By Sam Piha
We know from research that fostering growth mindsets in young people can promote very positive outcomes. Last year, we sponsored a Speaker’s Forum in Oakland, CA featuring Eduardo Briceño, Co-Founder and CEO of Mindset Works. We also sponsored a Speaker’s Forum in Los Angeles with Jacquie Beaubien, Senior Program Manager at Project for Education Research that Scales (PERTS) at Stanford University.
Much of the Growth Mindset research comes from Dr. Carol Dweck. You can view her 10-minute TEDTalk video, which has been viewed nearly 6 million times, by clicking below.
We recently worked with our Central Valley colleagues (Central Valley Afterschool Foundation, California Teaching Fellows Foundation, and Visalia Unified School District) to host a Speaker’s Forum entitled “Ignite Learning with a Growth Mindset!”. Below is an interview with our presenter, Emily Diehl, Director Professional Learning and Curriculum Design at Mindset Works.
Q: Very briefly, can you describe what we mean by "growth mindset" and "fixed mindset"?
A: Fixed mindset: the belief that abilities and intelligence are fixed and unchangeable
Growth mindset: the understanding that abilities and intelligence can be developed our whole lives.
Q: Afterschool, or as it is sometimes referred, expanded learning, is still growing. Conservative estimates state that there is well over 10 million young million in these programs. Do you think that these informal settings are good ones to promote the idea of growth mindsets?
A: Any setting where students are with adults and peers who create a sense of belonging and help students build a strong sense that they can develop and grow is a great setting for promoting a growth mindset. These informal settings might be particularly helpful in that they tend to be lower stakes as far as achievement goes and so students are able to experience growth and reflect on their process to achieve that growth, without as much fear of failure.
Q: As our understanding of the needs of youth and afterschool research and literature expands, there is increased pressure on afterschool programs to do more - there are a large number of frameworks and related program practices which results in growing demands on afterschool staff. Does promoting growth mindsets require a complex set of practices?
A: No, I would not say it's complex; however, it is not easy. The changes we make to be more growth-minded can seem very simple, but what might seem simple is not because we have to re-learn our responses and assumptions. Changing those beliefs and responses takes time, reflection, self-awareness, and practice. What's more our emotions and desires can get in the way. An example of emotion getting in the way is embarrassment for making a mistake. We are less likely to risk trying new approaches if we think we will fail in front of others rather than knowing that the only way we can grow is by taking on challenges. Thus, we might know we can grow, but avoid growth opportunities because we want to avoid embarrassment.
Q: For afterschool leaders who are interested in ensuring that their programs promote growth mindsets, what do you recommend? Where should they start?
A: There are two great places to begin which many educators have found to be a successful first step. First is to change our feedback to students from person-centered praise ("You are so talented!") to process related feedback or questions ("I noticed you didn't stop when it got tough!"). We have a great deal of resources for this on our website and Twitter. The key is to think about the messages we send when we tell people they are smart when they do things perfectly and without trying very hard. That sends a message that smart people don't try hard and don't make mistakes. The opposite is true. So switching up that message to one of taking on a challenge, even if I might fail, because I will learn a lot, is the key to cultivating growth mindsets.
A second place to begin is to talk about the brain as malleable and changeable. Talk about how our brains change with practice - whether we are practicing "good" or "bad" habits - and we can re-map our brains all the time with effective effort. This helps place growth in a student's internal locus of control - "the things I do and have control over can make me smarter". This creates hope. There are many resources available on our website and other places for help promoting this message.
Emily is Director of Professional Learning and Curriculum design at Mindset Works. Mindset Works provides in-person, digital and printed growth mindset training and resources to thousands of schools. Mindset works helps teachers and students enable a world in which people seek and are fulfilled by ongoing learning and growth. Emily has spoken at numerous schools, districts, events and conferences for educators, students and district leaders. She supports schools across the country in implementation of mindset programs and professional learning sessions. She has contributed a great deal to the Brainology programs as well as educator programs such as MindsetMarker™ and LeaderKit™. She is editor of the Mindset Works blog and online newsletter. Twitter: @emilyadiehl
By Sam Piha
Social emotional learning (SEL) and character building have increasingly been deemed as important for afterschool programs. At the same time, SEL is becoming more important for in-school classrooms.
Below is an interview with Mary Hurley, Coordinator for Social and Emotional Learning and Leadership in Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and serves on the Advisory Committee for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) Collaborating States Initiative. We close the interview with a question of how school and afterschool can work more closely together to promote SEL.
Q. What changes in education brought SEL to the forefront?
A: The focus on SEL is coming to the forefront in districts across the country because we were not successfully educating our students without attending to SEL in the classroom.
For the past two decades the No Child Left Behind Act directed districts to be singularly focused on a particular kind of academic success as demonstrated by high stakes testing. Three things have changed:
• The shift to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) now requires a deeper level of understanding and communicating academic knowledge by our students – not just rote memorization. These CCSS are based on the assumption that students have the SEL skills to engage in this more rigorous academic environment.
• Second, recent brain science research shows the essential role that emotions play in the neurological process of learning for adults and students. Every new learning in every domain has an affective element.
• Finally, the enactment of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) now expands the indicators of how schools and students are determined to be successful to include indicators of social and emotional competency in addition to the academic scores from high stakes testing.
Q. What specifically happened in OUSD to prompt the promotion of SEL? Why is this important to OUSD students?
A: OUSD aspires to be a full service Community Schools District where all of our schools are hubs of learning with resources for the entire community. In turn our community is fully engaged within the schools.
The diversity that makes Oakland such an attractive place to raise families also creates challenges to connect across our differences. In order for us to achieve this vision of becoming a Community Schools District we all need to be in productive and positive relationships with one another. SEL skills enable us to be in relationships with one another, with our students and our families in order to create the conditions for academic and social success for all of our students.
Q. What specifically is OUSD doing to promote SEL and what form is this taking on the ground - things that students and/or families would experience?
A: Oakland’s approach to SEL is three fold:
• The first step is to integrate our own SEL Standards into our performance frameworks for schools, principals, teachers and students. This means that a principal’s evaluation of their growth and development includes how proficient they are as a leader in SEL skills. When students and parents look at our Graduate Profile they will see social and emotional learning skills throughout the Profile. SEL is being integrated into how teachers design their academic lessons and how they teach students across the content areas.
• The second step is to infuse SEL into the school’s climate and culture through The 3 Signature SEL Practices. These Practices help to guide how the adults engage with one another and with students throughout the school including greeting students and families by name and listening to diverse opinions.
• The third step is explicitly teaching SEL skills through evidence-based program such as Engaging Schools, Expeditionary Learning and Caring School Community.
Q. There are a number of terms (non-cognitive skills, growth mindsets, etc.), lists, and frameworks that are synonymous with SEL. Is there a specific list or framework that you use in your work?
A: Yes, we use the CASEL framework. The five SEL competencies in the CASEL framework are: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationships and Responsible Decision Making.
We consider SEL to be an affective dimension of learning. Our Academic, Social and Emotional Learning Department includes Teaching and Learning, Professional Learning, SEL, Special Education and Early Childhood Education.
Q: How are classroom teachers trained and supported in implementing SEL practices?
A: This is a real challenge. Our work plan for the next 3-5 years include:
• In 2017-18 we have 5 SEL Learning Hub Schools (K-12) where teachers, principals and sight leadership teams received SEL leadership and classroom coaching every week. Teachers at SEL Learning Hub Schools were offered the opportunity to participate in an SEL Inquiry Professional Learning Community (PLC) with Mills Teacher Scholars and 28 teacher leaders elected to be part of that district-wide PLC. High Schools were able to send their leadership teams to a 4 day SEL Institute. One Middle School was supported as an SEL Learning Hub School.
• In 2017-18 there will be an additional 8 SEL Learning Hub Schools and Instructional Teacher Leaders and principals will be trained in the 3 Signature SEL Practices as the core of our SEL implementation.
Q: Does OUSD utilize any means of measurement? Who is measured and how is the data used?
A: We administer the SEL module of the California Healthy Kids Survey and collect data on Attendance, Referrals, Suspensions, and Expulsions. In 2017-18 we will be using the DESSA (Devereux Student Strength Assessment) in the Learning Hub Schools to provide data on Student SEL Strengths. Data and measurement is another growth area for us.
Q: OUSD has many afterschool programs. How do you see afterschool programs as being part of the OUSD - SEL effort? Is there an effort to integrate the SEL practices at a school that includes in-school and afterschool?
A: As a result of receiving a Wallace Foundation planning grant we will be linking the school day with the afterschool through SEL implementation. We are very excited about the emerging partnership and the promising practices that will emerge. We hope to receive a full grant, which will enable us to continue the project over a 3 year period.
Mary Hurley is the Coordinator for Social and Emotional Learning and Leadership in Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). Mary was a classroom teacher for 30 years prior to coordinating a district partnership with the Bay Area Writing Project (BAWP) and serving as an OUSD Leadership Coach. She is a Carnegie Fellow, a BAWP Teacher Consultant, and is on the Mills College Teacher Scholars Advisory Board and the Advisory Committee for the CASEL Collaborating States Initiative.
By Sam Piha
We recently hosted a Speaker’s Forum in Los Angeles and Oakland entitled, “Getting Intentional About Social Emotional Learning”. These Forums were led by Dr. Dale Blyth, University of Minnesota.
Of those that attended (95):
For those who were unable to attend Dr. Blyth’s presentation, you can view a nearly identical presentation video by clicking here.
Dr. Dale BlythDr. Dale Blyth served as the Howland Endowed Chair in Youth Leadership Development with the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development and the College of Education and Human Development. From 2013 to 2015 he led the SEL Initiative, a partnership between the University and Youthprise. The American Youth Policy Forum describes Dr. Blyth as "one of our favorite SEL gurus".
Sam Piha is the founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development.