photo of girl studying from behind herFrom the Washington Post, Valerie Strauss shares the 6th in a series of essays about letting students struggle in class.  She shares the essay by Valerie May who talks about her biology class in relation to Carol Dweck’s growth mindset.  She writes:

“The power of Dweck’s theory lies in a teacher’s ability to help students shift from a fixed to a growth mindset. I teach AP Biology to high ability sophomores, many of whom come to the course with fixed-mindsets. Within a few weeks of beginning the course, they realize that this course is unlike any in their past, and frustration begins to take hold. Many will admit that their success in school has usually come with minimal effort. Typically the top students in their classes, they are not accustomed to struggling and find it uncomfortable seeking help. They have learned to associate assistance with a lack of ability.

While the primary focus of my course is biology, significant time is spent learning how to learn while creating an environment where students feel safe taking academic risks. Effort is expected, and students learn there is no shame in an incorrect response as long as effort has been put forth and they have learned from their mistakes. In-class activities and homework assignments are purposeful in their design to provide students with opportunities to practice the learning that will lead to success while not being overly time-consuming. Frequent, low-stakes opportunities are provided for students to assess their progress while allowing me to provide ungraded formative feedback. Many of these opportunities for feedback prior to a test are voluntary. Rather than complying with a teacher’s demand, I want students to see that seeking assistance is a choice they can make to improve the understanding. This helps them to develop into empowered learners….”

Read the full story at How to get kids to take academic risks