April 1

April-There’s a Difference Between Not Knowing and Not Knowing Yet!

First off, I love all of the practical ideas in this chapter for creating a growth mindset through assessments. It doesn’t just say that a growth mindset can be further developed by using different formats for assessment. The author actually gives use-right-now examples, and even forms that can be copied (maybe enlarged first!) The trouble is, that many of these strategies are excellent for intermediate and secondary students, but not many can be used with the primary students- although some may be adapted to work.


Giving feedback through formative and summative assessment is a part of education. I know from teaching Grade 5, that many students simply look at the mark they are given and then ignore the rest of the information. If they get a “good mark”, they are happy, but if their mark does not live up to their expectations, they can become very sad, even hard on themselves. I always tried to remind my students that these tests were just a tiny snapshot of their learning. I would go through the assessment with them and even give another chance to take the test to help them further their learning of the materials, some took it, others did not. I used rubrics to help them improve their writing, using the same scale for the entire year, so they could see their progression. We also used the Power of Ten All The Facts assessments frequently, so the students could see their progress. I think that the rubrics and All the Facts were the best indicators to the students of their growth over the course of the year. It was incredible for them to see that their practice was helping them to improve.

With all that being said, I know that I have room to grow in my assessment-giving-skills to include a more growth mindset-oriented practice. I love the sliding scale or the green, yellow, red ideas. If ever I am placed back into a classroom, I am going to work on my assessment practices to ensure that I am building up all of the students, not dragging them down when the do not achieve “good” marks. I will find better ways to show them that they are growing in their learning and understanding of the different concepts, including using some of the activities in this book.

  1. How can you incorporate the idea of “yet” into your classroom?
  2. What is one idea that you will try in your classroom to move your assessments to a more growth mindset oriented version?
  3. What are you already doing to show your students their growth in learning/understanding?
March 1

March: Mistakes are Opportunities for Learning

As a perfectionist who struggles with self-esteem and self-confidence, I really struggle with allowing myself the permission to make a mistake and learn from it- however I have definitely made many mistakes in both my parenting and teaching journeys. I am always seeking the approval and reassurance of others to make sure that I am doing a good job. This is something that I am working on. I know that I am not there yet, but I feel that I am getting better.

Einstein was an amazing man, as we all know, but I had no idea what a strong growth mindset he had! I would love to put up his quotes on failure around my house-or at least in my son’s bedroom! He struggles with making mistakes, calling himself dumb or saying that he can’t do something. “It’s too hard” is something that we hear quite frequently. I have been working hard at changing this for him-reminding him that making mistakes is the only way he will learn anything. I think that this is finally starting to sink in with him a bit. I heard him tell his younger brother, who was getting frustrated with his attempts at making a car out of “magnetics,” that it was ok, he needed to calm down and just try again. He offered his little brother some help and together, they created a car that hey could both be proud of. I smiled so widely when I heard that! Now to hear him have this growth mindset when it comes to his school work 🙂

I like the three-step strategy for mistakes outlined on page 147

  1.       Normalize mistakes- kids do need to know that mistakes are part of the learning process and that without them, we are not learning anything at all. This may help them learn to take more risks, knowing that making mistakes is just going to be a part of the process.
  2. Value mistakes as learning opportunities-giving them the knowledge that it is not easy to learn new things,but the more we try and figure things out, the more we learn.
  3. Coach students through setbacks-this will be so important for kids. We, as teachers and parents, need to remember that they do not simply know how to deal with the setback caused by the mistake. Mistakes are very disheartening for some students and having the right strategies to deal with this makes it easier for them to navigate these difficult feelings.


The strategies listed on pages 153-155 are super helpful as well. They are often quite easy and fit in with the idea of UDL.



How do you support your students through setbacks caused by mistakes?

What stood out for you in this chapter? How can this be put in to your practice or daily life?


January 15

Fostering Resilient Learners-Wrap-Up

Well, the book has come to an end, but the learning continues. I have taken many things out of this book, and as I sit here and reflect on my journey through it, I look at some of the key ideas that I have taken out of it.

  1. The idea of self-care- I know that this one seems to be a no-brainer, but I struggle with this on a regular basis. One of my goals for 2018 is to take care of myself in all facets of my life- working on my work-family-self balance.
  2. Not to make the story a child comes with an excuse for their behaviours or allow that to let me lower my expectations for them- remembering that with love and expectations, everyone can rise to the challenge, even those with the biggest disadvantage.
  3. Relationship, relationship, relationship! This is something I have always worked towards with every child, although I know that this is not possible with every child, I need to ensure that I am a safe person, someone that they can go to when they are in need.

I know that there are areas I need to work on and I believe that this book has given me some excellent strategies to help me better myself for the better of my students.

Thank you all for joining me on this journey! I am better for having worked with you through this book! Thank you!


We will be having a book chat at Cross Currents, if you are interested in joining us. It is one of the Bonus Sessions on the Friday morning. Please do grab your breakfast from the foyer and meet us in the session to continue the engaging conversations. We will also be talking about the Growth Mindset Coach as well 🙂


September 1

Part I- Trauma

Chapter 1-

In reading this chapter, I learned a whole awful lot about trauma. I mean, I have worked with students who have experienced trauma and I know that this has a huge impact on their lives both inside of school and out, but when you look at all the possible trauma-inducing incidences, I had no idea the number of students in my small school who may be dealing with trauma without us even knowing it. I loved the piece where the author, Kristin Souers, talks about know that a child has experienced trauma is enough. You do not need to know the whole story to support the child, otherwise you risk getting caught up in their story rather than supporting the child through their experience and the effect that this may have on them. I know that I am one of those people who get caught up in the story. I have used that story as an excuse for the behaviours- “It’s understandable that he is lashing out- his mother just walked away from him again without so much as a good-bye! I would be angry all the time too!”  I am looking forward diving in further and learning ways to better support this young individual.


According to researchers, there are eight adverse childhood experiences that cause trauma in a person’s life and Ms. Souers includes 6 more on top of that. These experiences happen within every socico-economic status, race, religion and gender. That means that no matter what school you are in there will be at least one student who has experienced trauma at some point in their life and is dealing with the impacts of this. The chart on page 21 was extremely shocking to me. Even 1 adverse childhood experience has dramatic effects on attendance, behaviour and health.  A child with 3 or more adverse experiences is 6.1 times more likely to have serious behaviour issues.


The information coming out of this first chapter really hits home for me at the importance of supporting students who have experienced trauma. I know that there are many students within my school who are dealing with trauma and I am certain that there are many more of whom I am unaware.


~What are your initial responses to the prevalence of trauma?  Was there anything that shocked you?

~ Are there any students on your class list that may have had an adverse experience at some point in their life? Maybe they have more than just one? How does the information from this first chapter change how you might approach the students within your class, knowing that they may have had an adverse experience without anyone’s knowledge?

February 22

Thank you!

Thank you all for joining me on the learning journey brought about by the book study! I have really enjoyed reading the comments and learning from you all! I hope that everyone has enjoyed the book and has learned much!


If you have any requests for possible books to look at in the future, I would love to hear from you!


The grants for those who have participated in the book study will come to you in the near future. I will email you if I require any more information 🙂 Please keep posted!


For now, continue to GROW in your mindset and LEARN many new skills!

February 12

Chapters 9 and 10

Chapter 9- What are Some Ways School Staff Can Maintain a Growth Mindset School Culture?

In this Chapter, Mary Cay Ricci discusses the importance of the classroom environment in a Growth Mindset school culture. Classrooms that are safe, caring learning environments are integral in developing and maintaining a school culture that is steeped in a Growth Mindset. This is something I have always striven to achieve for all students. Whether it be in my Learning Assistance classroom or my Grade 5 classroom, I hope that all students feel welcome, safe and secure. How can you tell? Well, my students Grade 5 are not afraid to ask questions or ask for help. The students support each other in their learning and socially. They are there for each other. My students have made the classroom their own, adding their own personal touches (usually mess!). They are happy, cheerful and full of life when they enter the room, throughout the day, and when they leave at the end of the day. The students that come in to my Learning Assistance classroom show that they are in a safe, caring learning environment by dropping in for help when they need it. Students feel comfortable to enter the room to work in groups as well. When a child is having a difficult day, they visit to self-regulate, have a break or just to talk. My Learning Assistance classroom is also used for physiotherapy activities for one student. Even when there are numerous other students in the room, this student feels comfortable in completing her physiotherapy needs. The students are respectful, helpful and polite. They are there because they know it is a place where their needs can be met, they can get support or simply calm down from a difficult situation. It is so very important to ensure that those spaces exist for the students in our school. It is my opinion that no learning can occur when there is not comfort, feeling of safety, or of care by the people within the classroom.

The other piece to that is having a classroom that is differentiated. Ms. Ricci gives a list of “look fors” for differentiated classrooms. All of these “look fors” are fully outlined in Chapter 3. I believe that I am on my way to a differentiated classroom, but I know that I have a long way to go. Especially in the area of  acceleration and enrichment. This is an area I will continue to work toward for the rest of the year.

The most important take-away from this chapter for me was when the author said ” The importance of continually reinforcing the growth mindset message every day cannot be emphasized enough. Maintaining perseverance and effort is a challenge for some students and they need to be continually reminded that they can achieve success.” I have taught the students in my class about having a growth mindset and what that means, but I do not remind them near enough. I will make more of an effort to do so, knowing that I have some very fixed mindset students within the classroom.


Chapter 10- Summary

“Educators teach students, not curriculum. It is time to meet students where they are, expect the best from all of them and provide opportunities for each and every student to succeed.”

This quote nicely sums up the entire book. Every student is capable of learning. Every student deserves to learn. Every student needs to have materials  and opportunities that allow for success. Every student deserves a teacher who believes that they are capable of learning and succeeding. This goes for the students we classify as gifted to the student with the most challenges. No matter who the child is, we need to meet their learning needs in a way that allows them to be successful at the activity.

Although this is the last post for the Book Study , I truly hope that it is not the end of your journey with Growth Mindset. Continue to push yourselves in those areas in which you believe you have a fixed mindset. Remember that you can do anything you put your mind to, anything that you practice, anything into which you put effort. I personally will continue to work on my parenting skills, as well as differentiating my teaching more effectively.


  1.  What ideas do you have for implementing a sustainable school system for maintaining a growth mindset culture in your own schools (or at least your classroom)?
  2. What are some “take-aways” you have brought from this book?
  3. Would you suggest this book to your colleagues? Why?

I wish you all very well in your endeavors! I hope that you have learned as much from this book and book study as I have. Thank you all for your time and your input!

I would also like to invite you to join us for a special luncheon at Crosscurrents. We will be meeting for lunch at Harold’s with Crosscurrents speaker Kristin Wiens, on Friday during the lunch break, to further our discussions about growth mindsets. If you are able to attend, please let me know! I look forward to meeting many of you in person!



February 5

“I Can’t….yet!”

Brandi made a comment in the Chapter 1 and 2 post about am “I Can’t…yet” board. She has sent me a copy of the board for me to share with all of you!


As a staff, we often put up a bulletin board with our pictures and names for any new students who have come to join us. I would love to do something like this next year. I think it would be great to show the students that we are all working towards different goals.

Thank you so much for sharing Brandi!

February 5

Chapters 7 and 8

Chapter 7- Gifted Education and Growth Mindset

All children deserve to have an education to meet their needs, be it below grade level, at grade level or above grade level. Differentiation, as mentioned it Chapter 3, meets all of these educational needs. Is there a need to put a name to above average students if their needs are being met?

According to this Chapter, the word “gifted” comes with similar connotations to “talent” and “smart”. It implies that a child’s intelligence is set in stone, not something that can change. A gifted child is a gifted child, they should not experience any difficulties in the area in which they are gifted. Telling a child that they are gifted may end up being a negative for them, causing them to stop taking risks and playing it safe to ensure that they can keep their gifted status.

Instead of calling a child gifted, Mary Cay Ricci suggests changing the wording. Saying that a child has high potential or is a highly motivated student, in her opinion, would be more akin to allowing for a growth mindset.

  1. What are your thoughts on the terms Mary Cay Ricci suggests using instead of using the term “gifted”?
  2. Does your school or district have any supports in place for “gifted” students? Do these programs support a growth mindset? If not, how might you change it to support a growth mindset for these students?

Chapter 8- What are Some Ways To Help Students Adopt a Growth Mindset?

In my opinion, this is the most important section in the book as it sheds some light into how to teach this topic to the students. A huge part of teaching students about growth mindset is to teach them about the brain. I found this to be a very fun unit for my students. We learned how different pathways are formed and how we can change our pathways with practice and repetition.

We have also been doing a lot of STEM projects and it is very interesting to see which students are beginning to adopt a growth mindset and which students have a fixed mindset. One of my students has such a fixed mindset that when she came up against a challenge, she turned her back on her group, crossed her arms and very adamantly said “I give up!” While other students, when faced with an impossible task- less than 10 minutes to create a working model, when nothing has worked up until that point- said “I know that this is not going to work, but I am not giving up! I am going to use all of my time and try to get it figured out.”

Mary Cay Ricci has also published a book entitled “Ready to Use Resources for Mindsets in the Classroom”. I have not yet taken a look at this book, but I have purchased it and it should be here very soon. I am interested to see what is in this book and how it can help me to support my students on their paths to growth mindsets.

  1. Do you have any students that have demonstrated any moments of growth mindset? Do you have any students that demonstrate a real fixed mindset?
  2. What are some ideas you have for implementing lessons on growth mindset? How or where would you integrate it into the curriculum?
  3. Have you already tried to implement growth mindset lessons? What went well? What might you change?
  4. If you have not implemented  any of the growth mindset lessons, where will you begin?
January 29

Chapters 5 and 6

Chapter 5- How Can Students Learn From Failure?

Failure- such a scary and negative word. To me, failure has always been a glaring demon that rears its ugly head every time I have difficulties at home with my children or my husband. I have never looked at failure as a positive, at least not until having worked through this book. As I mentioned in my “Happy New Year” post, this is an area that has been a huge struggle for me, and it is an area that I am determined to change. Failure should be looked at as an opportunity to learn, to grow and to use those critical thinking skills. It will take a lot of self-talk during those difficult times when I want to think of myself as a failure.

In the classroom, the difficult task will be to teach the students about the benefits of failure. The book suggests that the best way to do this is to teach the students about the brain. There are many videos on YouTube that can help teach about mindsets and the brain.

Here are a couple that I have showed to my classroom:

I also had the students do some research on the brain so that they understood more about the parts to the brain, what neurons do and any fun facts they found that were interesting to them.

Another topic that is brought up in this chapter is that of rewarding students. As someone who has used a lot of extrinsic rewards to motivate my students in my learning assistance blocks, I have a lot to learn in how to use more intrinsic rewards.

1. What is the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic rewards? Give examples of different way you use to motivate your students. Ar they intrinsic or extrinsic?

2. How will you teach your students about the benefits of failure?


Chapter 6- What Messages Should Parents Hear About Growth Mindset?

Everyone knows that parents play a key role in the lives and education of their children and should of course be informed about their learning. It is also very important that they be involved in the education of growth mindset. What a child hears at home can make or break their learning at school. If parents are continually supporting a fixed mindset while the child is at home, it will be very difficult for a growth mindset to sink in.

I have yet to inform my parents about the students’ learning about the growth mindset. I am not sure how to do this effectively. I do know that the students have been talking about the brain while they are at home, but we have not gone much further than that. There is a newsletter blurb example in the appendix of the book to teach/talk to parents about the growth mindset. I am not sure that this would be enough. I also thought that it would be great to have an open house night where the students could teach their parents about the growth mindset. I have also thought that Student-led conferences might be the best time. This is still an uncertain area for me. I am hopeful that I will get a better idea in the very near future.

1. How will you inform and teach parents about growth mindset?

2. What messages should parents hear about growth mindset?

January 22

Chapters 3 and 4

Chapter 3- Differentiated, Responsive Classrooms and Growth Mindset

This is an excellent chapter on how to differentiate in the classroom. It is complete with a quick guide as to how to differentiate, as well as including ideas on how to assess learning to guide teaching.

As a new classroom teacher (I am usually a full time Learning Assistance/ Resource Teacher, but this year I have been teaching .5 in a Grade 5 classroom as well as .5 LART), this chapter has been an excellent support. It goes right along with the Redesigned Curriculum. I have been working very hard to create a differentiated classroom. I feel that this is an ongoing difficulty for me, one that I am going to continue to struggle through as I am sure it will only get easier. I feel that I am doing well with the pre-assessment, getting an understanding of what the students already know about a topic. I feel that I am also getting better with the formative assessments, ensuring that I include exit slips, 3-2-1s and lots of oral questioning at the end of the lessons. It is the flexible groupings, advancement and enrichment that I am struggling with including. I feel like I am more of a lecturer or at least a full group lesson.

1. How does a teacher’s mindset about a student’s learning ability directly connect to the responsiveness and effectiveness of instruction?

2. How do you find differentiating your classrooms? Which practices are you currently using? Which ones are hit and miss?

3. Do you have any tips or tricks you can share for “Differentiation Newbies” to make differentiation more manageable?

Chapter 4- Why is Critical Thinking Important in a Growth Mindset Classroom?

According to Chapter 4, there are three different types of critical thinking: reasoning, making judgments/decisions and problem solving. We need to make sure that students have opportunities to practice all of these areas on a daily basis. The Redesigned Curriculum supports this through project-based learning.

One way that I am including critical thinking into my students’ programming is through the use of STEM projects. It is incredible to see the growth of their critical thinking skills over the course of the year. Unfortunately, this is really the only time I have been including the aspect of critical thinking. During the second half of the year, I hope to include more project-based learning than I have thus far. Since we have been working on perimeter and area, I plan to have the Grade 5s work on a project that I found on Pinterest- creating a Taco Food Truck, fully equipped with a menu, food and, of course, the truck (or at least a scale model of the truck).

1. Based on the ideas from this chapter, why do you believe that critical thinking is important to a growth mindset classroom?

2. How have you incorporated (or plan to incorporate) critical thinking activities into your classrooms? 

3. Compare and contrast your definition of critical thinking with the one presented in the book on pages 55-56.


Next week we will take a look at Chapters 5 and 6.