This article is about different factors that prevent teachers from having a growth oriented mindset. It is also about the school management who builds a non-productive pressure by being very judgmental.
Factor 1: The invisible Gun
Being a young student, we never realized why our teachers always and literally always kept the class door closed. Why they treated classroom as a personal space. A boundary that no one from outside is supposed to trespass. What apparently seems a matter of discipline and culture, is more of a psychological fear and insecurity. The teacher at the back of his mind is always thinking, what if the principal walks in and observes? What if he develops a wrong opinion about my way of teaching or my knowledge?
Another reason for this fear factor is the non-productive and non-supporting attitude of the management. They rarely reward the teachers to take risks and experiment with new learning methods. Some principals don’t even realize that they carry this invisible gun they themselves cannot see but the teacher can. The management should encourage teachers to adopt new learning methods and transform their schools into innovative learning platforms.
Factor 2: Growth Mindset
Most teachers assume that they are supposed to carry this “I know everything” attitude. Whereas the reality is that an 8th grade student with access to the internet and a tablet is more updated on a subject than his teacher. But it is too hard for the teacher to admit that. His ego does not allow him to open up his mind and accept every piece of information as an opportunity to learn. Some teachers also do not believe that every student can learn. Hence, they lead to negative competition by labelling students as functional and nonfunctional commodities.
How professional development can help address these issues?
Both teachers and the management need a paradigm shift. One of many ways to get started is to change the way we see, judge and perceive different actions and behaviours. In other words, we need to change our “Mindset”
Mindset is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and success—a simple idea that makes all the difference.– Carol Dweck
According to Carol Dweck’s research people with a fixed mindset usually see intelligence as a static and a non-volatile personality trait. Whereas people with a growth mindset look at their brain as a muscle that will grow stronger if they avail every opportunity to learn.
This is exactly the kind of behavioural shift that you will experience after attending frequent trainings as part of your professional development program. You would get used to the idea of learning from your peers and even from your students through interactive learning sessions where everyone is encouraged to participate and get involved. The school management will also get familiar with new techniques of routine evaluation, class observation and feedback sessions. Teachers will no longer get goose bumps if next time the principal walks in without any prior notice nor will the Head going to show a mindset to undermine the potential of teachers.
This positive environment can only be created if the Management strives on building research oriented learning centre than mere knowledge centres. They should induct rigorous and continuous training programs for not only professional growth of their teachers but for overall school development. Rewards should be given to those who use new experiential teaching methods to make learning an ongoing process.