Growth Mindset: Walk the Talk

Education, Memory, Mindset, Motivation, Teaching and Learning

I have been to a fair few terrible CPD days in my teaching career. One of the worst I wrote about here and the best by far were ResearchED and the Education Festival.

ResearchED and the Festival of Education are head and shoulders above the rest because sessions were practical and actionable. I left inspired, full of ideas that I could implement the very next day in the classroom. That is the mark of truly great CPD.

When the Growth Mindset philosophy exploded into schools I was ecstatic. I had seen firsthand the impact having such an approach to teaching and learning can have in a stellar PRU I taught in. I had also grown up surrounded by it, at LPT my parents had been advocating the philosophy for decades and it is at the core of every programme we design.

I would be lying to you if I didn’t confess I was dubious too. Growth Mindset is marvellous, but incredibly difficult to make tangible. As a result, it is easy to fall into the meaningless “you can achieve anything” band camp. An excellent, heart – felt mantra, that ultimately does little to help young people grow.

Yes, any child can achieve anything but only with a bucket – load of hard work, the ability to bounce – back, to learn, develop and grow from life’s inevitable hard lessons of rejection, obstacles, and negativity.

CjHmohVWkAA2Crz

This is the score used in rehearsals by a well known soprano. 10% genius, 90% hard work. Shared by @fimetic on Twitter.

That is no easy task, and one assembly on having a Growth Mindset isn’t going to cut it. Children need to be equipped with practical strategies. Teachers need to be open about their own mindset (we are human after all!) and above all, know how they can implement the Growth Mindset philosophy in their classroom and school.

That is why I wrote Growth Mindset: Walk the Talk – a practical CPD programme that aims to make the philosophy tangible and actionable by focusing on ideas, techniques, research and case studies.

It’s had such a great demand from schools that I’m thrilled to be running the event at King’s College London on Friday 1st July 2016. Tickets are extremely limited (we only have a few left!) so book here

I look forward to meeting you!

Carrie Signature 2016

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Growth Mindset: Walk the Talk

Education, Learning, Mindset, Teaching and Learning

I have been to a fair few terrible CPD days in my teaching career. One of the worst I wrote about here and the best by far were ResearchED and the Education Festival.

ResearchED and the Festival of Education are head and shoulders above the rest because sessions were practical and actionable. I left inspired, full of ideas that I could implement the very next day in the classroom. That is the mark of truly great CPD.

When the Growth Mindset philosophy exploded into schools I was ecstatic. I had seen firsthand the impact having such an approach to teaching and learning can have in a stellar PRU I taught in. I had also grown up surrounded by it, at LPT my parents had been advocating the philosophy for decades and it is at the core of every programme we design.

I would be lying to you if I didn’t confess I was dubious too. Growth Mindset is marvellous, but incredibly difficult to make tangible. As a result, it is easy to fall into the meaningless “you can achieve anything” band camp. An excellent, heart – felt mantra, that ultimately does little to help young people grow.

Yes, any child can achieve anything but only with a bucket – load of hard work, the ability to bounce – back, to learn, develop and grow from life’s inevitable hard lessons of rejection, obstacles, and negativity.

CjHmohVWkAA2Crz

This is the score used in rehearsals by a well known soprano. 10% genius, 90% hard work. Shared by @fimetic on Twitter.

That is no easy task, and one assembly on having a Growth Mindset isn’t going to cut it. Children need to be equipped with practical strategies. Teachers need to be open about their own mindset (we are human after all!) and above all, know how they can implement the Growth Mindset philosophy in their classroom and school.

That is why I wrote Growth Mindset: Walk the Talk – a practical CPD programme that aims to make the philosophy tangible and actionable by focusing on ideas, techniques, research and case studies.

It’s had such a great demand from schools that I’m thrilled to be running the event at King’s College London on Friday 1st July 2016. Tickets are extremely limited (we only have a few left!) so book here

I look forward to meeting you!

Carrie Signature 2016

Building Blocks of Success: A summary of DfE report

Education, Learning, Politics, Pupil Premium, research, Study Skills, Teacher Resources, Teaching and Learning

The government commissioned NFER (National Foundation for Educational Research) to investigate good practice in raising attainment of disadvantaged students. They specifically looked at features of schools that narrowed the gap successfully and compared it to schools that weren’t doing so well.

It’s a fascinating read but the report, Supporting the attainment of disadvantaged pupils: articulating success and good practice,” like the title is long and hardly sexy. If you’re anything like me – teaching, being a governor, mentor, and business owner – it’s tough to find time to read research reports like this. Four months later I am celebrating finishing the study with a) a glass of wine b) a summary blog to make other teachers’ lives easier.

1. What makes successful schools successful?

The question on everyones lips and in a nutshell they place an emphasis on;

  • Teaching and learning strategies including emotional/social support
  • Assessment for learning systems so they are straightforward
  • Clear feedback for pupils
  • Improving pupils’ ability to learn through metacognitive strategies

2. What is the magic potion? 

No magic tricks here. There is no one singular approach identified as raising attainment. (That’s important, they repeat that a lot) In fact, the most successful schools had on average 18 different strategies in place to support disadvantaged pupils.

In secondary schools the analysis identified four main groups of strategies used by schools to raise disadvantaged pupils’ attainment. The analysis of relationships between these factors identified one statistically significant relationship; more successful schools were more likely to use the Group S4 strategies.

GroupingThis is backed up by Schools’ Week Alternative GCSE League Table which show the best performing schools in the country for pupils receiving free school meals. We work with 4 out of the top 10 schools who have over 20% FSM pupils on study skills, metacognition, and independent learning strategies as part of our Pupil Premium Project.

3. What can my school do next?

What is clear from the study, is the effectiveness of such strategies relies on them being embedded into a whole – school ethos of aspiration and attainment.

The study identified seven “building blocks” for success for all pupils, including those from disadvantaged pupils.

 

Building Blocks

The details of the building blocks can be found between pages 73 – 82. You can skip straight to these pages as they are well worth a read and have handy comparisons.

4. The improvement journey 

This visualisation of the “schools’ pathways to success” in raising attainment I found particularly helpful.

Schools' Pathway to Success

(Timescale 3 – 5 years)

5. Conclusion

Tah dah! There is no simple solution or one size fits all solution to closing the attainment gap. Instead, a number of measures are required, including setting a culture of high expectations and looking at evidence based strategies such as, metacognition. It must be tailored to each school’s circumstances and above all, the students.

What do you think makes a school successful in supporting the attainment of disadvantaged pupils? Comment below!

The Philosophy of Memory Part 2; Mindset

Creativity, Education, Exams, Memory, Mindset, Motivation, Revision, Study Skills, Teaching and Learning

Henry Ford’s, “If you think you can or you think can’t, you’re right,” is the lifeblood running through all our programmes for young people. So much so, it’s part 2 of our Philosophy of Memory!

Strategies for Success AI

Mindset and self – belief is vital. Memory techniques is a big part of this as they demonstrate the brain’s plasticity – it can develop and grow. Intelligence is not fixed.

Often during our workshops students are amazed at just how much they can recall when they use a technique. Their mindset is transformed from “There’s no way I can remember all that,” to “I can do it!”

Getting rid of that little fixed voice that whispers, “you can’t do this,” is one step towards conquering all those obstacles that stop pupils achieving.

You got this.

#MemoryMatters

5 Things I Learnt from ResearchEd

Education, Learning, Teacher Resources, Teaching and Learning
  1. People are VERY precious over technology. 

I was part of a panel discussing “Is technology wasting our time?” My answer? Yes.

Most of my teaching career was spent in developing countries where too often technology was used as an attempt solve social issues. It’s exactly the same in the UK. We have an education system that fails almost half of its’ young people. We have questionable literacy and numeracy standards. We have been told our children are one of the unhappiest in the world. Technology can’t solve these issues, people can.

There is a huge difference between learning the digital tools of modern life and the critical skills needed. What about the basic maths to become an engineer? What about the communication skills to become a good doctor, teacher or alas, a human being? Technology can’t teach this, teachers can.

On top of all this, there is hardly any evidence that technology can improve pupil attainment but there is plenty of evidence that it can impede focus and thus results.

I argued it would be better to invest our time and money in people, as ultimately, no app or gadget will surpass the power of a teacher.

2. I didn’t think the above was particularly controversial. Oh, but it is. 

To the extent I was told that if technology doesn’t work in a school then it is the students, teachers and school’s fault. Right…

3. Everyone loves to tweet. 

As we were chatting I could see lots of people tweeting furiously, so once the panel was wrapped up I was keen to see what people were saying. There were a few tweets about my “poor pedagogy,” being the reason technology failed in my classroom. It’s a shame that this wasn’t raised during a panel where anything and everything is up for discussion. I would have enjoyed the challenge of such an argument. Then again this lack of face – to – face communication just helped to prove point 1, so thanks.

4. I didn’t think I would like Nick Gibb MP, but he was actually quite charming. 

The Labour member, Corbyn voter in me wanted to dislike this man intensely. Instead, I found myself nodding in agreement with many things he said and even laughed at his joke. My Grandmother would have been horrified. Sorry Gran.

Nick Gibb's speech "The Importance of the teaching profession."

Nick Gibb’s speech “The Importance of the teaching profession.”

5. We have an awesome, dedicated and passionate learning community.

I already knew this of course, but ResearchEd really bought it home. 700+ teachers giving up a Saturday, many travelling from a far, all there with a singular purpose to learn, to improve, to be the best teachers for their students. Not many industries could boast such a dedicated workforce.

The masses. Photo via @miss_mcinerney

The masses. Photo via @miss_mcinerney

Learning is Fun. Promise.

Creativity, Education, Learning, Learning Performance, Motivation, Teacher Resources

“I don’t love studying. I hate studying. I like learning. Learning is beautiful.”

Natalie Portman

I was so disheartened last night after a twitter conversation with @tesbehaviour that I fancied crawling under the bedcovers, only resurfacing for flapjacks and custard creams – the two best things in the world.

I didn’t do that, of course, tempting as it was but I did have a cup of tea with custard creams – any excuse.

A well – respected educational resource with a large following said “learning can’t always be fun.” Five trigger words that makes me want to leap onto my moral horse and gallop into the teaching battlefield screaming ‘Infidels! Fun Learning War!’ 

I am a realist. I do realise that not every lesson will be a roller coaster of rip – roaring laughter. We are teachers, not stand-up comedians. So it is important to realise ‘fun’ doesn’t just mean mucking about.

‘Fun’ is defined as something that brings pleasure or enjoyment.’  Synonyms are; interesting, engaging, & gratifying.

Surely that is exactly what learning should be?! 

To argue students misbehave because they are bored or think its funny is missing the point. Pupils shouldn’t be bored or having to seek their amusement elsewhere. Lessons that engage, interest and gratify students demonstrate that education and school has tangible value. And when we value something, we pay attention and work hard.

It doesn’t take much energy, time, planning or imagination to make learning fun and yes, this includes even so – called ‘difficult’ subjects like Maths or Science. See Lesson StartersRevision Games & Creative A – Maps for some quick & adaptable ideas.

And a big thank you to Miss Sykes & Helan Victoria who shared their enthusiasm for learning and preventing me from falling into a custard cream coma.

What we learn with pleasure, we never forget. 

The final push to exams!

Education, Exams, Learning, Motivation, Study Skills, Teacher Resources

As exams draw near we are getting increasing queries about how to motivate students or give them that final push!

Let’s not be under any illusion… Motivation is not an exact science and there’s no silver bullet. Responsibility for any individual’s education belongs and always has belonged with that individual. If a student wishes to learn then they will, if not they won’t.

However, there are plenty of motivational theories to choose from such as, Abraham Maslow’s “Need Hierarchy Theory”, “Theory X and Theory Y” of Douglas McGregor, and Goal Setting Theory of Edwin Locke…. to name but a few.

Ours is simple;

Lack of Self-Belief + No Goal + No Plan = LOW MOTIVATION

Lack of self – belief is usually the core issue. If students believe they can’t do something, then why bother putting any effort in? There are a number of things a teacher can do to help encourage students self – belief and confidence. The simplest is praise; positivity can go a long way. After all, you may be the first person to tell them they can achieve.

The other is getting students to look at their mindset. Professor Carol Sweck’s summary of growth and fixed mindset is brilliant. Dweck’s work can open our eyes to the possibilities for growth across different areas of our lives, while alerting us to the fixed mindsets that may be weighing down our careers, relationships, families, or schooling.

Students (and you) can discover what mindset they are with this simple test. Just click on the link to download the questionnaire. What is your mindset

You can then encourage students to grow, develop and achieve.

As Dweck says;

The fixed mindset limits achievement. It fills people’s minds with interfering thoughts, it makes effort disagreeable, and it leads to inferior learning strategies. What’s more, it makes other people into judges instead of allies. Whether we’re talking about Darwin or college students, important achievements require clear focus, all-out effort, and a bottomless trunk full of strategies. This is what the growth mindset gives people, and that’s why it helps their abilities grow and bear fruit.

To book a motivation workshop for students or staff contact us on 01903 872 849 or email carrie@learningperformance.com

www.learningperformance.com

@LPerformance

The Science Behind Creativity and A – Maps

Creativity, Education, Learning, Learning Performance, Study Skills, Teacher Resources

At the hub of pretty much all of our brain’s activity is the reticular activating system. Bear with me this article does get better.

Let’s call it RAS for short. It is the filter for all internal thoughts and for all external information that comes through our senses. Briefly, it is the bit of our brain that decides what we will and won’t be conscious of. RAS tends to adore new or surprising things and focuses on stuff we find relevant or interesting. That is why we are unable to prevent drifting off during a long and boring lecture or can’t concentrate when we are hungry or thirsty.

One way to ensure pupil’s RAS doesn’t filter out your lessons is to tap into the different areas of their brains.Broadly speaking, the brain operates in two main ways, creatively and logically. It is often said the brain is divided into two halves; the right side being creative and the left side is logical. This is, of course, purely figurative as the creative and logical functions of the brain intermingle all over the place. But for simplicity I’m going to use the classic right and left.

Creative activities involve anything that taps into imagination, imagery, rhythm and rhyme. Whether you are running a guided imagery exercise, or getting the class to rap, or watching a video this is appealing to their right brain.  Whereas, anything text – based, or involves ordering and sequencing is obviously logical. Solving math puzzles, making flow diagrams and reading from a textbook are left brain activities.

However, creativity is no good without order, and logic is not productive without an imaginative spark. The two halves have to form neural connections in order to operate effectively. One cannot exist without the other. That is why tasks that use both sides of the brain tend to grab students’ attention as they stimulate the neural connections.

A great exercise for students that uses both sides of the brain is Association Maps or A – Maps. They are particularly good for revision but can be used daily. I use them constantly and my brain gets a mental kick every single time.

A – Maps are a creative and logical diagram that organize thoughts, formulates a structure, and condenses information in an imaginative way. By using colour and images, and forcing the mind to be logical, mapping combines the left and right brain beautiful.

There are just two golden rules to A – Maps;

  1. They are not brainstorms or spider webs; words and images should be written directly on the line not in some bubble floating off somewhere. This is a strict rule, because writing or drawing on lines helps the mind associate and recall the information in the right order and place. See it is very logical!
  2.  Less is more. No sentences, just keywords or images that are triggers.

Here is an outline of a good A – Map. Note how logical the structure is with a central theme, main idea as key branches, then details flowing out. All should link together.

amap basic

Then unleash your students’ imagination and see how effective A – Maps can be. Check out this students’ A – Map on Mice and Men.

A-Map Mice and Men

The science highlights the importance of creative teaching. To me, creative teaching is teaching to enhance the learning process and your role as a teacher. It is about how you present yourself as someone who cares & enjoys their subject, how you motivate pupils to participate and understand, how you go about making learning fun and engaging. That is the essence of creative teaching.

Plenty of research shows a more creative approach to learning improves results. If pupils have an awareness of how they learn they have greater control and ownership over their work. It becomes personal. And we all know that as soon something is personal we focus and work hard to get better results.

In terms of pupil learning, we call it learning performance – focus, energy, enthusiasm, comprehension, and results (hence my company’s name, Learning Performance Training!).

This article can also be found at Schools Improve Net. Feel free to comment or share on twitter

www.learningperformance.com

Lesson Starters: Grab Students’ Attention.

Creativity, Education, Enterprise, Exams, Learning, Learning Performance, Study Skills, Teacher Resources

Students will have done lots of things since they last saw you. So you need to get their attention. Here are some motivational and fun lesson starter ideas that require minimal planning:

  • Paper Aeroplanes

Give students 30 seconds to recall three main points about a particular unit, topic or even the last lesson they had with you. Have them write down their points on a piece of paper. Make a game of this, apply mock pressure as the time runs out or even have the Countdown clock counting down the thirty seconds!

Once you are satisfied with their answers get the pupils to create planes with their paper. Place a bin in the middle of the room and explain the bin represents their brains. They have to aim their planes into the bin or brain! This game can be taken further by giving a prize to the student who lands their plane first!

This exercise encourages students to recall information, while jazzing things up so they don’t actually realise they are consolidating their learning. Students will remember shooting the planes and with association the points on it.

  • You say we pay

This can be a class exercise or students can be put into pairs. If using as a class exercise, show one student an image or something relevant to the topic/lesson. They then have to describe the image to the rest of the class, without saying exactly what it is. This can be made tougher by introducing taboo words that can’t be said.

  • Who am I?

Classic game. Write key terms on a series of post – it notes. Stick a post it note on each pupil’s head and get them to ask their partners questions about who/what they are. Their partners can only answer yes or no.

  • Bob It.

Bobbing is the art of raising yourself out of your seat a little bit then sitting back down. It is the kinesthetic equivalent of putting your hand up. Simply question the class and get them to ‘bob’ if they think it is correct. For instance, ‘World War II began in 1939.’ Mix it up with false statements to catch students out.

This is also a good way to gauge pupil’s knowledge and highlight any areas that need extra work.

These ideas should kick – start your lesson and have pupils engaged from the beginning. Remember to enjoy yourself too!

If you liked these ideas try David Starbuck ‘Creative Teaching; Learning with Style.’ or www.learningperformance.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creativity can unlock so much.

Creativity, Education, Enterprise, Exams, Learning, Learning Performance, Study Skills

A small school in Northern California is experimenting with a new way of learning.

Nightingale Elementary School are using a different teaching philosophy where the staff collaborate in creating learning plans that broaden students’ education and skills. For example, teachers collectively decide  what the school’s academic focus will be for a month or so. Let’s say it is health. Students then read biographical books about cancer survivors in English class; they create an interactive timeline of cancer treatment discoveries in history class; they understand oncology counts in math; and finally there might be a visit to a nearby cancer research center for science class.

The idea is that students remain engaged and are better prepared for life beyond school.

As a company, Learning Performance, has visited numerous schools with different creative teaching methods. David Starbuck, author of ‘Creative Teaching; Learning with Style,’ has a brilliant vision statement for creative schools, which I think sums it up nicely;

A creative zest for learning and for life – Aim to provide outstanding and motivating opportunites for all our pupils to really enjoy learning, to be part of the learning process, and to establish the skills needed to enjoy and flourish in their life beyond school”

The great thing is, bringing creativity to the classroom and curriculum doesn’t have to be mission impossible. It can be used daily. Take for example, this teacher I met at one of our INSET workshops where we talked about the need to appeal to the pupils’ left and right brains. One of the maths teachers came up to me during the break and told me his brilliant idea;

He got his students to play darts (I assume the Velcro variety, but you never know, it might be the real thing!) They played darts and had to add up the score as quickly as possible and subtract it from the overall score. The pupils got competitive – in a good way – as they all tried to call out the correct score before anyone else. They all had fun, and they were doing mental arithmetic!

Creativity unlocks so much. It develops a pupil’s passion for a subject, pupils’ enjoyment of a lesson, it rejuvenates teachers, inspires confidence and unlocks potential. If you have an idea, try it.

If you would like to know more read David Starbuck’s ‘Creative Teaching,’ I can’t recommend it highly enough. Or for Nightingale Elemmentary School’s full story visit Mindshift.

Feel free to comment below or join the discussion on twitter @LPerformance