Watch Growth Minded Middle School-ers in Action!

teenage students in a classroomFrom Mindset Works, the story of middle school Music Director Julie Ahlorn who puts the concept of a growth mindset into actions.  The story says:

“At the beginning of the year I tell students I am going to give them a gift. I give them a written theory assessment and sight-reading playing test. I give them this test at the beginning of the year knowing that most likely they will struggle and fail because this test is everything they should know in orchestra by the end of their 8th grade year. I tell them I don’t grade them on this test because it is for them to learn from. I want them to see where they are now and where they can be in 9 months or 18 months. I give them their same test back at the end of the year and have them fill in the parts of the test they didn’t answer and correct any questions they got wrong with a different colored pen. I also have them sight-read a piece they will learn at the end of the year at the back of the book. I video each individual student playing this piece. Many can hardly play it. When I have them play it at the end of the year it is easy for them and they play it with ease. Again, I don’t do this to make them feel like failures but to prove a point at the end of the year. I want them to see how much they have learned and that hard work and practice pay off! I ask them what is going to happen between now (the beginning of the year) and when they do this test at the end of the year. I point out “A lot of hard work and practice!”…”

Read the full story at Watch Growth Minded Middle School-ers in Action!


  • Nathan S. Gibson

    Nathan S. Gibson is an independent worker compliance business partner who provides expertise and creative solutions to enhance workforce flexibility and maintain compliance. He helps mitigate the risks associated with the misclassification of self-employed consultants, freelancers and independent contractors.

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6 thoughts on “Watch Growth Minded Middle School-ers in Action!

  1. Great article. I so agree with the idea of starting with the end in mind. It is so important for students to learn how to set goals. I recently read a growth mindset article on Smart Goal Setting for Teens that I’d recommend for your readers.

  2. I think it’s not so much the belief that this philosophy is right and best for students. It’s having the stamina to do it every day, all day and do it well.

    That’s where I strain for success. I know what to do, but sometimes I’m overwhelmed by all the administrative demands, the demands of providing multiple afterschool experiences and before school tutoring. I just run out of steam.

    For me…I believe in this mindset and classroom philosophy .100%. I just need more time and energy to be a 24/7 walk the walk kind of teacher.

    1. Anthony
      You took the words right out of my mouth, as I sit here taking a break in my classroom at 8:45 PM on a Friday night! (I know–get a life). Why so late? Paperwork and meeting the requirements of the education bureaucracy, along with parent conference week, etc., etc..

      I guess you and I, and all the other caring, hard-working teachers, need to just do the best we can, and recognize we can only do so much.

      Take care of yourself!

  3. Establishing high expectations is a must for all educators. I agree that students should be encouraged to challenge themselves and go beyond their comfort zone to take more risks. Students will view the meaning of learning differently and open their minds more widely.
    I recommend students to read the article, “You Can Grow Your Intelligence” written by Blackwell (2002) and discuss about it. I will use this article for the next school year to promote a growth mindset approach. Students will surely be beneficial from it because they will see themselves having the opportunities to be smart. Intelligence is indeed based on students’ willingness and determination to expand their knowledge.
    Should elementary school teachers team teach in order to be able to focus on only certain subject areas instead of multiple subjects to plan instruction more productively?

  4. Very intriguing! This was neat to see how they functioned based on how they have been taught and “trained”, if you will.

  5. Nice example of growth mindset. Julie is a great teacher in my opinion. Students do a lot of hard work and practice using this approach. Thanks Nathan for sharing such inspiring story with us.

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