Archive - The Theory of Growth Mindset

September 2017 

Dear Parents,

Many years ago when I was in high school, if I did not do well on a test, my father made me study for a longer period of time for subsequent tests in the same subject.  Most often, the results were much the same, thus proving that more of what is not working, still doesn’t work. It wasn’t until I was in college that I learned how to study smarter. Through trial and error, I learned what worked best for me, which was acting like I was teaching the material to someone else.  At times, this even included full theatrical antics in my dorm room. Odd?  Perhaps, but it worked. I did not acquire my new study skills overnight. In fact, I met with error and failure many times before I figured out what I really needed to do. I probably could have saved myself a lot of stress, disappointment, struggle, and strife had I read the Sue Shellenbarger’s attached article, “Before You Study, Ask for Help.”  Shellenbarger offers sound advice and, in Growth Mindset fashion, addresses the need for students to actively take charge of their learning strategies rather than rely on the traditional, somewhat passive style of rereading the text and highlighting notes, essentially reframing what most of us have relied on for years. This is a fitting article for the start of the school year. 

 

 

June 2017 

Dear Parents,

Normally, I’d be recommending a current article highlighting recent trends in Growth Mindset theory. This time, however, I have a larger “assignment” for parents. We can call it summer reading! Teasing aside, I am recommending Jessica Lahey’s The Gift of Failure, because of its timeliness and because it addresses student resiliency, an issue educators are dealing with more and more each year.   I originally purchased this book because of the growing number of students I see struggling with anxiety and fear. Ironically, I see this in some of our highest achieving students, who, at times, grapple the most with insecurity, lack of motivation, and depression. Lahey seems to do a lot of finger wagging at parents, but if you can get past her reprimands, there is some good advice sprinkled throughout the book. While Lahey’s mission is not to promote Growth Mindset, she certainly supports it and uses its pillars in working with students and parents.

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Sincerely,

Ms. Mullooly
Principal

May 2017 

Dear Parents,

In their article, “Learning and Performance Zones in Sports,” authors Jeremy Frith and Eduardo Briceño apply the concepts of growth mindset to athletics, specifically to practices (learning zones) and events (performance zones).  In short, if the “learning zone” is effective and the athlete is trained to learn and grow during practices, then improved performance will naturally occur during the sporting event (performance zone).  While geared to athletics, the lesson is clear and consistent with what we continually report here at Holy Angels: Focus on the learning, not the grade, and the scores will improve. When students focus on the score/grade, rather than mastering the concepts, they will come up short.  Briceño claims that most of us, while desiring to do our best, spend too much time in the performance zone.  Ironically, this “hinders our growth and ultimately, our performance.”  This article has an added bonus of the author’s TED Talk on “How to Get Better at the Things We Care Most About.”  The lesson is particularly timely as students are nearing the end of the school year and worrying about finals.

Read Learning and Performance Zones in Sports

 

April 2017

Dear Parents and Students,

By now, parents must have heard the news about growth mindset and how to speak to our children about disappointments and challenges.  But do we ever think about ourselves?  We know that high school is the training ground for adulthood.  Students who learn to deal with challenges now will be better equipped to handle future challenges in college and their workplaces and we all know that they truly exist!  This month’s article is a reminder for all of us who did not grow up with the concept of growth mindset and how it might be applicable to our grown-up lives.  It is a healthy lesson for all of us to learn how to stay in the “growth zone.”

Read: What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means

 

 

March 2017

Dear Parents,

We all make mistakes. How we respond to them is what makes all the difference in the world.  The following study proves that students with a growth mindset use brain power to examine the mistake and internalize ways to avoid that mistake in the future.  Students with fixed mindsets are more likely to simply focus on the fact that they’ve made a mistake.  One of the best strategies for improvement is to ask teachers to help students review a previously taken test with them. This way, students can see what they did wrong and teachers can note trends or patterns in the choices the student makes on the test.

Both articles attached share information coming from the same study done by researchers at Moser's Clinical Psychophysiology Lab at MSU:

Read Paying Close Attention to Mistakes Helps Students Learn More, Research on Growth Mindset Suggests
Read Kids should pay more attention to mistakes, study suggests

 

February 2017

Dear Parents and Students,

This is not the first article I’ve shared with parents that recognizes the growing trend of perfectionism in young girls. However, in The New York Times article “Why Girls Don’t Think They are Smart Enough,” authors Cimpian and Leslie cite the power of Carol Dwek’s “learning and effort” over the idea of innate ability.  Apparently, the power of the growth mindset can diminish classic stereotyping and boost confidence in girls. The research focuses on young girls but it is a trend we are seeing on the high school level. The authors also assert that exposure to positive female role models may be one of the best ways of “convincing little girls that they are, in fact, smart enough” thus reflecting the lessons young ladies learn everyday here at Holy Angels and a perfect topic for discussion during Catholic Schools Week.

Read Why Young Girls Don't Think They Are Smart Enough

 

January 2017

Dear Parents,

The beginning of the New Year is the classic time for people to commit to making changes.  For this reason, this month, in lieu of the typical growth mindset article I’d be sharing with you, I am sharing Pope Francis’ suggestions for New Year’s resolutions.  Granted, they are from 2014, however they are timeless.  Pope Francis reminds us that “The Christian sings with joy, and walks, and carries this joy.” He reminds us this joy "should translate to love of neighbor.”  If we are humble, I am sure we can find something here that speaks to each one of us.  In the spirit of love and growth, I offer the Pope’s resolutions. 

Read New Year's Resolutions: The Pope Francis List

 

December 2016

Dear Parents and Students,

Last week, one of our recent graduates stopped in to visit.  She was quick to tell me that Holy Angels prepared her well for college. She said that at her graduation party, an older cousin gave her advice on surviving college: “pick one: sleep, social life or grades.” She was happy to report that, because of her experiences at Holy Angels, she felt that she did not have to “pick one” and that she was thriving in all areas of her life.  This was not the first time I’ve heard the negative phrase, nor the positive response of one of our alumna. So it was fitting to come across this article, one of a series of three, which offers advice to students heading to college. I like Jasmine Yamanaka’s advice in this article. She advocates that students think about their final goals and assess if the way in which they are spending their time will help them reach that final outcome. It is great advice. More importantly, she highlights growth mindset as a life skill, rather than an educational skill that simply culminates in higher academic grades. Here at Holy Angels, we are known for academics, however, it is not our goal to produce cookie cutter success stories.  It is our hope that each student will find her own unique gift and then figure out a way to share that gift for the betterment of others, for isn’t it in giving we receive?~A wonderful reminder to stay focused on our priorities, especially at this time of year. 

Read Defeating the College Triangle: Lesson Three: Grades

 

November 2016 

Dear Parents,

“Many of life’s big moments require bravery” claims Christen Forbes.  Indeed they do!  But what if we’ve silently been training our daughter’s to live “safely”?  Building strong, confident, resilient and brave young women demands that we teach them to nix perfectionism, aim for progress and strive for individuality. Our students’ successes rely on their emotional health as much as their academic prowess. This idea of perfectionism is debilitating and is cause for concern and conversation as this article beautifully summarizes. 

 

Read 3 Things We Need To Teach Our Daughters (And Ourselves)

October 2016

Dear Parents and Students,

Students receive mixed messages regarding their academic performance from various sources, including peers, parents, teachers and counselors. While every constituent wishes only the best for the student, the student is left with an overwhelming feeling of pressure, dissatisfaction and need for perfection.

In his article, “Too Smart to Fail”, Joseph Holtgreive demonstrates how a true love of learning is the quintessential ingredient for academic success and asserts that if one focuses on the learning, the grades will follow, something we’ve been saying at Holy Angels for a few years. The context for Holtgreive’s assertions come from his experiences as a Dean in Northwestern but make no mistakes; we’ve seen the same circumstances and results right here with our own Angels. I encourage you to read this month’s article and then consider ways in which you might foster a joy of learning in your own homes as we continue to work towards that goal in school as well.

Read Too Smart to Fail?

September 2016

Dear Parents,

The language we use can sometimes hinder the growth of our students.  I have thought to myself on many occasions, "I am just not mathematically inclined."  Now I see that I've predetermined my weaknesses instead of appreciating the struggle, and I've seen this with many students as well.  And proof that the brain, our greatest muscle, can grow and shrink? Very interesting indeed.  I hope you enjoy this month's article.

 

Read 'Not a Math Person': How to Remove Obstacles to Learning Math

 

May 2016

Dear Parents and Students,

On May 1 your senior daughter will make a momentous decision in her life: where to deposit for college. The article below provides a framework in which that decision should occur. Wherever she decides, please share this article with her and let her know that the really important thing in her life can be attained at any college in which she feels at home. It also applies to those who are in process of planning for college.  

As always, please feel free to Comment or to pass on to others.

Click here to read: Four Questions Before College

April 2016

Dear Parents,

This month, as I work with the freshman class on Growth Mindset, I am asking them what is their greatest challenge to learning at Holy Angels. The universal answer is not surprising: remaining focused! Of course, the great distractor is technology. They are doing their homework and take a 15 minute break that turns into two hours on YouTube. Their cell phones ding that yet another text message has arrived. In the classroom, the temptation to check their email prevents them from hearing what their teachers or peers are saying. 

We know that to be prepared for the future we must learn how to balanced technology with being present to the moment and the task at hand.

This month’s article details those struggles and would make a great jumping off place for a conversation with your Angel.

Please feel free to email me with your thoughts or comments.

Age of Distraction: Why It's Crucial for Students to Learn to Focus

February/March 2016

Dear Parents and Students,

Part of adopting a Growth Mindset includes a new attitude towards learning and the mistakes that we make along the way. Our characters will be strengthened when we believe that our abilities are not fixed, that we can always learn from different situations, and  should not be frightened of the risks those may entail. Well, it seems that  colleges  are now coming around to this view. The national newspaper, Education Week has published two commentaries on these very topics. One describes how revealing our imperfections, the things we need to work on and the mistakes that we have made and learned from turns out to be a great strategy for writing a college essay. You will be enlightened by “A College Essay is not a Selfie”

The second talks about service. What does a college want to see in a young person in terms of service? It turns out that they want to see something very like the Holy Angels approach to service, an activity that is done because  the student has made a deep commitment to helping that group, that cause, that facility. The desire to make a difference in the world, to be selfless not self-centered is key. “College Admission 2.0: Service Over Self” is a must read.

As always, please feel free to forward these articles to any family looking into the  college admissions process or anyone interested in learning more about Growth Mindset.

Read "A College Essay is not a Selfie"
Read "College Admission 2.0: Service Over Self"

January 2016

Dear Parents,

As we approach midterms, I offer two items that may be useful in helping your Angel to overcome the challenges they entail. The first is a delightful video clip created by Benedict Carey, the education reporter for the New York Times. In it, he shares the latest research from neuroscience on  how a student should study. It has several surprising findings in it. The second article, also from the Times, presents the positive side of testing along with the most productive attitudes that students can adopt toward these stressful situations. As you can see from the title, it promises benefits we could all use. I hope you will read, watch and share these insights with your family.

I welcome your  comments and reactions.
"Changing the Environment" Video
New York Times Article, How Tests Make Us Smarter

December 2015

Dear Parents and Students,

Throughout the month of December I will be working with the class of 2019 in small groups, teaching them the most effective techniques to prepare for comprehensive midterm exams.  In mid- November, Holy Angels offered a workshop entitled, Parenting from a Growth Mindset. That presentation is being shared with all of you via the link below in the hopes that it will assist you in strengthening  the skills you need to communicate with your Angel. Many parents in attendance were also pleased to share their own strategies, and those have been included here in a separate attachment. Collective wisdom is the best!  We know it takes a village. 

Please let me  know if you have any comments or feedback to share.
Click here to view the Growth Mindset Presentation

November 2015

Dear Parents and Students,

You may be faced with a discouraged Angel at home right now because she has received a Mid Quarter report detailing areas in which she needs to improve. The article for this month talks about  how to approach that very situation.  I hope all Holy Angels parents will find it useful in talking to their daughters.  I also invite parents to attend the November 16 workshop on Parenting from a Growth Mindset in the Learning Commons at 7pm. 

Read How to Give Your Child The Gift Of Failure Article
Click here for more information about the Parenting from a Growth Mindset Workshop

As always, please email me with any comments.

 

October 2015

Dear Parents and Students,

After a long summer, we all need a refresher course in what we learned last year. For those parents and angels who are familiar with growth Mindset theory, the article that follows will feel like an old friend.

For those parents that have not read Dr. Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: the New Psychology of Success, this article  serves as a succinct introduction to the theory that has become such an important part of a Holy Angels education.

Please feel free to pass it along to others who may be interested. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.
Growth Mindset Parenting Article

September 2015

Dear Parents and Students,

Happy New Year!!

We welcome the arrival of this academic year of celebration at Holy Angels. As we enter our second year of instructing students in Growth Mindset theory, I thought this article by Thom Markham would serve as a good entry point into Growth Mindset  theory for those unfamiliar with it, as well as those who might need a refresher to clear out the summer cobwebs.  While Dr. Markham  addresses the topic from the perspective of the Placebo Effect, we know that neuroscience supports the physical changes in the brain that occur when positive messages  are communicated and then internalized by the student. Please consider reading this article with your Angel and pass it along to anyone who might benefit.

As always, I welcome your comments and reactions.
What Believing in the Possibilities Can Do For Learning and Teaching, KQED.org

Dear Parents,

We all have hopes and dreams for our children. We want to keep them safe, to see them succeed. How we communicate those dreams and desires is what can make the difference in how our children live out their lives and relate to the wisdom figures that seek to guide them. In this powerful article from the New York Times you will read how one community desperate for answers is confronting the problem of the unspoken or overt messages we communicate to those we love most.
It is not surprising that this article prompted strong pushback from parents who found the approach unrealistic. Can we be tough minded, yet phrase the message in such a way as it empowers instead of deflating our children? Using Growth Mindset at Holy Angels has convinced us that we can. 
As always, I look forward to your comments.
Push, Don't Crush, the Students - NY Times.com

Dear Parents,

Last month we challenged the Class of 2018 to sit down with their parents and talk to them about the Growth Mindset Theory. After watching a video clip about it they each took a quiz that measured attitudes towards learning. They recorded the results for me and found the assignment so worthwhile that I thought our entire community might benefit from the same discussion. A short pdf file explaining the theory is followed by a quiz that you can take to measure your own mindset. The scoring guide follows it. Feel free to share the results with your Angel. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
Download the file here»

Dear Parents, 

With the best ever registration in Holy Angels history, it is time to consider the reasons why a Holy Angels education is attractive to families. I would like to think that our efforts to create and sustain a Growth Mindset in our student body (in particular the class of 2018 has played a part in this success).

This month’s article, The Three Most Important Questions You Can Ask Your Teenager» suggests what can happen when students without a Growth Mindset have as their goal gaining admission to an elite college. When parents and students focus on the outcome instead of the process, they lose sight of the real reason for learning, service and participation in activities. Students who obsess over grades can become confused, discouraged and despondent about the reason for all their hard work, and if the outcome is not what they expected, the letdown can be very hard, indeed. 

Please take the time to read this article, discuss it with your daughters, share it with your friends, and, as always, email me your thought and comments.

P.S.  Parents of 9th graders will have the opportunity for dialogue with their daughters when the freshmen come home this month with a lesson plan that surfaces these very important questions. 

 


Dear Parents, 

The end of a semester is an excellent time for students to reflect on what they have learned, and where they want to go next. Goal setting, far from a frivolous exercise, can be a powerful motivator, if done for the right reason. The below article in our continuing series on growth mindset addresses the issue and will help you talk to your angel about the proper context of her semester report card. Reflect on the learning. Is the grade the goal or the guidepost?

The Four Rs of Turning Students into Learners»

Please contact me with comments or questions about this or any of the other articles that  we have shared this academic year.

 


 

Dear Parents, 

This month’s article recalls the title of a famous western novel and movie, “True Grit.” Grit is defined as dogged perseverance in the face of obstacles. With mid-term exams fast approaching, your Angel may need to dig deep to find this characteristic in herself. The concept of grit as a component of academic success has been studied for several years by psychologist Dr. Angela Duckworth. She even created a scale for use in measuring one’s grit. Click on this article for additional insight into this concept of "Grit"»  You can see how you measure up on the grit scale by clicking here» You can help your daughter to succeed by urging her to focus on her long-term goal and the need to keep working incrementally until the goal is met. Remember, it is only failure if you quit trying; until then it is learning.

I wish all our Angels the best as they prepare themselves for this challenge.

Dr. Angela Duckworth's TED talk below is also worth reviewing.

 


 

Growth Mindset & AHADear Parents, 

With Midterms approaching, teachers will be preparing study guides and test outlines for students to use during the Christmas break. This two week hiatus is a great time to prepare for the comprehensive exams. For our ninth graders these exams may be the first ones they have ever taken that requires them to work with such a large volume of material. 

Knowing HOW to prepare for these tests is vital. Students who pull all-nighters  deprive their brains of the much needed time to integrate  what they are studying. Likewise, students who “read over” their notes many times may find that they do not know how to answer analytical questions. They mistake familiarity with learning! The following article presents the best strategies for studying currently available to us. They are based on neuroscience and may surprise  you!  

Please feel free to share with your Angels, your family or friends.  
As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Article: Smart Studying Strategies»


 

Sincerely,

Jennifer Moran

Principal 


 

Growth Mindset & AHADear Parents, 

This month’s Growth Mindset article takes us deeper into the concept of resilience. Life comes replete with struggle. A rigorous college preparatory curriculum can present challenges to students who previously sailed through their lessons. How can you as a parent help your daughter bounce back after disappointments? How can you communicate with her in a way that fosters a growth mindset? This article from Better Homes and Gardens describes a communication technique the author calls “flipping the script.” The scenarios included will be familiar to you. What may be new is how your response can be reframed to achieve a positive result. Your thoughts and comments would be most welcome as we continue to explore this this theory.

Article: How to Raise Resilient Kids»

 

Sincerely,

Jennifer Moran

Principal 

 

September 2015

Dear Parents and Students,

Happy New Year!!

We welcome the arrival of this academic year of celebration at Holy Angels. As we enter our second year of instructing students in Growth Mindset theory, I thought this article by Thom Markham would serve as a good entry point into Growth Mindset  theory for those unfamiliar with it, as well as those who might need a refresher to clear out the summer cobwebs.  While Dr. Markham  addresses the topic from the perspective of the Placebo Effect, we know that neuroscience supports the physical changes in the brain that occur when positive messages  are communicated and then internalized by the student. Please consider reading this article with your Angel and pass it along to anyone who might benefit.

As always, I welcome your comments and reactions.
What Believing in the Possibilities Can Do For Learning and Teaching, KQED.org

Dear Parents, 

Growth Mindset CNN Article LinkYour daughters continue to be a source of pride and wonderment to all of us at Holy Angels. We know that their success is the product of hard work and determination. But sometimes when setbacks occur they can be very hard on themselves and instead of seeking help they internalize a sense of failure and powerlessness. 

I have often asked students why they did not seek help from the teacher before or after a difficult test. The answers include,” Miss Moran, I don’t want my friends to know that I could not do it on my own.”  
 
"It is so embarrassing to ask for help.”
 
Growth Mindset & AHAThis CNN article is the first in a new series on the theory of Growth Mindset. Throughout the year we will explore how this set of beliefs, this attitude can have a dramatic impact on how your daughters learn; how much they enjoy school, and how they can remain healthy, optimistic and less stressed. Please share it with your family and friends. I look forward to your comments.

 


Sincerely,

Jennifer Moran

Principal 

 

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