My aim last term was to blog weekly and reflect on BT journey. I openly admit failure and used the well worn excuse that I didn’t have time. I’m getting bored of saying and thinking it so spurred into action by Claire Amos‘ call to action for educators to #hackyrclass I’m moving from intention to doing.
This weeks focus is on Carol Dweck’s assessment of mindset which sets out to explain how people perceive their abilities as either set traits locked in that can only be built upon or developed with practise and persistence. Dweck’s growth mindset is something I came across last year during a PD session while on placement at a high school. It clicked with me but I didn’t yet have a true understanding of what it meant or, more to the point how it would impact students until I shed my student teacher tag and took on my own classes this year. Wow, I get it and it is not a simple dichotomy but a continuum.
I’m in an interesting position as a Year 7&8 Technology teacher I see a group of students one day a week for a 9 week cycle before they move on to another technology area. For them each term resembles the beginning of the year all over again; I see a new crew passing through my door preloaded with self imposed limitations of what they can achieve. It saddens me when I hear students immediately shut down at the thought of launching into a new project, usually starting with ‘I’m no good at art’ or ‘I’m just not creative’, often linking artistic skill with being creative – they are not mutually exclusive. I’ve found students are scared to try, to open themselves up to possibly not getting it perfect the first time to the point they give up before starting and are paralysed. How exhausting.
This is where I find learning through making – for both myself and my students – supports the development of a growth mindset by focusing on testing out ideas and prototyping without fear of failure and in some cases setting out to fail, break things and build again. ‘Making’ in its very nature is action,”Do or not do. There is no try”*
The term ‘maker’ is not new but what I am seeing and hearing is that is coming into focus as a way of not only engaging but empowering students. Allowing student the space (figuratively!) to make and create as a way of exploring ideas not only aids learning through action but helps to spark innate curiosity and creativity. I had a student last term who could not shift past a brainstorming phase, given the challenge to use an old plastic container to explain his idea and magically self imposed limitations broke down and the question shifted from ‘I’m not that creative’ to ‘ where are the scissors and hot glue guns?’
The biggest takeaway from my first term of teaching is I’m no different – let me tweak it, fix it, break it and mash it to move forward in my thinking. I come from a design background so for me protoyping is a natural way to approach new situations. When rolling out new products as soon as they left my desk and were released ot the world I was looking at ways to develop and make products better/cheaper/more attractive to customers. At the start of the year I came into my classroom with a predetermined notion of what was meant to unfold and, more to the point, how I was meant to function in this space. I’m finding that my growth mindset is helping me to think about how to develop and improve my teaching so effectively I’m prototyping my pedagogy.
My challenge now is to make sure I’m supporting the cultivation of this mindset within my class and not just myself. And with Term two upon me the next round of prototyping kicks off
*any excuse to insert a Star Wars quote!