Teacher Feature: 

Elizabeth O’Neil                                                                  

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Integration Paper

A few years ago, our teachers and staff were given copies of Mindset to read over the summer. When we started back to school in August, there was general consensus that people loved the book. Our head of school at the time, referred to the book frequently in our faculty meetings as she was very convinced of the importance of Dweck’s work.  Beyond that, there was no organized faculty momentum to support the integration of mindsets.


I was a little reluctant to take this course.. I had already read the book and hadn’t been blown away by the research of fixed and growth mindsets as the evidence that they exist is so obvious.  However, the structure of this Heritage course, has made all the difference. The mindsets have essentially, come alive, as we have looked more deeply into affecting change through the study of mindsets.  The assignments have provided a focus on facets of mindsets that when brought to the surface and examined separately, make it easier to fully understand.  


Creating a mindset workshop has been the most helpful part of the course.  I am convinced that a growth mindset can be taught and supported.  The steps involved in doing that are now in place for September in our workshop design. I have shown the videos to a student I am tutoring this summer who has said she is not good in math, who says she doesn’t like math and is very cognizant of the “group” she has been in.  I asked her if we could revisit this statements about not liking math in a few months. She agreed to that! The videos we chose as introductions to mindsets; she easily grasped and she especially loved the claymation video on brain plasticity.  During our tutoring sessions, we talked about her neurons making connections as proof that learning is taking place. We practiced making growth mindset comments. I am confident that the workshop we have developed will be interesting and exciting for our students.


Last week, as Karen and I were finishing our last collaborative paper, we realized that we need some sort of pre test, some indicators of how students view themselves before we start the workshop. A Mindset Assessment. We are looking at different ways we can fashion statements/questions to get authentic results. We agreed that we’d come up with some ideas and test them out and if we are not receiving the feedback we are trying to get to, we’ll start again from scratch. We were NOT in total agreement as to how statements should be worded so these will be fruitful discussions! This is really exciting to me as we can keep improving and adjusting our workshop based on student response.


Karen and I will begin the Mindset workshop with our math classes the first week of school. I’m certain the 2nd and 3rd grade teachers will be interested in the workshop also. In fact, maybe some students can present mindsets to other classes after going through our “training!”  Mindsets will be a focus in my 2nd, 3rd and 5th grade Math classes all year.  

I plan to chronicle this process on my web page. I’d love parents to watch the videos as well as the students.