### The Power of Mistakes and Struggle

Welcome to Week Two of our Mathematical Mindsets book study!

The title of this chapter immediately had me hooked, because
who hasn’t made mistakes in math class, right?! I remember being embarrassed by
my mistakes in elementary school, and I was afraid to share my answers for fear
of having done the problem wrong. As a teacher, I work hard to make sure I
instill confidence in my students, letting them know it’s okay to make
mistakes. This chapter has definitely armed me with some research to back that
idea. Even better, it shows that mistakes are actually GREAT for learning!!!
What could be better than that?

Dr. Boaler shares current brain research that speaks volumes
to the power of mistakes. Every time we (or our students) make a mistake,
whether we realize we’ve made one or not, our brain sparks and grows. Our brain
actually grows MORE when we make a mistake than when we get an immediate
correct answer. Revisiting our mindset ideas from last week, brain studies show
that this electrical spark and growth is even greater in people who have a growth
mindset about their mistakes, versus those with a fixed mindset. So, growth
mindset = growth in our brains!

### What was my big takeaway from Chapter Two?

Stop making math about correct answers!! As mentioned above,
I encourage mistakes as part of the learning process and try to make my
students feel comfortable about their mistakes. I am totally guilty, however,
of drawing the smiley-face 100% on math tests and praising those high scores.
This chapter made me revisit my philosophy on math test scores. It’s inspired
me to cheer for the mistakes rather than the correct answers, and constantly
remind students that it is our mistakes that grow our brains! One quote that
continues to jump out at me is on page 13:

My goal is to review my math curriculum (which is very much a “correct answer, all or nothing” type of program) and plan for ways to shift into a mistake-centered math class. I feel like the CCSS Mathematical Practices and positive class discussions around mistakes can definitely help with this, and I’m excited to see how it transforms the mathematical mindsets in my classroom!

My goal is to review my math curriculum (which is very much a “correct answer, all or nothing” type of program) and plan for ways to shift into a mistake-centered math class. I feel like the CCSS Mathematical Practices and positive class discussions around mistakes can definitely help with this, and I’m excited to see how it transforms the mathematical mindsets in my classroom!

###

3 tips to implement:

#### --ONE--

Design and teach an activity that reframes mistakes and
their value. Explicitly teach kids that mistakes are what grow our brains. Dr.
Boaler shares a few on pages 15 -17, and Pinterest is filled with a plethora of
Growth Mindset teaching ideas.

#### --TWO--

Use the “favorite mistakes” teaching strategy from page 17.
Highlight your “favorite mistakes” from student work as a discussion point for
the class. Make this such a common practice that students aren’t embarrassed to
have their mistakes highlighted, but are proud that their brain is growing!
Keep in mind that the mistakes should be conceptual, not numerical, so that the
process is discussed, not the calculations.

####
**--THREE--**

Give challenging work that provokes deeper thought
processes, invites mistakes, and allows for discussion. Don’t give “easy to
answer, easy to get right” questions. Challenges grow our brains, so bring ‘em
on!!

I am so hooked already, and am already brimming with excitement
to change up my math class this year! I can’t wait to keep reading and
discussing with you all. Let’s keep the discussion going in the comments below,
and hop on through the blog links to read other great insights from chapter
two.

See you next Thursday for Chapter 3!