CSLE+COVA and Growth Mindset

Of course it isn’t all about just ‘working harder’. My first rebuttal of the “False Growth Mindset” and most of Kohn’s article would be that if the educator creates a significant learning environment (CSLE) where a growth mindset is modeled, the students will be much more likely to change their own. 

Creating an environment where students have authentic choices, can take ownership of their work, and are encouraged to find and use their voice (COVA) is an environment where the growth mindset can flourish. 

Each student is invested in their own learning, their own project, and all conversation surrounding that work will be easier to encourage and learn from. Because the very next student is also invested in their learning and their own project. 

An example of that is 5305/5303 where we have built our ePortfolios, we have been encouraged to make our own choices in how we build them. In so making those choices and investing in our site we have taken ownership of it. While we blog and produce work and add pages, we are ‘completing assignments’, but we are also finding our voice in this digital universe. 

Is this authentic? That is more abstract, and by definition will look different for each of us, because of our original choice. So as in most successful processes, the success is in the process, not the outcome. Not the grade. 

The process of CSLE+COVA = Growth Mindset

BRAIN Based Universal Design for Learning

Reading through research on Universal Design for Learning is fascinating – each part is important and evident in a significant learning environment.

But the WHY is the crux for me. My first blog post is a response to Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, with WHY in the middle. He hammers home his thesis by suggesting that the Circle is a visual for the brain, and effective because it’s what the brain looks like.  

And thinking about what happens in the brain when we have a growth mindset, I keep visuallizing connections happening when we are confronted with challenges, and the connections that WE are all making as we confer and discuss what we are learning with each other.

I was sort of figuring all of this out, feeling like an imposter when I wrote about it on March 2. It’s AMAZING how much we’ve learned since then.

If we keep our WHY at the forefront, we feed our growth mindset!

And what does EDL and personalized learning mean for the learner? EVERYTHING! Personalized learning is COVA – is provides the opportunity for choice, ownership, voice, and authenticity. It’s all connected. 

Stereotypes and Gender in Fixed Mindsets

Growing up in the 80s, “Growth Mindset” didn’t exist. But we were told over and over to have a positive attitude. How many times have you been told to adjust your attitude? I remember clearly the day I decided to try. I remember making the choice to look for the positives. I remember the realization that choosing to look at the positive was in itself an arrival, because I was looking at the positive.

That positivity has worked well for me in life, and when I started reading about growth mindset and grit, it was my frame of reference. At the risk of having a false growth mindset, I would still say that in many areas of my life, I am growth minded. It has served me well so far in pursuing my masters degree, as detailed in a previous blog post “On the Imposter Syndrome”. 

BUT, in this reading of Dweck’s book, something else stood out to me. On page 47, the question is posed “Can I be half-and-half? I recognize both mindsets in myself.” And on page 74-79, she details the effects of negative stereotypes and other’s opinions. 

If girls grow up experiencing praise their entire life, they are much more affected by criticism of any kind later in life. Any negative feedback is disastrous. “Many females have a problem not only with stereotypes, but with other people’s opinions of them in general. They trust them too much.” p.78 This resonates with me more than I care to admit. 

So maybe some of us have a relational or emotional fixed mindset? Realizing this…how can it inform our learning environments? Do we give feedback to every student equally regardless of race or gender? Do we tolerate different language between male students and female students? 

In the area of CRITICISM, I aim to teach my students how to LEARN from both positive and negative feedback as a habit. 

My mindset on growth mindset is growing. 


Dweck, C.S. (2016). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Ballantine Books. 

Gross-Loh, C. (2016). How praise became a consolation prize. The Atlantic Magazine.

Spring Break Redux

Saying goodbye to my students yesterday was tough. The last day of the week before a holiday is always filled with a bit of frivolity, a bit of chaos. I intended on being present for all of it. We’ve been filming book trailers to close out our fantasy book club unit of study, so we spent the day watching each other’s work. It was the exact festive environment I wanted.

I wondered if any of them were thinking back to the end of their school week one year ago, when they said goodbye to their 4th grade teacher. I wonder what they were doing in their respective classrooms that last silly day of the week. None of us knew we wouldn’t come back. Even though we all finished the year on Zoom, it still felt like a death in some ways.

I see this tree every morning walking up to my classroom. I have enjoyed watching it start to bloom this week, especially after our record-breaking winter! Its blooms might peak next week while we are on our spring break.

Life is seasonal. Teaching is seasonal-we have new 5th graders! In some ways we’ve been collectively holding our breath all year, but it feels like after this week we can finally exhale. There was no major spike in illnesses at my school, we never had to shut down again.

We will set our clocks forward this weekend, we will enjoy one more hour of sunshine, and when we come back from spring break we will see life in full bloom everywhere.