Summer PD: Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler: a book study Chapter 2: The Power of Mistakes and Struggle - may you sparkle and grow
This chapter turns my idea of assessment on its head. Boaler tells us that Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, suggests we tell our children that we are sorry they didn't get an opportunity to learn when they receive 100% on a test, because "mistakes cause [our] brain[s] to spark and grow." Boaler believes that we need to construct class work that will challenge and cause our students to make mistakes. These mistakes need to be embraced and shared. If one student makes a mistake, chances are others have made the same mistake. I feel this is so important. My students need to understand that they are not alone in their struggles. If we celebrate the mistake instead of admonish it, we begin to change the thinking around mistakes. Therefore allowing my students to "spark and grow."
"If we believe we can learn, and that mistakes are valuable, our brains grow to a greater extent when we make a mistake." Isn't that the goal of teaching? Don't I want my students to learn and grow? Therefore I need to shake off the desire for them to be perfect, get answers right, and instead, encourage them to get it wrong. I think I have to agree with this theory. If I look back and reflect on some of my greatest learning opportunity's, they invariably started with a failure on some level.
My students need to feel "free to try different ideas, not fearing that they might be wrong." This is a paradigm shift, that will have to start with me. One trait that I make a conscious effort to exhibit in my classroom is my humanism. I am a human. I make mistakes. I allow my students to see my human side. I allow myself to be corrected and I correct myself in front of them. If I lead by example, they will follow.
That's my view from the 86th pew.