Can A Fixed Mindset Be Changed?

After my students thought & wrote about growth mindset, Dave Tamblyn challenged us to think about people who have a fixed mindset.

Thank you Colleen for sharing this. What a great exercise! I wish I had been there to have heard the discussion. I am particularly interested in hearing from those students who typically don’t have a growth mindset – the ones who say they are not artistic before they have even taken their first class. After watching the videos and hearing the comments from their classmates has their fixed mindset been undermined? In terms of interventions for students with a fixed mindset you say you offer reassurance and encouragement. Do these strategies work? Are their other intervention strategies?

My classes were ready to share their thoughts right away.


“I think someone can go from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset if they really want to & work hard enough with the right motivation and encouragement.”

“I think that you can change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset by surrounding yourself with encouraging people that want you to do good, and being open to try new things and experiment with them because you never know what you’ll be good at.”



“I think the way for someone with a fixed mindset [to] transition into a growth mindset is by slowly trying new things, slowly reaching out of their comfort zones.”

“In some ways I believe that people that have a fixed mindset are stuck to what they know and stubborn in some ways.  To get from a fixed mindset, I believe that if they at least one point in their life leave what they know and experiment, not only are they leaving their fixed mindset but they are growing because of experimenting.”



“I think that if somebody puts their mind to it, they can change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.  Although, it may take a long time because it doesn’t seem like something you can change in a snap.”

“I think someone can change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset by believing they can do something and to not give up.  Also, try out new things because you learn from failure.  You have to be passionate about practicing and learning.”



“I think if someone has a fixed mindset, they can change to a growth mindset by themselves or get help, but it is their own choice.  If they are not willing to, they won’t.”

“I find that in some ways I have a fixed mindset like when I started art, I right away thought that I would have a bad mark because I “sucked” at art.  After realizing if I work hard I can actually be pretty good I think I [developed] a growth mindset.”



“I don’t think there is any way for somebody to change their mindset because that’s how they live their life.”

“You change your mindset by not being stressed or [by] being positive.”



“You can change if you’re happy.  [A fixed mindset] is just being lazy.”

“I think you just need to believe and be patient with yourself.  Things take time and if you give it that, you can do anything.”



“You can tell them that if they actually try, they will.  You have to give positive energy so they will believe that they can do it.”

“I think someone can go from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset if they really want to & they work hard enough with the right motivation and encouragement.”


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Last Friday, I participated in a Leadership Learning Team meeting with other educators in our school board.  It was a great opportunity to think about the way we teach, and we were challenged to share this learning with others.  This might have meant other teachers at my school, but I wanted to take it a step further.  Besides talking about these ideas with my children at home over the weekend, my students had the opportunity to look through the videos and respond to some questions today in class.


We discussed the growth mindset as well as the idea that #YouCanLearnAnything.  For some reason, it wasn’t easy for me to talk about this with my students, because I felt that it was getting a bit too real.  A lump was forming in my throat because these ideas are at the heart and soul of any great classroom.  Teachers always hope that students will do their best, will push their limits, and move on to lead successful lives.  I mean, who hasn’t been inspired by movies like Freedom Writers or To Sir, With Love…?


In art class, I often hear students say that they have no talent, or that they’re not artistic. Even before attending their first class, they have convinced themselves that they won’t do well.


What better way to respond to fear than to offer reassurance and encouragement?  By simply understanding the notion that we can train ourselves and improve our skills, we can begin to make the decision to move forward.  When we share this knowledge with students, we empower them.

Students may wonder if these ideas only apply to specific people;  those who struggle, those who succeed, or maybe even those who have talent…

A growth mindset is the ability to keep learning thinks despite failure. Success depends on the effort of a student, not the intelligence.

As I student I see myself struggling with this concept because when I am praised for my natural intellectual ability I have a hard time pushing myself when times get tough. However, I believe I do have a growth mindset because my work effort and ambition is reflected through my school work. This video scientifically proved that my effort does pay off, and I should continue my hard work in order to achieve my goals, and continue to grow.    (Olivia)


Hopefully more students will begin to see the benefits of hard work.  If we talk about growth mindset in classes, our students will be given the opportunity to work on their skills.  Bit by bit, as they push themselves further, they may discover that limits were only simple fears that fade away when we face them.  Pretty soon, those limits will continue to dissolve as students walk through the ghosts of former concerns.








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Conditions for Learning


One question from yesterday’s session is still unanswered, and that bugs me.  A lot.

How am I going to lead this learning when I return to my school?


I was thankful to be included in this year’s Leadership Learning Team, and was inspired by the wealth of resources shared by educators in our board.

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Please click on the picture to read my Storify.

In all honesty, I’m still digesting all of this information.  I feel like I need to sit down with some of the people who ran yesterday’s activities to clarify that I understood what they were trying to convey.  There was simply so much “great stuff” to process, and I don’t want to miss the points that they were trying to make, especially when I’m being asked to help lead this learning when I return to school.

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Yay, Report Cards.

Do you have any idea how good I am at procrastinating?  Absolutely fabulous.  Especially when it comes to calculating report card marks and writing comments.  My house will suddenly become spotless (even the ring around the tub will vanish), my laundry will be washed and folded…  I might even catch up on writing a blog post or two.  But that daunting task of evaluating will be ignored until the last minute.

Have a peek at Brandon Grasley’s post about Improving Report Card Comments With a Checklist.  You’ll see that it isn’t exactly the most thrilling experience for him either.  In fact, I’ll bet that most people would agree that the process of assessing student work is so much more beneficial to the working relationship between teacher & student than that of ranking the success of a variety of projects and tests in order to come up with a number that somehow represents the knowledge attained by each child in class.

So, I did just that.  Rather than writing a comment filled with ‘edu-babble’, I wrote my comments so that they were understandable, meaningful and might be used to help my students.  My test:  I read each one with my students today in class.  If it didn’t make sense to them, or wasn’t quite right, they had the chance to let me know.  They were asked to tell me if it reflected their experience, and if anything should be changed.  I was especially grateful for the students who had recommendations for edits that better represented their strengths and next steps for learning.

After chatting with each student, I realized what a great opportunity we just took advantage of.  They realized that I cared about their individual goals and wanted to help them find the best way to reach their next step.  They became a bit more confident knowing that they were a partner in this learning experience; that the word of the teacher isn’t the “be all and end all”.  This classroom, this place where we meet five times a week, isn’t just a place for the teacher to play boss.  This is a place where we figure things out.


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#BIT14, Day 2 & 3

Bring IT Together was phenomenal.  Almost overwhelming.

My friends (colleagues) and I were able to attend #BIT14 thanks to our TLLP project, a professional learning opportunity funded by the Ministry of Education.  Last year, Jenni Scott-Marciski and I attended the conference and immediately wanted to find a way to come back with other educators.  Now that we have absorbed as much information as possible, we feel ready to start working toward our TLLP goals with renewed vigour.


Day 2 of the conference began with a great keynote by Richard Byrne, followed by a variety of fantastic sessions.

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to speak about “Personalized Learning Through Assessment“, a topic that is both challenging and rewarding.  If you would like to view my resources, please click here.  After my session, I hustled to make sure that I could attend Peter Beens’ “Digital Photography” presentation.  It was worth it!  I’ll be reviewing Peter’s slides a few times to help the information sink in.

Kendra Spira started off the afternoon with “Capturing Student Learning in the Secondary Classroom“, where we learned about her experiences with technology and the benefits it provides for students with a wide array of learning styles.  Excellent work!  Stepan Pruchnicky‘s “Mash It Up” was next on the agenda, and I’m so glad I went.  His multimedia presentation was highlighted with student work, helping to illustrate how to use ideas and resources in the classroom.  It sure is fun to learn about a few new tools to play with.

Thursday night’s Photo Walk was a definite highlight from #BIT14.   Peter Beens gave this beginner some very helpful tips, and our group enjoyed a mild evening while we strolled around Niagara Falls to capture some new memories.

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Ron Canuel gave an impassioned keynote address on Friday morning, challenging us to look beyond that which makes us comfortable.  In fact, he encouraged us to become very uncomfortable in order to make progressive changes in education.  In our professional life, do we accept the status quo, or are we willing to innovate?  Have we transformed our practice to benefit students?  Why should we?  How do we?

Next stop:  “The Networked Leader“, with George Couros.  Make sure you’re awake and ready to connect, because George is ready to Google you, to see how you present yourself online, and to help you make the most of networking.


“If you’re not connected, what are you missing out on?” ~ @gcouros

One of the most celebrated events of #BIT14 was the #selfiescavanger — we grabbed our phones and captured tons of great memories.  Here are a few…

Thank you so much to the organizers of #BIT14.  This conference is a fantastic opportunity to learn, connect, and to change.

Some kind feedback.  Thank you.


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#BIT14, Day 1


What would you wish for in a conference?

Spectacular scenery?  Great venue?  Great friends?  An opportunity to learn?


#BIT14 is the place to be.

I was so fortunate to have the chance to present with Derrick Schellenberg & Maureen Asselin today.  We spoke about TVO’s TeachOntario, a new online space for Ontario educators to meet, collaborate and learn.  Thank you to TVO for this fantastic opportunity!

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Click the picture to view the presentation


Bonus:  my very own Polkaroo shirt!  (Thanks, TVO) :)

Please check out TVO’s Storify (click on the picture):

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Fly on the Wall

I just read a post written by Melissa Purtee, entitled “Just Wow“, and am reminded of the power of being a connected teacher.  Before the days of using a blog, Twitter, or even a Facebook group, to reach out and share ideas with other educators, I often wished that I could visit other classrooms.  I wanted to make contact with teachers whose work I admired and watch them in action.  This is still a lingering desire, but it’s so much easier to learn about great pedagogy by reading through the reflections of enlightened educators.

On this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, I would like to thank all of the teachers who are willing to share a part of their experiences with the rest of us.



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