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March 24, 2012

Thanks to a tweet by George Couros, I read a blog on the ASCD site, What I Wish I Had Known about Motivation by Brian Goodwin that has helped me examine my approach to motivating my students.  At its very basis, Goodwin points to research which indicates it is much better to appreciate a student’s effort than to praise the student’s intelligence.

In the post, he gives a couple of examples.

Here are a couple of examples I’ve drawn from research showing “should” and “should nots” when it comes to teacher talk.

  • Say this (growth mindset) . . . “Your practice is really paying off. You’re getting your math facts down.”
  • Not this (fixed mindset) . . . “Wow, that was quick! You blazed right through those problems! You’re a math whiz.”
  • Say this (growth mindset) . . . “You seem frustrated and tired right now. That means your brain is working hard. We’ll keep at it, and I know you’re going to get it.”
  • Not this (fixed mindset) . . . “Not everyone is a natural at this. Let’s do a few more problems and then move on to something you’re better at.”

This makes a lot of sense to me, and I plan to adjust my approach as I talk with students. 

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