Mathematical Mindsets Chapter 1

Happy Thursday teacher friends! I am so excited to be linking up with some other fabulous educators to dig into Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler. You’d think now that I’m done with my masters, I’d run in the opposite direction of teaching texts, but I love being a lifelong learner and finding ways to continue improving my teaching. It’s also liberating to read freely with no deadlines or papers!! J
I hope you’ll continue to join us by reading along and sharing your thoughts in the comment section below. We'll be reading a chapter a week (very doable for summer learning!) if you’d like to follow along with us!

Chapter One - The Brain and Mathematics Learning

Chapter one focused on the ways in which our brain can GROW, and how we can use this knowledge to re-frame our teaching, especially when teaching mathematics. There’s a common misconception that some students will just never be able to "get" higher level math concepts. I myself struggled to believe I was good at math, and never went past Algebra 2 in high school.

Dr. Boaler shares some great insights on how incorporating the idea of growth mindsets to how we (and our students) approach math can make a HUGE difference in achievement. Recent research shows that our brains can actually change and grow, even over short periods of time!

So how do we, as teachers, structure our math sessions to help our students’ brains GROW and their math confidence to follow?  Dr. Boaler points out that “if brains can change in 3 weeks, imagine what can happen in a year of math class if students are given the right math materials and they receive positive messages about their potential and ability.”

What was my big takeaway from Chapter One?

GROWTH PRAISE! I’m sure by now many of you have heard of Growth Mindset or seen some of the awesome resources on Pinterest and TPT related to teaching students the impact of mindset. Here is Carol Dweck’s TED Talk in case you haven’t seen it…it’s inspiring!

A big idea with mindset is how we need to phrase our praise. “Fixed praise” is when we tell students they are “so smart.” This poses a challenge, because they felt good for being smart on a particular assignment or activity, but if they struggle on the next one they may rethink their “smarts.” Even worse, students may not try more challenging activities for fear of failing and no longer being seen as “smart.” This is why the idea of “growth praise” such as “That is an amazing piece of work” or “You have really thought deeply about this!” struck a chord with me. I will definitely be watching how I phrase my praise!

3 tips to implement:


Growth Praise! I can’t stress it enough.


No negative math comments, even if they are meant in kindness (“It’s okay, I know this is hard” or “I was bad at math in school too”) I am for sure guilty of this!


Keep encouraging a growth mindset in math, and keep working hard to model my own mathematical growth mindset!

I hope you enjoyed reading and want to keep joining us to learn more tips for encouraging a shift in mathematical mindsets! Don’t forget to comment below to share your thoughts if you’re following along, and check out these other wonderful insights about Mathematical Mindsets. See you next Thursday!

1 comment:

  1. That Carol Dweck video had me smiling & nodding the whole time. I love all the emphasis on growth mindsets & I'm so excited to learn more specifically to apply to the teaching of math!! Glad you're linking up on our book study!