Approaching edtech with a growth mindset

You’re a seed. You’re sitting there minding your own business when all of a sudden you are plunged into darkness and covered in a thick layer of dirt and soaked in water. I think we can all agree that this is quite the challenging situation. If put in the place of that seed, many of us might give up and assume that we simply don’t possess the innate abilities to burst forth and grow into something new. It would be easy to imagine that it’s just not in the cards for us because we don’t know what to do next.

I’ve seen this scene play out time and time again in the classroom with learners of all ages, and the metaphor holds true. After more than ten years of working with students from PreKindergarten-higher education, one thing is clear; everyone comes to the classroom with predetermined ideas about their own strengths and weaknesses. Some early elementary students can articulate that they believe they “aren’t good at math.” Middle schoolers avoid writing projects because they think “research isn’t my thing.” Many students believe that they were born destined to be “good” at some things and not others. That’s why it can be extremely challenging at any age to open students’ minds to the idea that growth takes time, and that mistakes are a normal and important part of learning. 

This challenge extends beyond grade school to all stages of learning. Many educators also feel that their own strengths as classroom leaders are in some way a direct result of natural talent. I saw this most clearly while working as a technology director. When providing opportunities for collaboration and professional learning to my staff, I frequently encountered choruses of “computers don’t like me” and “I’m not good at technology”. I countered each of these statements with a specific learning theory: The growth mindset.  

Fixed mindset and growth mindset are widely used terms to describe the beliefs people have about learning and innate intelligence. While often used as a learning theory for students, these terms are less often applied to education leaders. When students believe that strategic effort makes them stronger learners, they are more likely to exert effort and maintain consistent motivation levels (1). Could the same be true for the leaders working in schools, districts, and other organizations? 

Although I’ve left the classroom, I now have the ability to work with educational innovators through my work on the implementation team at Lea(R)n. When the people and organizations we work with choose to utilize LearnPlatform to find, buy, manage, and analyze their edtech, they’re taking a step toward understanding where it’s working in their organization and where barriers or challenges may exist. Just as I would ask my students to focus on the strategies they use to work through complicated projects, I employ a similar strategy when working in the world of edtech management. The data these organizations collect combined with the analytics produced by LearnPlatform create the perfect environment to work on a growth mindset, seek better opportunities to lean into challenges and emerge better and stronger for the journey. When choosing to see challenges as opportunities, it imparts a flexibility to our work and helps us continue advancing. 

Using LearnPlatform’s IMPACT analysis reports, Chrome analytics, and educator feedback reporting, the administrators we work with have the chance to see themselves as learners, especially when taking into consideration some of growth mindset’s most valuable lessons:

  • Even when something doesn't work as planned, it's an opportunity to learn, seek out challenges and dig in your heels in the face of obstacles. 
  • Praise the process, not just the result. It’s important for an organization to understand that good use of resources and strategies is what makes you better at what you do. 
  • When unexpected results appear, face them head on, work smarter and find new paths that will lead to success. 

Cultivating a growth mindset is a challenging journey; it requires an investment of time and energy and the ability to praise not just effort, but effort that leads to outcomes. A growth mindset recognizes the strategies that lead to success, and celebrates the questions we hear all the time when reviewing LearnPlatform analytics: What is this teaching us? Where should we go next? 

"Cultivating a growth mindset is a challenge with #edtech. When unexpected results appear, face them head on." - CLICK TO TWEET

Where do you want your growth mindset journey to take you? Contact us today to learn more about empowering your staff through LearnPlatform analytics and administrator tools.

1) Blackwell, L.S., Trzesniewski, K.H., & Dweck, C.S. (2007). Implicit theories of intelligence predict achievement across an adolescent transition: A longitudinal study and an intervention. Child Development, 78. 246-263