Last year when I taught year 9 (U.S. 8th grade), I had 2 main things I wanted them to remember, and both are strong ideas that I’ve gotten over the years from Jo Boaler, Carol Dweck, and some of the math blogs I follow.

  1. When you try something that’s challenging, your brain grows. This is key in Growth Mindset thinking. You should always try to do something a little too hard so that you have to really challenge your thinking on it. I was able to encourage them to attempt extra challenging problems without fear because they knew it was going to be good for them. A quote that I saw in the ICT room was one that Marissa Mayer has said.

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When I read it, it really struck me and pushed me to try things in my own career that I might not be completely ready to do, but I’m pushing myself to grow. With my students, I used this to encourage them to attempt things that are just above their level.

2. Another strategy I have employed is asking others. When we are working on revision, or other in class tasks, if I answer a question for a student, that student is then expected to answer the same question for someone else that asks it. If they can explain it to someone else, they really understand it.  It also saves me time from answering the same question for 5 people. Some questions will have a trickle down effect. I’ll answer for Jane, then I will send Jack to ask her, then Tom asks Jack, Tracy asks Tom, etc. If they are still confused, they can come back to me, but this helps my students know if they truly understand the topic.