The aim of the project was to improve maths mindset within the school and at home, with a strong focus on parental engagement. Primary 7 were taught about growth mindset and its positive effects and then were to become mindset leaders for the rest of the school. The first part of the project focused on the Primary 7 class, exposing the children to mindset concepts, using different strategies for maths calculations, Number Talks, blueprint boards and looking at the concrete, abstract and pictorial approaches to maths.
The next part of the project was doing workshops with parents, run with the mindset leaders (Primary 7). We informed the parents of the mindset work being undertaken in the classroom and helped them understand the concepts. The hope was that parents would then have the skills to help their children and, by addressing their own anxiety, themselves.
Once Primary 7 pupils were confident, they were then meant to go into other classes and teach them about growth mindset in maths. The P7’s would complete maths problems with the other pupils and demonstrate all the strategies they had learned. We felt that the other classes might respond better to and be more engaged with other children.
Overall, the project went to plan, albeit it did start a little later. It also took a lot more work than anticipated to get the P7’s equipped to become mindset leaders:
In future, we would focus much more on the initial class as their attitude really changed. To get them to become mindset leaders required a few actions that were not planned but were really important. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time to fully implement the parent’s workshops or the P7 children going into other classes.
Due to other commitments within the school, the project commenced a few months later than expected. It then took three months to implement growth mindset leaders within the P7 class. This was far longer than expected and should have been when we moved onto parent workshops. However, we felt it was really important to embed growth mindset within the classroom, before asking the children to teach other pupils or parents.
As we were running short of time, and to let the children experience teaching adults about growth mindset, we brought forward the parent workshops before the work with the other classes. We did not deliver as many workshops as we had hoped, though a good start was made and we intend to continue this work. Unfortunately, we also ran out of time for the pupils to get into classes. School closures meant that it was hard to plan for this to still happen.
This project has had a massive impact within the classroom. Although the focus was partly on parental engagement, the biggest impact was within the class. We made many changes that have raised pupil’s awareness of growth mindset and how it can really affect their work.
By giving out problems, rather than just worksheets, for homework, parents were more informed of the work we had been doing. They have been working together with their children and this has led to some positive feedback. Parents reported that the homework was stretching their brain and the pupils too.
One of the main changes that have come from the project is differences to teaching practice. We now let the children experience what it is like to struggle before supporting them. We also make more mistakes within the classroom (some intentional and others not) to show children that we are all human and the value of mistakes. This is reinforced with our ‘favourite mistakes’ poster and children often came out during maths and added mistakes to the wall. If a child made a mistake during their maths, they corrected it on a post-it note rather than rubbing it out, flagging where they went wrong and helping them to identify and understand their mistakes. And we have no maths groups within the classroom. Children work as a whole class and tasks are differentiated, helping us to think about them as individuals. Children now don’t ask about who is in the top group or what the highest level is, because they know they are all working at their own level. There is a more positive attitude within my class during all subjects not just maths.
Pupils now do not give up during maths time and do put all the things they have been taught into practice. They see maths as a positive thing and enjoy it. Hopefully some of these benefits will spread throughout the school and to home, post school closures.
The next step, post school closures, is to continue the project within the current P7 class. We would then like to see the P7’s go into other classes and teach their peers about growth mindset. More parent workshops are also in plan, and we will also take the concepts and approaches of growth mindset into next year’s class. All staff will be informed about the work of the project and supported to implement similar changes within their own classes, given the benefits seen.