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Teaching and Learning

Growth Mindset is the teaching and learning theme for the district during the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school year. What is a growth mindset and why is it important for educators to not only adopt one for themselves, but to also help to develop it in their students? The answer lies in the research conducted by world-renown Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck; Dweck collected decades of research on the relationship between effort and achievement and success. Her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success is a #1 Best Seller and has inspired and influenced people in almost every field, from the business world to educational institutions. Understanding and fostering Dweck's simple idea of growth mindset can unlock a key of unlimited potential in generations of school aged children and that is why we are studying it this school year.
  • People with a fixed mindset believe that qualities such as intelligence or talent are fixed traits that people are are born with and they believe there is a certain 'ceiling' that determines how far these can be developed. They spend time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them and they are sometimes afraid to take risks for fear of failure. They believe that talent or traits that you are born with are what determine success.

  • People with a growth mindset believe that success is directly linked to effort. They believe that even the most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work and that brains and talent are just the starting point. They often take risks, and when they stumble, they view it not as failure but as part of the learning process leading to success. Virtually all successful people have a growth mindset. Have you ever heard of the expression, "Leaders are not born, they are made"?

In addition to the 'Mindset' work that we will embark on this year, teachers will also receive professional development in Instructional Practices that Maximize Student Achievement. Through attending and participating in workshops and reading and discussing chapters, we will be addressing the following goals in the District Improvement Plan:
  • Improving the instructional core as the key variable in improving student achievement
  • Continuously advancing rigorous instruction through a collaborative culture and continuous data analysis, and
  • Involving all stakeholders in supporting a literacy-focused curriculum across all core subjects and grade levels

Teachers have received a copy of the aforementioned book by Ribas Associates. HERE is the table of contents. On-site training, funded through a grant, is being provided by Ribas consultants over the course of 2 years. In addition, all district administrators received calibration training in July 2015 and again in January 2016 on how to look for and encourage these best practices in every classroom. Evaluators viewed and discussed teaching videos using an instructional practices rubric that is aligned to the Massachusetts Educator Evaluation System. They learned how to use the a standardized format to provide standardized, yet personalized and meaningful verbal and written feebback to teachers around our 2 district focus areas. The intended outcome of this professional development is for evaluators and teachers, alike, to have the same understandings about the most current, effective teaching strategies so that they can be utilized often with all students in every learning context.