The focus of this project was to improve attainment, engagement, and attendance. This was decided following consultations with the Senior Leadership Team. It was also aligned to the focus in the school improvement plan on mindfulness as a means of supporting learner’s health and wellbeing, following disruption from covid. The key aims of our project were:
We planned to achieve these aims through a series of lessons which would focus on the brain, its structures, and its functions. By teaching about the brain and training our pupils daily in mindful practice, we hoped the children would be able to develop resilience, embrace challenge, and view mistakes as part of the learning process.
The target audience for this project was P4, P6 and P7, where we had members of our mindset team who could support their stage partner to also deliver. We decided to meet regularly as a team to support each other and review progress. Aware of the need to measure the effectiveness of the project, we designed a questionnaire which looked at attitudes towards growth mindset before we started and afterwards. We supplemented this with focus group interviews.
After reviewing the project, we believe that we have met the three main aims. The first was to improve resilience and positive attitudes towards learning. Second, was to teach strategies to manage failure and negativity, and the last was to help children recognise and celebrate being different and unique.
When comparing our pre and post data, some learners did not make the link between mindfulness and growth mindset. They may have misunderstood the question as they gave other learning strategies in response, such as counting on or sounding out. If we were to repeat the project, we would be more careful with the wording or spend more time explaining it before allowing children to answer.
However, when looking at the evidence from the focus groups, interviews. and observations, we saw that the children were more resilient and more likely to persevere when facing a challenge. Some pupils were more knowledgeable about how the brain works and how to calm down, regulate their emotions and express themselves. There might have been some skewing of responses because the children were interviewed by their own teachers, who they might have wanted to please.
Certain children (AZ and DB in 7B) were working on third level for many aspects of the curriculum. They were very capable, but in the past had struggled when faced with challenges as they were not used to feeling ‘stuck.’ Throughout the course of the project, these children have been observed to be better at managing emotions and expressing how they feel when faced with unfamiliar tasks. They display a more positive attitude to learning and improved engagement and resilience. Teacher observations also noted the children using more positive self-talk and encouraging words to each other.
The original timeline that the mindset team planned was as follows:
For the most part, our timeline was accurate, with only a few adjustments. The training of staff to deliver mindfulness practices was impacted by staff absences and other issues. There was also a change with one of the mindset team members which required a bit of retraining. Overall, our mindset group were able to stay on track and minimise any disruption to this project.
We introduced growth mindset to the children through a series of ten lessons as follows:
These lessons were able to go ahead with minimal disruption and were reviewed and discussed by our team on a frequent basis. We had some difficulties again around absence and having to accommodate student teachers. During this period, we also introduced daily mindfulness practice, in addition to gathering evidence from the children and meeting with our target groups.
We were keen to note any changes in our children’s ability to focus and their attitudes towards challenge. Those involved in the project met regularly to share evidence and discuss key themes. We did encounter some challenges during these months. Although we were able to keep our project on track, it was difficult to manage daily school commitments alongside this additional undertaking.
Our mindset team had to make a few changes to our plan once the project had started. Our Mindset team leader left to start another post and we had to bring a new teacher up to speed quickly. We also had to invest time in a student teacher who was on placement and would be delivering some of the project lessons. The mindful course we were undertaking ended up requiring more time to complete than anticipated. Overall, we were able to overcome these challenges with minimal disruption to the project.
There were a few notable and meaningful changes in our school and for our learners. Mindfulness was adopted as a whole school approach and mindful practices now take place daily in most classes. Children enjoyed this and always looked forward to taking some time to be quiet, relaxed, and reflective during the school day. Our school’s mindset team were able to use mindfulness as a tool to explore growth mindset.
Pupils enjoyed learning about the brain and how a growth mindset and mindful approach can help them to be better learners and feel better in themselves. This also led to an improvement in the behaviour of some of the children in our classes. A significant impact of the project was an improved attitude towards new and challenging tasks and greater perseverance. We also noted an improvement in the culture of our classrooms.
Data for the project was collected using a variety of different methods. We administered pre and post surveys via our Google classrooms and we conducted focus group interviews. Teachers recorded their observations and kept evidence from post-it note feedback, exit passes, answers on worksheets and other written sources. We were then able to examine the evidence and through discussion with all members of our team, determine that some children have benefited from mindfulness practice and are beginning to show some improvements in terms of their growth mindset and their attitude to challenge.
Some examples of the research conducted on growth mindset attitudes pre and post the project are included below.
As this project was included in our School Improvement Plan, we provided updates to our Senior Leadership Team (SLT) throughout. Our SLT were informed of our timescales and plans for the project in January. They agreed that our timescales were manageable and realistic and were happy with the lessons we had planned and the methods we had decided upon to collate our evidence.
The next steps for our project are to share our final review with our SLT and other staff members. We will be able to discuss, reflect and obtain feedback at this point. If possible, we would like to incorporate growth mindset into some of our family learning next session, to assist parents and make sure children are getting the same messages at home. We will also continue to include daily mindful practices for the rest of this school year and will implement this with our classes next session. We will take time to explicitly teach about the brain and its functions and how to develop a growth mindset. It will also be important to reflect and evaluate our own classroom practices and ensure that teachers are demonstrating a growth mindset.