Growth Mindset and Technology Integration
I was fortunate enough to spend a few days at the ‘Learning Forward’ conference in Boston. One of the recurring themes in the sessions and lectures I attended was that of ‘Mindset’ and, more specifically, the implications of a fixed and growth mindset. This work originates in Carol Dweck’s book and has become very popular in education and leadership. I have always liked the graphic below as a simple representation of some of the central theory to this work.
As I reflect on our work supporting the use of technology across the 78 schools in our school district, and the challenges that this presents, the concept of mindset is very relevant, although not in terms of ‘intelligence’ as much as how we deal with new situations.
In schools where the use of technology is prevalent and effective, I invariably encounter teachers who display evidence of a growth mindset. To expand the terms in the graphic, they embrace challenge, they persist in the face of inevitable setbacks, and they learn with and from others. In schools where there are more challenges when using technology to support learning, there is often evidence of a fixed mindset as outlined in the graphic – people who avoid the challenge, give up at the first sign of difficulty, and are intimidated by the success of others rather than inspired by it.
Think about some of these commonly heard quotes when integrating technology. Are they from a fixed or growth mindset? Do they require an outsider to help or can a change in approach and mindset make that vital difference?
“The network is always down”
“I wonder how my students will respond if I deliver the content this way?”
“What if the students go to a website they aren’t supposed to?”
“What if the laptop breaks?”
“I don’t need a 1:1 ratio to make effective use of what we have”
“My students could never do that”
“Where does that fit in my lesson?”
“I can explore this myself”
“I can figure out how to change my classroom to embrace this change”
“But we don’t have enough technology to go around”
“I haven’t been trained”
“I tried that before but it didn’t work so I wasted my time”
“My students were able to show me what to do when that error shows up”
“I saw amazing things in the classroom I visited and know that I can do that, too!”
As you consider your own use of technology in the classroom, consider your own mindset, approach and expectations. Perhaps more importantly, consider what you will do if things are not as easy or don’t go as well as you want them to. The keys to successful learning in the area of technology integration for teachers are founded in the concepts of the positive mindset – embrace the challenge, persist, see the value in all of your efforts, take on board the feedback from your students, and be inspired and learn with those around you. It is only a matter of time before you are the inspiration for someone else.