Shirley Clarke says tell students the truth if their work needs work.


active learning through formative assessment

I’m re-reading Shirley Clarke’s book first published in 2008 on active learning and formative assessment.

One of the points she makes in the book is the link between higher self-esteem and a growth mindset.

  • We need to show enthusiasm for challenging tasks and ensure failure is followed with celebration of what’s been learned.
  • With a growth mindset you tell students the truth – if they are underachieving this is not shameful but a sign about the need to work harder
  • Praise effort and achievement rather than ability or personal attribute
  • Avoid external rewards as they lead students to avoid challenge, create excuses for failures, give up and become upset when faced with difficulty
  • The brain is a learning muscle that need some practice

I’m still reading on but felt the need to write.

I want to say that this makes sense to me. We often and unconsciously tie self-esteem to winning and to results. We do this as educators and as parents – I still ask how did you go when my daughter or son walk in from a game – but I try to avoid did you win or lose as the first question.

A parent emailed me recently worried about their child self-esteem after some recent teacher feedback. While the issue is always more complex than what’s first said and relationships are always in play I did caution about linking their child’s self-esteem to their work but rather see it as a work in progress needing further effort. I then linked them in to an article on this mindset stuff and praise. I haven’t heard back yet.