Mindsets in the Classroom - Chapter 5


 As a fourth grader I remember my teacher putting me down for not solving long division math problems the same way as she explained. She put me down because I was thinking in a different way.  I had "failed" to solve the math concept correctly. I lost all confidence in myself, my math thinking, and my love of learning was lost. From that point on I struggled in math. It wasn't because I wasn't smart, it was because I was scared of making mistakes. 

I'm so happy I was able to read and reflect on chapter 5 of Mindsets in the Classroom. It has helped me reflect on my own teaching. I ask myself, "In my classroom, is failure a reward?" I love how Mary Cay Ricci explains, "Failure can be a reward, for it is through failure that we can learn the most."  Unlike my 4th grade teacher, I hope all teachers can remember this simple yet important skill.


Later in the chapter Mary Cay Ricci states, "The way we respond to failure depends on our mindset. When we believe intelligence is malleable, then we realize when we make a mistake - when we fail - we need to approach the task differently and/or put more effort into it." This is important for teachers to foster the love of learning in all students no matter their academic level and let them learn from their mistakes or failures because all students will have them. 

Our world would be a different place if many important people didn't learn from their failures and keep trying. I wonder what it would be like if Steve Jobs quit after failure? Walt Disney was faced with many obstacles but he kept moving forward because like he said, "Around here, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things because we're curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down paths." 

We must teach students how to respond to failure. Teachers must create a classroom environment that welcomes failures. We as educators should teach students that failure is celebrated. Because it's through failure that we become successful. Success doesn't come easily and we must fail first. 

Motivation should be given as intrinsic rewards (personal satisfaction). Extrinsic rewards such as prizes, money, and certificates have many flaws. These rewards can extinguish student creativity and foster short-term thinking. Many students stop once they reach a goal or prize. I think of the example of reading in my classroom. Once a child has read their goal for the quarter, they often times think they don't have to read anymore. So how can you use motivation correctly in your classroom to foster life long learning and success? 




I'd like you to take a moment to reflect on your own teaching. How will you celebrate failure this next school year? How are you going to keep your students engaged and excited about learning and trying new things? 

Thanks for following along with our book study this month. I know I am learning so much from this idea of Mindsets in the Classroom. I can't wait to get back into my 2nd grade classroom and give it a try or perfect what I'm doing already!

-Ashlyn from The Creative Classroom

22 comments :

  1. Great post Ashlyn. Failure is a big part of life and we need to teach our students how to learn from all their experiences. I also like the emphasis on intrinsic motivation. I think Mary Cay Ricci has wonderful insights on how to prepare students for the real world.
    Debbie

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  2. I love your images with the little boy! He's super cute! I love the idea of coming up with another idea of what to do once our students reach their AR goals for the term! Time to start thinking of how to instill the love of reading and not the love of AR goals. :)

    Mrs. 3rd Grade 

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  3. Your graphics are soooooo dang cute! This chapter was so energizing to me! Imagine a classroom of students who appreciate failure. The possibilities of success would be astonishing. :D I'm so excited to read deeper into this book. So motivating! So thankful you hosted this book study!

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  4. Chapter 5: I use lots of motivation within my classroom. I do believe that their should be a balance between intrinsic rewards and extrinsic rewards. I have students who the only motivator is extrinsic rewards. What do you do in that situation? Mostly extrinsic rewards are used for modifying a behavior or attitude, and rewarding the desired behavior for behavior modification. However, I also use showing their data graphs to them to see how much they've improved and they like that too. So I disagree a little with this chapter that motivation should be all intrinsic rewards, I believe it should be a balance between the two.

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  5. I try to encourage my students when they get the wrong answer or when they fail to answer a question correctly. I always tell them that it is "OK, and that when we fail we learn the most". But, I noticed with my class this past year, even with me trying to make it OK, several of them were still mortified when they failed. I had several that would cry when I tried to correct them and show them where they went wrong. It was very hard and frustrating to help these students because they took it so personally. I tried to explain to them that it was my job to teach them and show them how to correct their errors. Next year I would really like to discuss famous people that they know and how those people dealt with failure and how those failures eventually lead to success.

    As far a a rewards system I do agree with Heather that there needs to be a balance, especially with the younger kids. I know they thrive on praise and being recognized for doing great work and putting forth great effort, but the occasional extrinsic reward goes a long way. I do think that that they need to learn that their actions and behaviors will affect whether they are successful or they fail. Too many times we want to blame outside forces (especially when there is a negative outcome)for things we have done. When really it was our own actions and behaviors that caused the outcome.

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  6. In Chapter 5, I love the emphasis on letting students know that it is ok to fail! Teaching students to reflect on their own mistakes and to put forth effort in finding a new way to solve the problem is the key! This is true for us as adults too!!!

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  7. On page 57, the author noted that students who are from culturally, linguistically, or ethnically diverse populations, SPED students, or behavior students are often not provided with rigorous instructional opportunities. This caused me to evaluate my teaching and YES I am guilty. Being in a FIXED mindset, caused me to maybe not stretch the students critical thinking or rigorous expectations. I want to continue to be very mindful of this as I work with students because this mindset is so impactful to how the child views himself/herself and contributes to the child's mindset.

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  8. I thought a lot about how this chapter specifically aligns perfectly with our TEAM rubric in three specific indicators. Our expectations of students and the action of creating a learning environment where mistakes are seen as learning opportunities is so important for student success. This idea also directly relates to developing a respectful culture. Finally, this chapter specifically covers motivation of students. My favorite quote on motivation was, "Our goal is to encourage students to internalize the belief that their own actions and behaviors, not external factors, guide them to achievement or failure". This shows that motivation can be taught/encouraged-- I often hear that the students aren't motivated...but it is our goal to show them how to be motivated using internal factors. I love that Walt Disney said that we keep moving forward and that this was the key theme in Meet the Robinsons (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWtRadR4zYM).

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  9. I agree that the typical middle to upper class student may not have had challenges/failures to face and grow from compared to other students. The idea that we can reframe a student's outlook on failures is exciting. Michael Jordan is a great role model for this type of thinking...failure is just information on what to try differently next time.

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  10. This was my favorite chapter. I try and create a classroom culture where my students are not afraid to try. They come to know firsthand that they "learn from their mistakes." I tell them that seeing the mistake they made will help them remember not to make that mistake again and that they will probably "catch" themselves if they start to make the same mistake again. Instead of feeling defeated when making a mistake I want my students to get excited that they see the thought process that led them to their mistake. I was that student who quit trying because my mistakes defeated me.

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  11. This chapter really excited me about the changes that I can make and the continued effort for things that I already do in my classroom. I had a similar situation to the story about the fourth grade teacher and feeling defeated about long division. The day of the long division test was the only day in my life that I faked sick. I knew I was not ready and I was so afraid of failure. On that day though, my mom taught me a very valuable lesson. She wrote a bunch of long division problems, because she was smarter than I was and knew why I was "sick". She left me in my room for hours, checking on my progress every once in awhile, until I finally realized that I did not how to solve the problems. I just solved them differently than my teacher had shown me. This experience really shaped me as a learner and I knew that even though I struggled with math all through school, I believed that with enough practice and perserverance I could solve any problem. This is a story I share with my students every year to illustrate the idea of not giving up or being afraid to admit that you don't understand a certain skill YET.

    I try to help students understand that failure is part of the process of learning. One way that I have done this in the past and will continue is through accountable talk. Students know that if they answered or solved something that they need to be ready to justify it to a partner or me. In doing this, they have so many opportunities to teach a friend or to be taught by a friend.

    I am a big believer in teaching intrinsic motivation. I have a hard time justifying rewarding through extrinsic motivation, because I feel like it shifts the goals of students. For example, I want them to see the reward of practicing their multiplication facts is that it makes their next challenge, like division, easier. I have seen way too often that students really just want the prize and do lose that love of learning to the feeling of getting ahead or mastering a skill before someone else does or being able to say they have more AR points. I think that having data notebooks for students to challenge themselves without competing with others is a way that I can help students be intrinsically motivated and hopefully preserve their love of learning.

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    1. Jessica, this is such a positive way to look at learning and the use of data notebooks to build intrinsic motivation.

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  12. I believe one of the most important ways teachers can begin a school year is to start by creating a trusting classroom climate, where students begin to feel comfortable enough to take risks, try something new, and not have a fear of failure. It takes time and effort from the teacher and the entire class to create an atmosphere of trust.
    During the last two months of school, I had my class track their progress on mixed multiplication quizzes. Each child had a folder and after each quiz was handed back to them, they graphed how many problems were correct. Most students were intrinsically motivated to either maintain or improve their score. It was gratifying to see children who were motivated simply by their own score. It was hard to see children who were unhappy with their scores though. At that time, it was a great moment to personally conference with those children and create a plan to put in action before our next quiz. Failure is part of the learning process and is important to reflect and keep moving forward.

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  13. "For it is through failure that we can learn the most." Let that simmer for just a moment. I am that person, failure. However, once I hit my young adult years I learned to use my failures as a reward. Learn from them and push forward, and I so forever grateful I learned to do just that. Page 68, "The way we respond to failures and mistakes depends on our mindset." We must learn from our failures and change what we did and try again. If we all had fixed mindsets we would all live in a very messed up world, well worse than what it is. The ones who never gave up, even at their all time lows created great examples for people like myself, and our students. I love that the author states, "learning to embrace failure is hardly easy; however, once again, if students learn more about their brain and how it works, failure is an easier pill to swallow."

    I love, love, love the last paragraph on page 69: teachers develop a climate in their classroom where failure is celebrated and students learn to reflect and redirect so that they can approach a challenging task in a new way or with more effort. The quote from Walt Disney is great, and I'm thinking about posting that somewhere in the portable for all students to see on a daily basis, possibly in the hallway. "Curiosity keeps leading us down new paths"....so true!!

    Motivation is a very important word!! I think motivation starts with the teacher. If the teacher isn't excited about his/her students, or the curriculum he/she is teaching...how do you think the students are going to feel? Motivation starts with the teacher. If she is excited more than likely her students will be excited. They want to share that experience with their teacher. They want to be just as excited, I've seen this time and time again, in my classroom. When I'm excited and I am having fun with them, they are learning and having just as much fun...they are motivated to make me happy because in the end its their success story, even if they fail multiple times, it is OK.

    There are two different types of rewards and I like to utilize both of them in my classroom, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic is the personal satisfaction a person feels when something is accomplished. Extrinsic is outside incentives provided to a person by another individual or source, such as money, certificates, or prizes. I'm not sure I completely agree with this, simply because I have watched my students become very successful when utilizing both types of rewards and not strictly sticking to one type of rewards. I have watched them critique themselves when they did not get the score they wanted and strive to do better, without candy or another type of reward being offered. I have also watched them exceed expectations when a reward is offered and not stopping at the expectation level, but going beyond expectations. For my classroom, I still plan on utilizing both intrinsic and extrinsic.

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    1. You will love the Meet the Robinsons video clip!

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  14. I think the rewards are beneficial only if we truly change their way of thinking when it comes to failure. I often tell my students when they fail or get it wrong its a celebration, because that means I get to do my job. If they are a bunch of know-it-alls then I wont have anyone to teach. I need them to mess up, make errors, or not know something. Thats why we have school, so they can be taught. I also ask them, how am I supposed to know if you truly know something, or I taught the lesson to my best abilities if they know it all. I need them to make mistakes. I would be out of a job if we had a bunch of know it alls. They usually laugh and it sets the tone that hey it truly is ok and Mrs. Tucker doesn't know it all either. I tell them I make mistakes as a teacher, a parent, and as a human being.

    We can embrace our mistakes together and move forward. Usually after this conversation at the beginning of the year, there's always that one student that says..."It's not a mistake to try, but a mistake to not try at all." I love it!!! I usually encourage someone to raise their hand and give a wrong a answer, they laugh, and then I continue to explain that I get to keep on teaching. I usually try to make it fun when there are mistakes made, because it is a learning experience. That is why they are in school. They are there to learn, not just important stuff in books, but life skills (what to do when they make a mistake). This all goes back to problem solving and critical thinking too, now what? How are we going to fix this and make it better, or do it better? This is my favorite part of education...seeing them fail and then seeing a HUGE success story come from it!!!

    One way teachers can help students reflect on failure it to introduce them to a more positive outlook on failure, perhaps by sharing others' attitudes toward failure.

    Failures are often times the biggest SUCCESS stories, trust me, I've been there!

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  15. It's so very important at the beginning of the school year to really lay the groundwork for a safe and supportive classroom community. I explain to my students that for this school year myself and the kids around them are their 5th grade family, not class. We are in this together, for better and worse. Through arguments, laughter, drama, learning, growing, succeeding and failing. When you allow students to feel safe and comfortable in their environment failing doesn't seem like such an awful thing. Trying new things and succeeding or failing at them are both equally fantastic!
    We can celebrate the effort put in. The new ideas that came about by someone voicing theirs (whether it was right or not).

    I plan on sharing the stories of well known people who have faced many failures in their lives before they were well known. Real, concrete examples are such great ways to help students understand that failure is not bad. That we learn a lot when we fail. It may not be the most pleasant thing in the world to experience but it's an experience non the less.

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  16. Oh my...... Lightbulb or hit the forehead... How often have I said that it is ok to make a mistake as long as you fix it and learn from it. Or it is ok to make an error on that story just keep writing it can be fixed later. And of course ... No one is perfect just keep trying! Well reading pg 68 "When we truly believe that intelligence is malleable...." All my phrases, encouragements, and quotes are empty words if a student does NOT believe his/her intelligence is actually able to change and grow. Must EDUCATE possibility prior to failure/mistakes are opportunities to learn. Aha! Lol

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  17. This chapter supports one of my favorite saying that I have probably said hundreds of times when students mess things up, "that why there are pencils on erasers, mistakes are expected:)" It seems I have spent a lifetime encouraging students to take responsibility -- I can't wait to be in a school where "our goal is to encourage students to internalize the belief that their own actions and behaviors, not external factors guide them to achievement or failure." When teaching about the choices and the choice of our attitude it is important to ask students, "how do you want to fix this?"

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  18. I love the pictures above! I know I say this a lot in my classroom - its okay to make mistakes in this classroom we learn the most from our mistakes. I always share a personal story with my class at the beginning of the year of one of my struggles. 1st graders have a misconception that their teacher or any adult for that matter knows everything, and I feel that's a little intimidating to them. Some children I've taught over the years are so afraid to be wrong or make mistake. We never know how mistakes are viewed and handled at home. So by sharing a personal story I think it helps students realize I /teachers don't know everything and that's okay! I feel once that know they are in a safe place that allows mistakes they can bloom.

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  19. Getting the students to really understand that its okay to make mistakes, we just have to learn from them is something I'm trying to get across more. I love the quote from Michael Jordan, and I remember in middle school doing a research paper on Thomas Alva Edison and his discovery of the light bulb. When trying to find a material that wouldn't burn up easily he states, 'I have not failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that will not work.' And to think that if he hadn't continued we wouldn't have his invention of the light bulb...He has several other quotes that go along these lines, 'Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close to success they were when they gave up.' 'Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed to always try just one more time.'

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  20. Nikki, I agree. I've said the same thing to students. Mistakes are fine, there's no wrong answer, etc. However, I have failed with rewards. I want to really focus on this...we extinguish student creativity and foster short-term thinking, when students are promised a reward. INTRINSIC vs. EXTRINSIC. I really don't want my students to rely on prizes or certificates. I want my children and students to feel a personal satisfaction without a predetermined goal. How do I do this?

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