Reflecting On Growth Mindset Teaching

THIS is a link to number 36 of the Scalby School Teaching and Learning blog which has some great ideas on how to teach a Growth Mindset to young people. 

One link that is mentioned originates from MindShift and attempts to clear up some confusions. The author, Eduardo Briceño discusses ways to support a Growth Mindset and this quote stuck out for me;

cultivating growth mindsets involves a gradual process of releasing responsibility to students for them to become more self-sufficient learners, and praise is a communications technique that tends to be more helpful earlier in that process of building agency. Later on, adults can ask students questions that prompt them to reflect, so that they’re progressing down the path toward independence“.

This has helped me to reflect on two things. Firstly that students cannot be just left to their own devices. So called experts who criticize progressive teaching (if it even exists?) often think that kids are just put in classrooms, given a task and then left to their own devices. It plainly states that if Growth Mindset (arguably a progressive teaching technique) is carried out well it is about building a young persons ‘agency’ and their skills to become truly independent learners. Teaching Growth Mindset therefore is about a teacher using both traditional and progressive teaching styles.

Note: I really hate the fact that I even have to consider that there may be two different styles of teaching. For me there is just one; ‘Common Sense Teaching’ which involves adopting different teaching styles and techniques as the need arises.

Secondly it has given me further confidence that the skills I am trying to develop in the learners that I teach are going to create young people with a Growth Mindset needed for life in the 21st century. The quote encapsulates how I like to teach on a daily basis.

Sources Of Finance (Business Studies Lesson)

THIS is a lesson plan and PowerPoint for a 30 minute Business Studies introductory lesson into Sources of Finance. It could easily be extended for longer learning periods.




The attachments offer the resources needed to carry out the Business Studies lesson.


Leading The Standard For Teachers Professional Development

July 2016 saw the publication from the DFE of the new TeacherStandards_July2016.

THIS is what the new standards suggest to me. I have highlighted some specific detail in the link, some of which I would like to comment on.

A teachers professional development in my view should be based on 2 main objectives. The first objective should be set around how that specific person would like to develop their career and to learn how to improve so that they can excel at their craft of being a teacher. The second should be based around how to ensure the aspirational progress of all learners within that teachers care (very much linked in to the first objective). This objective should also promote the priorities of the school in which they work. These objectives are often broken down further as part of an appraisal cycle. However, I do believe that those who lead professional development in schools should ‘balance school, subject and individual teacher priorities‘ with sensitivity and challenge to ensure successful outcomes for ALL teaching staff and learners.

These are the the excerpts that I would like to make a comment on from the document:

‘A shared commitment for teachers to support one another to develop so that pupils benefit from the highest quality teaching’.

‘Ofsted put it their September 2015 handbook, “a motivated, respected and effective teaching staff” in “a culture that enables pupils and staff to excel”. Meaning that leadership not only prioritise the operational aspects of teacher development’.

‘Activities to form part of a sustained programme, typically for more than two terms… includes opportunities for experimentation, reflection, feedback and evaluation’.

‘effective leadership of professional development… develops genuine professional trust’.

I believe that these are the most important points in the document due to the strong leadership that would be required to make professional development a positive ongoing experience. I have seen, and have anecdotally been told of, leadership in schools which may struggle to promote a culture which enables these professional development standards to be an effective source of improvement. It could be argued that schools where leadership does not harness a culture of professional trust use professional development in a negative way, in direct conflict to using it as a positive tool to embed sustainable improvement.

I have often talked about how leadership should promote collegiate approaches in their schools where colleagues work together to improve towards a common goal. Ultimately this is to provide the best standard of education possible and to achieve challenging outcomes. One final important comment to evaluate is that teachers should be encouraged to take risks and reflect upon improvements that need to be made within a supportive environment. At my current school this was very much the flavour of a recent training session where the focus was planning towards the new academic year and the encouragement of taking risks within our observed teaching.

THIS is what I hope is the genuine way forward for the continual professional development for ALL teachers.


‘Growth Mindset’ or Common Sense?

THIS is about about Growth Mindset and it’s not the first time that I have shared thoughts on this educational approach. Firstly I am a great believer in the concept. I practice this concept in every lesson that I teach and with every child that I come in to contact with in my role as a teacher. My only problem is that over the last few years it seems to have been hailed as the new great approach that all teachers should practice. Again I would agree with this… but its not new! In my view all teachers if they are doing their job properly should be demonstrating this approach every day.

It is this article that has got me thinking. It is written by Carol Dweck who revisits her research on Growth Mindset. Although this is from September 2015, it made me think about the amount of school leaders I read about who discuss Growth Mindset as the new big thing. I cant help feeling that the research is just common sense.

Surely the point about being a teacher is to grow a young persons mind and always has been? To get their brain working harder than ours is what we should always be trying to achieve? To try new things, to think that did not work and to re-try again in a different way to solve the specific problem should be a mindset adopted as often as possible. That is what we, as teachers do when reviewing our practice and lessons that have gone well or not so well?

If what I am saying is true then we are not only encouraging but practising growth mindset every day in our roles as teachers. What we must do therefore as teachers is to continue this common sense approach to teaching and encourage our young people to adopt a growth mindset. Remember though, we all display a fixed mindset on occasions and that is not the end of the world. However a common sense growth mindset should be a default state we try and return to. It may also help our well-being as it helps us to approach difficulties in a positive way? Again, THIS is just Common Sense!



Ten easy ways to demonstrate progress in a lesson

THIS is a post written entirely by Gillian Galloway, Head of History at Acklam Grange School and was posted on

I wanted to create a record and be able to reflect on this for use within my own teaching.

Here it is for anyone else who would like to use it. Thank you Gillian!

This post is a result of my two minute presentation that I recently gave at the Teachmeet at Acklam Grange School in Middlesbrough. It is one of those things that student teachers ask me all the time. How can I show progress quickly when I am being observed? I think that sometimes, people tend to over think this, as progress can be shown in a lesson very easily. So here are my ten easy ways to do this:

  1. Progress Clocks are very simple. Students are issued  with a template of a blank clock. The clock face is divided into four, each quarter represents twenty minutes of the lesson. The first part is to find out what the students know about a topic. This could be a completely new topic or one that you taught last lesson and are going to expand upon. The clock is revisited throughout the lesson and used a mini plenary check. Students use this alongside success criteria so they can see themselves how much progress they are making and what they need to do to achieve the next level.
  2. Mini Mysteries are used when you want the students to learn independently and demonstrate progress. In History, we use evidence packs that allow the pupils to work together in groups – good for differentiation. They are also provided with a key question. For example, “What was happening at Grafeneck Asylum?”. Students then have to come up with an answer and complete a concept map to show their thinking. This allows them to share their ideas with the rest of the group. Based on what is then discussed in the class, groups are given the opportunity to change their original judgment. The answer is revealed and students have to connect the event to their prior learning. I usually do this in the form of a piece of extended writing.
  3. Three Tiers of Progress. This is a visual way for the students to see the progress that they are making in the lesson. It can be a display board in the classroom or simply a template displayed on a power point slide. The board is divided into three horizontal columns, each column containing the title “Novice, Apprentice and Expert”. Students either have small pictures of themselves or just their name and move themselves into the category that best suits them at that particular time in the lesson. Students should be using the success criteria in the lesson to move themselves higher up the tiers – the aim is to become an expert in the topic by the end of the lesson.
  4. Progress Checker. This can be a laminated card that can be issued at any point during the lesson. It contains statements that allow students to comment on their progress at different points of the lesson. Examples of statements are  “I feel confident about my progress in this lesson because….”, “The thing that I have found most difficult in this lesson so far is …..”. Statements can be adapted for any subject. Students complete the statements in their book so there is evidence of clear progress.
  5. Are you making progress this lesson? This is best done with a smaller class or where you have the advantage of having a teaching assistant with you. It simply involves giving a red, amber or green dot with a marker pen in the student’s book against a statement that they have made. It is an excellent way to start the lesson. In History, I use it with the bell activity which is usually the key question. The coloured dot represents correct knowledge – red means totally incorrect, amber, some of it is right but it needs improving and green is correct. Students are obviously aiming towards the green dot somewhere during the lesson to show that  they now fully understand.
  6. Mr Wrong paragraphs. Students are given paragraphs that contain deliberate mistakes. This task is used to check understanding of knowledge or for spotting literacy errors. However, I often use it as a combination of the two as there is so much emphasis placed on improving literacy in every subject. This could be used to check for understanding of knowledge or used for spotting literacy errors (or a combination of the two).
  7. Enquiry Based Learning or KWL Charts. These are similar to the progress clocks in that they check what the students already know, what they would like to know by the end of the lesson and what they have learnt during the lesson. They need to be used in conjunction with the lesson objectives so that the right questions can be asked.
  8. Tactical Titles. What can be easier than having the student write a title in their book such as, ‘What I know now’,   ‘Pre-assessment’, ‘Draft 1’, ‘First attempt’? Students complete the relevant information under each title. The more they are used throughout their books, it becomes very easy to see that progress over time has been demonstrated.
  9. Exit Tickets. Most teachers will have used these in one way or another. Some use post-it notes for a student to write down what they have learnt during the lesson. Mine are a printed ticket for each students that are handed out towards the end of the lesson. They contain the titles, “Three things that I have learnt, Two questions that I would like to ask and one final reflection”. Exit tickets help with the planning of the following lesson as you can get a good idea of which aspects of the lesson the students did not fully understand.
  10. Marking and Feedback . I know – this is what we all hate the most!  Detailed marking is time consuming but I truly believe it is the best way for students to make progress. I use the system of including an empty yellow box after a piece of written work. I give feedback in the form of “What went well” and “Even better if ” comments. It is the responsibility of the student to act upon the comments given and make the improvements in the highlighted yellow box. The box also highlights the progress that the student has made. Students act upon their feedback at the beginning of the next lesson. We call this “DIRT” time – dedicated improvement and reflection time.

So there you have it. Ten easy ways to show progress in a lesson. I would expect that there are many more which we do on an everyday basis without even thinking about it. Why don’t you add to my list?

Gillian Galloway, Head of History, Acklam Grange School.