The student mindset

Shannon Leili, H-FARM International School Rosà

Children are fascinating (all so different, yet so similar), and their undeniable potential for growth keeps me interested in continually learning about how to motivate them. Much research has been done over the last few decades about growth mindset — a term coined by Professor Carol Dweck in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” Her research found that “students’ mindsets — how they perceive their abilities — play a key role in their motivation and achievement, and that if students’ mindsets are changed, achievement can be boosted. More precisely, students who believed their intelligence could be developed (a growth mindset) outperformed those who believed their intelligence was fixed (a fixed mindset).”

Teachers and parents can play an important role in developing students’ attitudes toward perceived failure and opportunities for growth by “using a structured program to help them focus on the process that leads to learning (like hard work, trying new strategies or seeking input from others when they’re stuck).”

H-FARM International School Rosà has been living the shift in the Italian educational system’s rehaul of evaluation criteria and assessment methodology at the primary level that reflects many aspects of Dweck’s work. As parents have surely noticed from their childrens’ recent report cards, our teaching staff has fully taken on the new system, despite an incredible amount of work. The new way of evaluating speaks much more to our school’s belief that children’s progress can and should be seen on a continuum. In fact, we believe students should be assessed on what they currently know and do, but that the steps for growth and improvement are also clearly laid out and supported. Simple number grades don’t let a child know where and more importantly how they can do something better. Clear explanations and individual comments based on specific objectives, do. That’s why more and more rubrics will be phased in when assessing student’s work as the school year progresses.

As a teacher and a school community, it’s important for us to think about what these children are actually going to need in order to be successful in the future. Factual knowledge and language skills are crucial of course, but if we can also manage to foster a tendency towards thinking that growth and continual improvement are possible, we’re giving them an invaluable tool for success on a personal and professional level, and hopefully learning and growing ourselves along the way!

The author

Shannon Leili is the Primary Coordinator at H-FARM International School Rosà. Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Ottawa and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Windsor. She has been working in Primary education for over 15 years. Being around children and working as part of a team to help shape and provide learning opportunities continues to bring her great satisfaction.

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H-FARM International School aims to enhance our students’ talent and uniqueness, stimulate and develop their natural abilities and prepare them to to purposefully undertake their future challenges.

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