The clue is in the name. We are a Preparatory School and such, we promise to prepare children for the next stages of their lives. As a staff we recognised that we are unable to teach our children everything they need to know to flourish in their future careers. Simply because many of those careers don’t yet exist! However, what we can do is teach them the skills and give them the tools that will help them acquire the knowledge required and cope with the demands of a rapidly changing world.
Just over two years ago, we embarked on a Growth Mindset voyage of discovery. As a Headteacher, it has been one of the most rewarding and invigorating processes that I have been a part of. At this school, we always start with ‘Why?’ as described by Simon Sinek. Our ‘Why?’ is always about children and what is in their best interests. A Growth Mindset is possibly the most important tool we can provide our children with in their preparation for life. Too often adults impose limits on children and at Edenhurst we believe that this is wrong. The potential of children is unlimited and they should be taught that. But there should always be a healthy dose of reality. Learning from failure and the importance of hard work should always be stressed.
A lot of the work we have done has been based on the incredible work of Prof. Carol Dweck. But how do you explain Neuroscience and Metacognition to an 8-year-old? Our approach was to personify the learning dispositions and characteristics required. The first step was for us as staff to identify key traits to focus this work. Knowing our children, and based on research, we came up with: Open-Mindedness, Curiosity, Risk-taking, Courage, Perseverance and Resilience. We could have gone with many more but kept it to 6 to ensure a sharp focus.
In a series of lessons we translated these rather advanced concepts into child-friendly language and presented them to the children. We then did the most difficult thing for teachers to do, and handed over control to the children. They were tasked with choosing and naming characters that represent these dispositions. Those of us in education know that when teaching abstract concepts, you always begin with the concrete. So, I went to Amazon and bought these!
Each classroom in the school now has access to a set of these Learning Friends. A very talented parent at the school, Jo Ryan, then helped us take things further and designed amazing posters of these characters to display around the school to ensure that this message is always visible to children.
This is now part of our language at our school. It is hugely powerful to hear a 5-year-old talk about Resilience with a real understanding of what that means, and why it is important. But this work is not done….YET. It is too important to be a short term project. It needs to inform what we do as a school, and become part of our DNA. I will not tire of channeling Prof. Dweck because Edenhurst is a school that believes in the potential of children, and provides them with the tools they need to succeed. Together we will grow our Growth Mindset.
Mr. HibbertCategories: School Blogs