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The Growth Mindset Coach & A Series of Unfortunate Events

The Growth Mindset Coach– I’m currently participating in a book study of The Growth Mindset Coach (Available through Amazon–  by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley. I actually got to meet Heather (@HeatherHundley3) at the Intensive Instructional Coaching Institute with Jim Knight in November– and what a knowledgeable, sweet person she is! Of course, my friend & colleague, Jeanne and I made sure to point out to Jim that we were sitting with a published author (there may have been squeals of delight)– ultimately, he purchased a copy of the book for himself and even gave a few away as prizes! Outside of this personal connection, I have been noticing lots of growth mindset-themed bulletin boards throughout many classrooms. I’m interested to hear to what extent teachers are utilizing and encouraging growth mindsets in their classrooms– do you believe it is having an impact? Here are just a few small “teacher traps” that can make a big difference, even if you aren’t explicitly teaching growth mindset–

  • Be Mindful of what you Model— Annie and Heather give the example of a young adult believing that she “wasn’t a math person” and how that may have affected her outcomes in math as a student. It made me think a lot about how teachers will sometimes model this type of negative self-talk when saying things like “Don’t mind my drawing on the board, I can’t draw” or “Oh, I’m terrible at math” when speaking in front of students. It is easy to model a fixed-mindset without even realizing it! Annie and Heather remind us to “think about the brain like a muscle. Lifting weights and exercising muscles makes them stronger, right? In the same way, exercising our brain makes it stronger– when we learn new things, our brains actually become denser and heavier.”
  • Learning to Give Effective Praise— Also mentioned is providing effective praise and feedback to students that will promote a growth mindset. They say, “Another trap that teachers can fall into is offering nonspecific praise. You know the kind of praise we’re talking about: those short, laudatory phrases often featured in glittery script on stickers, like “You’re Awesome!” and “Great!” The problem is that these phrases don’t provide much feedback to the student– What are they doing right so they can do it again? Here are a few suggestions from the book:
    • You’re awesome! — You’re putting awesome effort in on this fractions assignment.
    • Good work! — Good work writing a detailed essay.
    • Well done! — Well done on your dance recital. I can see that you’ve practiced a lot.

The book includes many more useful “nuggets” but also is set up in a friendly format. It walks teachers through the process of teaching students about growth mindset month-by-month– including lesson plans, activities, strategies, and more.

A Series of Unfortunate Events Idea– Is your silent-sustained reading period in a rut? Binge-watching Netflix shows is now the thing to do whether you are a middle-schooler or adult, right? So, why not take advantage of that idea to engage students with texts? I’ve been watching A Series of Unfortunate Events lately (which is really fantastic) and “oohing and aahing” over how much I enjoy Neil Patrick Harris in the role of Count Olaf– he is equal parts despicable, hilarious, and downright perfect! My thought is this– why not have students in your CONNECT create a cast list for their favorite, or even current, book? Here’s how I’d put it together–

  • Read a passage from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events to your class that provides some character description.
  • Watch a clip from the show and talk about the similarities and differences between the literary and film characters.
  • Now, students will choose a book (past or present).
  • Prompt: Pretend that this book is going to be made into a Netflix show and you get to choose the actors and actresses that will play the parts of these characters..
  • List the qualities that would make that person great for the job, any physical or wardrobe considerations that may need to be made, voice, hair, etc.
  • This could be done in their reading journals, set up online as a Google Sheet that everyone adds to, or just a good ‘ol handout.


Instructional coach and former art teacher on the hunt for tips, tricks, strategies, and knowledge to pass along.

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