February was “Growth Mindset Challenge” month at Mayfield Junior School. Since report cards went home at the end of January, February seemed an ideal time to renew our efforts to support growth mindsets.
Lower School Director, Laura Kennedy, asked each teacher to read “Mindsets in the Classroom” by Mary Cay Ricci, and to share practical strategies they used with students on the school LMS, Schoology, throughout the month.
After an impressive sharing of lessons and activities, students and teachers alike are abuzz with new knowledge. Many teachers used the book “Your Fantastic Elastic Brain” by JoAnn Deak as a starting point. Lessons focused on the student’s power to be a “neurosculptor,” stretching and strengthening their brains. One teacher used barbells to help compare the brain to a muscle.
Another teacher used string, yarn and rope to illustrate how stronger neural pathways are built through processing new information. These visual lessons really connected. One second grader, proud to remember a task he usually forgot, remarked, “…I can tell my neurons are getting stronger!”
Teachers also taught students about their brains through videos featuring fun characters and stories. “Ned the Neuron” was popular in kindergarten. After one video, teachers used chopsticks to eat a meal. When a teacher confessed she wasn’t very good at using chopsticks (another strategy—sharing what adults have difficulty mastering), a student replied, “That’s okay, it’s a chance for your neurons to get stronger.”
We hope to continue the growth mindset momentum, so that all Mayfield students know intelligence can be developed, to embrace challenges, develop strengths and weaknesses, and see the value of focused effort.