The Malleable Mind

Melanie WeitzAs I was reading the article Mind-Sets and Equitable Education by Dr. Carol Dweck, I was intrigued by a part in the student’s mind-sets section that discussed how we can change our mindset because our brain can actually grow, just like a muscle.

Each time we challenge ourselves and learn something new, the neurons in our brain make new connections and over time we become smarter.  Having a malleable mind is what makes us and our students capable of learning anything.

One of the ways we can encourage brain growth in our students is by teaching them how to process failures.  Failure does not need to be a negative experience, as it tends to be with many of our children.  Failure is a way for us to learn.

When my class would take a test I always gave the opportunity for them to make corrections on the problems they got incorrect.  They would take their graded test, open their notes, and show work to support a new answer with evidence. I would then take the new answers and rescore the test.  This gave my students the opportunity to continue learning and not give up when they saw their final grade.

If I could do this all over, the one thing I would change is putting a grade on the paper at all.  Instead, I would mark answers that were incorrect, but put no grade on the paper until after the corrections had been made.  I think this would have solidified the opportunity to grow.

When we share with our students that with a lot of practice and effort they can condition their brain to grow and strengthen new knowledge, we give them hope that they can learn, thus increasing their motivation to keep trying.

The short video clip on our growth mindset page dedicated to failure gives some great examples of our malleable mind.

About the author: Melanie Weitz serves as the Florida Department of Education’s teacher liaison. Before joining the department, Melanie taught fifth grade for seven years in the Tampa area. You can contact Melanie at Melanie.Weitz@fldoe.org or on Twitter at @MelanieWeitzFL

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One thought on “The Malleable Mind

  1. I love your approach of allowing them to make the corrections, giving them the feeling that the previous incorrect work was, in fact – just not yet resolved. It definitely makes a difference ! 🙂

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