Principal’s Message

Success in Mathematics and Growth Mindset

Thank you to all parents who attended our APA meeting last night. Tracey and I had the opportunity to share the latest research on the impact “growth” mindset versus “fixed” mindset has on student performance, especially as it relates to the learning of Mathematics. There is a real damaging myth:  the idea that some people are born with a “math brain” and that some are not. From the early developmental years, many children believe they are either “good at math” or “not.” This is what we call a “fixed” mindset. Students or adults that see their abilities as fixed, whether they are naturals or the opposite, both avoid challenge and lose interest when things become difficult. Conversely, when they believe and understand their abilities are “developed” and therefore, “learnable,” so, having a “growth” mindset,” they more readily adopt learning-oriented behaviours such as perseverance, risk-taking, patience, problem-solving, and math reasoning, to name a few. Research on brain plasticity actually shows that people with growth mindsets have more synapses happening (new neurons formed) in the brain, for example, every time they make mistakes, which make the brain grow! This has huge implications for schools and home, as we can significantly change students’ mathematical trajectories by what we say and do with children as they learn mathematics or when they are faced with challenging problems.

Our words are so powerful when it comes to the success of students, especially as it relates to Mathematics. I know as adults and parents, we can all reflect back to our school experiences and stories from math class, which led to how we feel about learning mathematics today. It’s really important for us at school and home to praise children for their potential and effort that goes into their work/problem solving. This is instrumental in children developing this growth mindset. We want to be moving away from praising students for their intelligence (fixed mindset). In the classroom this would translate to providing an environment that encourages students to make mistakes and struggle through things, as a positive experience, knowing they are learning to a higher level when this happens, and that their brain is actually growing!

At Allenby, we have a team of 11 teachers who are taking an online credited course with Tracey and myself now, offered by Stanford University and led by Professor Jo Boaler. Her research on growth versus fixed mindset has shifted our knowledge of math.  This team of Allenby educators are using the research and information from this course in their classrooms and in discussions in how to share this knowledge school-wide next year.

The video link below was shared at the APA meeting, which explains how we can shift our thinking and actions to develop a growth mindset to build our students’(and our own) math abilities:

The Power of Belief: TED Talk by Eduardo Briceno

An article is also attached: Unlocking Children’s Math Potential, which summarizes five recent studies on this growth mindset evidence along with Growth Mindset Advice for Parents.

Volunteer Breakfast

Next Tuesday, June 6 we invite parents who have volunteered at Allenby this year to join us for a breakfast in the library 8-9 am. This allows us the opportunity to thank you for your support.

FDK Open House

Next Thursday, June 8, 9:15-10:30 am we will be hosting a Kindergarten Open House for junior kindergarten students and their parents. Invitations were provided at registration. We look forward to meeting new families on the 8 and sharing a glimpse of what next year has to offer at Allenby.

Sandra and Tracey