision that we have developed for Newton-Conover City Schools, we refer to our students graduating from Newton-Conover or Discovery High Schools with the academic skills, knowledge, and mindset necessary to succeed in college and careers. We believe that a growth mindset supports our vision by emphasizing the importance of a strong work ethic and perseverance when challenged.

We would like to thank our business leaders, community members, parents, and teachers for being partners in our students’ education and for supporting our goal of instilling a growth mindset in all students. We look forward to providing opportunities for our students to develop these important skills that ensure their future success.

 

About Heather Mullins

Heather Mullins is the Chief Academic Officer in Newton-Conover City Schools. She is a North Carolina Teaching Fellow who spent 12 years as a high school English Teacher. She received her B.S.Ed. in Secondary English Education from Western Carolina University. Heather completed her National Board Certification in Adolescent Young Adult English Language Arts in 2002. She holds an M.Ed. in Academically and Intellectually Gifted from UNC-Charlotte. Heather has served as a Curriculum Specialist in Hickory City Schools, an adjunct professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University, and a Professional Development Consultant for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. She completed her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership through Western Carolina University. Heather is one of the co-founders of #NCed Chat, North Carolina’s first Twitter chat for teachers. She is passionate about innovative practices, instructional technology, student ownership of learning, and supporting teachers. Heather serves on the advisory board for the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan, North Carolina School for the Deaf and Catawba Science Center. She is a recipient of the 2015 NCMLE Central Office Administrator to Watch Award. She also received the 2016 Don Chalker Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership. Heather is the proud mother of one son, Jackson.

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