The Caedmon School Blog

Habits of Mind and Growth Mindsets

Habits of Mind and Growth Mindsets

As Matthew mentioned previously in  Inside Caedmon, we always look for fresh opportunities to share elements of our rich, dynamic academic program with you.  To that end, this year, we will share highlights from our innovative program-in-action, from Young Beginners through Upper Level.  Offering a whole-school perspective that often will include specific classroom examples of learning through the grades and relevant resources for parents, we believe these highlights will be a complement to the Curriculum Notes that your child’s homeroom teachers write to you.  As such, these two forms of communication will alternate in a two-week cycle.  These updates will be brought to you by some or all of the following individuals: Tyler Jennings, Director of Curriculum Design and Innovation; Saniya Mehdi, Director of Early Program and Kindergarten; Andria Quintero, Director of Student Learning and Support; and Lisa Oberstein, Assistant Head of School.

Habits of Mind and Growth Mindsets

As many of you know, the Responsive Classroom methodology has become foundational to classroom life throughout the Elementary grades at Caedmon; it is premised on the belief that students’ social-emotional growth is imperative both to a healthy school experience and to successful academic learning.  Our investment in this methodology has set the stage for Caedmon’s Elementary faculty to now seek additional ways to elevate the role of social-emotional learning specifically in the realm of academics.  The objectives in doing so include:

  • to empower students to own their learning;
  • to raise students’ awareness that:
    • their beliefs about learning can impact their capacity to learn;
    • the lion’s share of learning occurs during the work process, rather than the moment of delivering a finished product;
    • in addition to possessing content knowledge, our world demands citizens who practice successful habits of thought, work, and communication…
  • and to equip them with actionable strategies to practice all of the above.

To strive for these objectives, Caedmon’s Kindergarten through Fifth grade teachers are employing one or both of two powerful resources during the beginning weeks of this school year: Habits of Mind and Growth Mindset.  The Habits of Mind were developed by researchers Arthur Costa and Bena Kallick and came to us through our work with Metamorphosis (an organization that promotes math “teaching learning communities” and with whom our faculty worked with last year).  Growth Mindset theory has been developed by researcher Carol Dweck and applied to math education by Jo Boaler, both of whom work out of Stanford University.  For more information, check out Carol Dweck’s TED talk on Mindset.

Caedmon’s Elementary teachers piloted some of these lessons last school year; according to our Third grade teachers, for instance, their entering students already demonstrate themselves to be “even more open-minded and more focused on the process rather than just the answers.”  Mr. Stuart notices that during math class, “kids are giggling, excitedly sharing theorems and strategies.”

Perhaps what is most powerful is the language that we have heard from students themselves as they embark on this work in the 2017-18 school year.  From two Second graders: “When you try hard and keep on trying, your brain makes new or stronger pathways. That’s what happens in your brain when you’re learning!” and “Math is not math when it is easy because you don’t have to think when you just know it.”  From two Fourth graders: “Struggling is good because I know my brain is growing.” and “Math is not about speed. It is about the quest.”

We hope that we’ve piqued your curiosity about Growth Mindset and Habits of Mind in our classrooms, and we are looking forward to sharing more about how your children open the school year and orient themselves towards powerful learning!

Lisa Oberstein and Tyler Jennings