Growth Mindset—What is it and how is it beneficial?

Teacher giving feedback to students

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset—are these familiar terms? The concepts and their effects on learning have been an object of discussion for many inside and outside the education community. A growth mindset has been shown to increase learning and success for students, so it’s important to understand what it is, the benefits, and how individuals can develop it.

What is a growth mindset?

A growth mindset consists of believing that intelligence, skills, and abilities can be developed through work, practice, and consistent effort. People with a growth mindset welcome feedback and constructive criticism as a way to see where they can improve and grow. They value the learning process and welcome opportunities for increased development.

By contrast, individuals with a fixed mindset feel that everyone is born with certain traits and skills—people are either good or bad at things. Constructive criticism feels like a personal attack. Failures feel permanent because failing at something demonstrates a lack of ability. Living with a fixed mindset requires proving worth and value over and over again.

There are things that can be mistaken for a growth mindset. A growth mindset is not just applauding effort; progress needs to be made. It’s also not the same as being open-minded or flexible, and it’s not all-or-nothing where someone is either all growth mindset or all fixed mindset. Everyone experiences each at different times and in different areas of their lives.

What are the benefits of a growth mindset?

Developing a growth mindset opens opportunities for people to:

  • —Learn and achieve more
  • Rebound faster from setbacks, failures, and disappointments
  • —Avoid wasting energy worrying about approval from others
  • —Increase collaboration, innovation, and creative risk-taking
  • —Sustain personal motivation
  • —View difficult tasks as opportunities to expand abilities
  • —Perceive challenges as an exciting chance to grow

How to develop a growth mindset?

Since it is so beneficial to have a growth mindset, how is one developed? Here are some strategies we found:

  1. —Focus on the process that leads to learning, like hard work and trying different strategies
  2. —View challenges as opportunities instead of obstacles
  3. Prioritize learning over seeking approval
  4. —Reward and praise what people do and how hard they work, instead of individual traits
  5. —Practice receiving feedback as an opportunity to improve, not as a personal attack
  6. Reflect on learning every day
  7. —Always be working toward some kind of growth and learning goal
  8. —Give yourself time—learning and growth don’t happen overnight
  9. —Support others (and yourself) in developing any skill of interest
  10. —Celebrate the success of others and use it as motivation to work hard and succeed!

Developing a growth mindset is helpful for anyone, at any stage of life. Research shows that it helps people be more successful. What have you done to develop a growth mindset in yourself or others?

5 Tips for Maintaining Focus in a Busy World

Focus and Mindfulness through deep breathing

With so many differences between us, there is one commonality everyone shares—busy lives. There are numerous demands on our time and energy, countless activities and events we can be a part of. This can make it difficult to stay focused on the things we really want to accomplish. When our schedules become too full and leave us feeling like there’s too much on our plate, what can we do? We reviewed some ideas and compiled five tips that can help.

Establish Priorities and Values

An important first step in managing your focus is to determine what’s most important and what you value. Then align your values with your time. Determine your “why” and keep it in the forefront of your mind to stay on track.

Plan Ahead

Start every day making intentional choices and plan how to spend your time. One source recommended choosing the top three tasks to accomplish each day and remaining focused on those most important tasks. Once you’ve decided what you’d like to do and how you want your day to look, move forward with that vision in mind.

“If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself if it’s because you’re on the edge of doing something awesome or is life showing you that something needs to be cut out?”

Shawn Blanc
Limit Distractions

Take inventory on what takes up space in your life, whether physical or mental, and decide what can be cleared out. Organizing your physical space and clearing out clutter is a great place to start. To tackle the mental space, limit notifications on cell phones, computers, and other devices; set boundaries for social media participation; and avoid getting caught in the trap of constantly checking email. Set aside a time for these and other tasks and commit to it.

Say No

This one can be particularly difficult, especially for people in a helping profession. There will always be invitations extended for additional work responsibilities, service opportunities, and social engagements. When they arise, remember the priorities and values you’ve already identified, and take some time to consider before responding. If the new invitation doesn’t fit within that framework, politely decline.

“You can’t serve from an empty vessel.”

Eleanor Brownn
Mind Your Health

Maintaining your health is critical. We need to be able to functional physically, mentally, and emotionally. You can help yourself physically by taking time to exercise, being careful to eat foods that leave you feeling your best, and leaving time for enough sleep. Your mental health can be supported by practicing mindfulness and meditation or even something as simple as taking a mental break when things get particularly taxing. In all of these areas, it’s important to support emotional health by celebrating progress made every day—don’t beat yourself up when you’re not perfect!

As busy as our lives are, it’s possible to maintain our focus with a little planning and care. What have you found effective in staying focused in a busy world?

Integrating Coding and Robotics in Schools

little robot

Educators are always looking for the best way to educate students and help them succeed. They innovate and look to the innovations of others. They review different trends to understand the benefits. Some trends grow as they’re adopted into teaching regimens while others are left behind. One of the teaching trends that’s persisting and continuing to grow is coding and robotics.

What gives coding and robotics staying power?

With so many education trends coming and going, what keeps robotics and coding moving forward, growing from a trend to a regular teaching strategy? As technology advances, so do the number of technology careers available. When students get to experience STEM subjects and their practical application, those students are better prepared to fill technology jobs. In addition to subject-specific skills students learn, they also gain experience in thinking critically and solving problems.

What are the benefits of coding and robotics?

Coding and robotics programs offer many benefits for students, including increasing engagement, developing high-level thinking, and fostering empathy and creativity.

As students experience learning through coding and robotics, engagement rates may rise. Robots are interesting. Learning about them and making them work can be a lot of fun. Some students even find a new passion and discover a new learning pathway for their themselves.

Working with coding leads to high-level thinking. Students get to see how their decisions affect the design and function of the program or robot. The coding process helps them think a few steps ahead, a skill that can be used often in life.

Working with robots and coding is a great time for students to work in a group and develop teamwork skills. As they plan and troubleshoot, they practice collaboration and build communication. Working in a group also gives students an opportunity to emerge as leaders—both the type that will speak out and help direct the work to the quiet, behind-the-scenes leaders who keep the group on task and perform technical jobs.

Another benefit of coding and robotics work is the opportunity to develop creativity and empathy. As students work toward solving a problem, they have to come up with new ideas and think outside the box to find a solution. They also use their creativity to design and create their own product when they’re coding games or apps. Empathy is strengthened as students consider the end-user’s needs. Thinking about what would create the best experience for someone else moves the focus from the student to another person.

How do you effectively integrate robotics and coding?

Starting to integrate coding and robotics into a classroom can be intimidating, especially for educators who don’t have a lot of expertise on the subject. Fortunately, there are people and resources readily available to help.

A good place to start is with other people. You may find people in your school who have experience with coding, and online groups can also guide you through the process. There may even be experts in your community who would be happy to share their knowledge.

In addition to seeking help from other people, there are websites and apps dedicated to helping students learn to code. Code.org is a well-known one to start with, but there are many others, as well. Kits and games can be purchased, too.

One of the best overall tips we saw is to keep it fun. Encourage exploration, play, and discovery.

With all of the interest in and benefits of coding and robotics programs, it appears this trend is going to stick around for a while. Have you tried it in your school or classroom?

The Many Ways Teachers Fund Classrooms

classroom funding and grants can provide classroom supplies

There are so many things competing for today’s education budgets that it can seem impossible to stretch funds far enough. School supplies are in short supply, technology becomes outdated, and new ideas like flexible seating and makerspaces could create positive changes in classrooms. Small budgets can make it seem impossible to purchase everything needed, so what are educators to do?

Fortunately, options are available beyond going without or paying for things out of pocket. Philanthropic organizations set money aside to help organizations like schools in the form of grants. Other groups provide a platform to raise funds to satisfy unmet budget requirements. Sometimes you can even find the resources you want and need for free!

Grants

Many organizations offer grants to individuals and organizations that need additional funds. This money doesn’t have to be repaid, but the grantor may ask for a report of how the grant was used and how it benefitted the intended audience. A simple web search can start the process of searching for a grant to meet a particular need, and some websites compile lists of grants, like The NEA Foundation, GetEdFunding.com, and Teach.com. Where a need exists, there is probably a grant designated to fill it .

Crowdfunding

Some teachers turn to websites like DonorsChoose.org or AdoptAClassroom.org to reach private parties who want to help. Educators spell out their request and how it will benefit students. Private parties find an open giving opportunity and donate the amount they feel comfortable with. This gives anyone the opportunity to help any project, classroom, or school they choose.

Donations

With the prevalence of online retailers, private citizens can now purchase what educators need through online stores. Teachers make a shopping list or wish list and share it with the public, allowing charitable givers to help purchase what is needed. These lists can be shared on social media so virtually anyone can support any teacher, classroom, or school.

Sometimes teachers don’t have to look any further than the school’s PTA. Since PTA budgets are separate from the school or district, PTA leaders can make decisions regarding where they spend funds. Talking to the PTA can open doors for additional donations.

Whether a teacher, principal, or community member, it’s easy to see the evidence of funding struggles in education. Fortunately, there are options to help fill unmet needs. Between grants, crowdfunding, and donations, options exist to fill the gap between what is provided and what is needed to provide a good education.

Integrating Audio Systems in Modern Classrooms

Classroom audio systems offer many benefits to schools. They have been shown to positively affect student achievement and engagement, as well as reduce fatigue and vocal strain for teachers. Some might argue that audio systems don’t offer the same benefits in today’s classrooms where traditional seating is shifting to flexible seating and teachers don’t just lecture at the front of the room. How does classroom audio fit into new learning environments? How can teachers use today’s technology in conjunction with classroom audio to enhance the learning experience?

Changes in Modern Classrooms

Teachers used to spend much of their day sharing information with their class at the front of the room, but teaching methods are changing. Teachers act as facilitators of learning, talking to the class as a whole, visiting with small groups, or working with individual students. More class time is dedicated to students working on their own or in small groups, and students spend more time in front of the class presenting what they’ve learned during research and projects. With the classroom environment changed so much, how do microphones fit into the mix?

Some of these changes make it even more important for teachers to have a microphone and audio system. As teachers move around the classroom and as student seating varies, teachers can’t face all the students all the time. With a classroom audio system, students can hear the teacher, even if facing away from them. When teachers need to talk to the class during or after small group work, having their voice distributed throughout the classroom makes it easier for everyone to hear a call to attention. And when students are sharing their work with the class, they can use the teacher microphone or a separate handheld microphone to make sure everyone can hear them.

Innovative Technology

The advancement of technology in today’s classrooms provides additional options when using classroom audio systems. With a computer and classroom microphone, teachers can use lecture capture—software that allows the teacher to capture a desktop recording along with their voice from the microphone. Then, they can share the lesson with students who are sick, away for extra-curricular activities, or hospital homebound, helping students keep up with classroom work.

Schools can integrate interactive displays with their classroom audio systems. These displays offer striking visuals, but their sound is not always clear, nor does it always carry well. With audio system integration, sound from presentations and videos can be distributed throughout the classroom, making multimedia more enjoyable for everyone.

Today’s classroom setups and teaching methods are always evolving, but classroom audio systems still offer many benefits for teachers and students. As teachers use them to enhance their own voice or the voices of their students, lessons can be more engaging and understandable for everyone in the room. As technology is integrated, teachers can take advantage of options like lecture capture software to help absent students keep up. With the increase of multimedia use in classrooms, audio systems can also optimize that audio to make it more engaging for everyone. 

Project-Based Learning—How it benefits students

We’ve been reading a lot about project-based learning (PBL) and felt it would be beneficial to understand it better, so we researched it to increase our understanding. In our last blog post, we looked at some of the key elements of project-based learning. In this post, we share some of the benefits educators have seen as they implement PBL.

Benefits of Implementing PBL

Educators want what’s best for their students and work hard to ensure what they do in the classroom is worth everyone’s time and effort. Like any change in teaching and learning methods, integrating PBL takes time, effort, and planning—the benefits have to be worth it! So what are the benefits of implementing PBL?

Students develop “soft skills”

Soft skills are increasingly identified as crucial to success. PBL helps students learn to effectively collaborate and communicate. Students receive increased opportunities to consider multiple perspectives and develop empathy for others.

Critical thinking, problem solving

The complex problems that students solve in PBL require them to engage in “inquiry, research, and ideation.” They have to look at the problem from different angles and keep moving forward to find a solution. These skills can transfer to other problems and are useful throughout students’ lives.

Excitement about learning

PBL can ignite students’ excitement about learning. When they work to solve a problem they’re passionate about and can see real-world application, it can increase excitement about new projects and learning opportunities.

Developing a growth mindset

PBL provides a great opportunity for developing a growth mindset. Projects require continued testing and revision, helping students see that most work isn’t generally perfect in the beginning stages. PBL gives students permission to fail and move forward, reworking their plan where needed.

Project-based learning may not be a fit for every situation, but it offers many benefits that teachers are seeking for their students. Many teachers and students are already seeing value from implementing it into their classrooms. Have you tried PBL? What has your experience been?

Project-Based Learning—Key Elements of PBL

Student collaboration in project-based learning PBL

Anyone who spends much time in the education world will hear about project-based learning or PBL. This growing trend is becoming incorporated into more classrooms every day. So what’s the big deal with PBL? What does it entail, and how can it improve student learning?

We found a lot of information about project-based learning. The most succinct definition came from an article by Heather Wolpert-Gawron called What the Heck is Project-Based Learning? Her “elevator speech” answer is, “PBL is the act of learning through identifying a real-world problem and developing its solution. Kids show what they learn as they journey through the unit, not just at the end.”

What are some keys of PBL?

Solving real-world problems

In PBL, students solve authentic problems they really care about. Learning is meaningful to the student and fills an educational purpose. It’s not just something students will need to know “later in life.”

Learning happens through the project

These projects don’t come at the end of the unit, after the learning has taken place. They’re not a culminating project or an enrichment activity—the learning comes as students work on the problem to find a solution.

Student voice and choice

PBL projects are student-designed and student-led. Students choose problems to solve and questions to answer. They take responsibility to refine and revise their projects throughout the process.

Reflection, critique, feedback

In traditional learning, feedback and assessment come at the end and generally just from the teacher. In PBL, students continually reflect on and critique their projects. They receive feedback and assessment from peers and teachers during the entire project.

Public presentation

Project-based learning needs to be presented publicly. Rather than just turning in an assignment to the teacher or presenting it to the class, students present to an authentic audience. Knowing their project will be shared with more than just their teacher motivates students to do their best work.

Teacher-facilitated, student-driven

In PBL, teachers become the facilitators. Students take the driver’s seat and are responsible for moving their projects forward to completion. Teachers provide structure and help along the way, but students own their learning.

If you think project-based learning might be the change you’re looking for in your classroom, check out the links in this article for more information. And come back in a couple weeks when we share how PBL benefits students!

EPIC Spotlight: Morgan County High School

Our purpose at Audio Enhancement is to make classrooms more effective and ease the burden resting on educators’ shoulders. EPIC (Education Paging & Intercom Communications) System™ was developed in response to concerns and frustrations that K-12 educators had when working with their intercom, paging, and bells systems. When developing EPIC System, our goal was to create an intuitive and easy-to-use product that administrators could customize to fit their needs. This goal was realized in the experience Morgan County High School had in implementing and using EPIC System.

Morgan County and Audio Enhancement

Morgan County High School serves 9–12th grade students in Morgan County Charter School System in Madison, Georgia. It is a wall-to-wall college and career academy, focusing on helping students discover a love of learning and preparing for future careers. In October 2018, they moved into a new building and began using Audio Enhancement’s EPC System™, Classroom Audio solutions, SAFE System™, and VIEWpath®. We had the opportunity to discuss their implementation of EPIC System with Jennifer Butler, Morgan County’s CTAE Director.

Ms. Butler has worked in education since 1996 and has been with Morgan County since 2006. In her time as an educator, she has observed that schools lack flexibility in their communication systems. Typical systems don’t allow for much customization and can be difficult to use. Zones and bell tones are generally predetermined and can’t be changed by educators at the school. A year before Morgan County moved into a new building, they heard about EPIC System. When their team saw the system offered fully customizable zones, room-to-room intercom, and a touchscreen interface, they hoped it would offer them increased flexibility. Did it work out like they wanted? According to Ms. Butler, “Our hopes were realized tenfold.”

An Easy-to-Use System

Morgan County HS moved into their new school over Fall Break, so their time to learn the system before using it on a day-to-day basis was limited. Fortunately, with very little training, teachers and staff were ready to use EPIC System with confidence. Ms. Butler said, “It is almost plug and play, in my opinion. If you have any technical background, it is a very simple process to learn. If you are intimidated by technology, a short training session is sufficient.” The simplicity of EPIC System allowed them to welcome students back after Fall Break and move forward assured that they could efficiently manage the system.

Customization

One of the features of EPIC System most used and appreciated by Morgan County is the ability to fully customize zones for paging and bells. Administrators can create zones in any configuration needed, from an entire floor to a single classroom. “This has been a game changer,” said Ms. Butler. “We have set up zones for PSAT testing, EOC testing, AP testing, ASVAB testing.” This allows them to keep a particular hallway silent from bells while the rest of the school continues with its regular schedule. They also use it to adjust bells in the auditorium to avoid disrupting a play or events being held.

Another feature of EPIC System utilized by Morgan County is customizable bell tones. They appreciate the option to set specific songs for specific events so students and teachers know what to expect. They also change bells for holidays and special events to create a fun atmosphere for everyone at the school.

Final Thoughts

At the end of our interview, when asked if there was anything else she’d like to share about her experience with EPIC System, Ms. Butler said, “I believe it has been one of our best purchases for our system. The areas that have been affected by this system—bells, paging, intercom and safety—are areas that are taken for granted by most people, but they are very important to a school. This has provided us a sense of protection that is so important and the ability to limit unnecessary classroom disruptions has helped morale.”

“I believe it has been one of our best purchases for our system.”

Jennifer Butler

From the first development of EPIC System, our goal was to make life easier and schoolwide communication more efficient for K-12 educators. We are so happy to hear that EPIC System is doing exactly what it was designed to do for educators at Morgan County High School!

6 Key Education Leadership Traits

education leader with positive leadership qualities

Who sets the tone in an education environment? Who or what determines the climate of a school? A recent post on Twitter from #teachergoals caught our attention: “If admin isn’t excited, teachers aren’t excited. If teachers aren’t excited, kids aren’t excited. #leadershipmatters” A 2013 Gallup report entitled School Leadership Linked to Engagement and Student Achievement reported, “Leadership is second only to classroom instruction among school-related factors that contribute to what students learn at school.” Education leadership plays a critical role in a school’s environment.

What qualities do leaders in education need to set a positive tone and create the best experience for students and teachers? We did some searching and found six key traits to focus on for positive, effective leaders:

  1. 1. Communicate
  2. 2. Be Positive
  3. 3. Encourage Feedback and Collaboration
  4. 4. Trust, Empower, and Believe in Others
  5. 5. Solve Problems and Make Decisions
  6. 6. Create and Innovate
Communicate

Leaders need to be excellent communicators. They need to effectively communicate one-on-one, with individual departments, and with their entire staff. They understand the value of listening to and really hearing those they serve. These leaders have an open-door policy and welcome the input of others. Leaders also need to communicate their vision so everyone understands its value and can be motivated to work toward the same goals.

Be Positive

A leader’s attitude affects everyone in their organization. If teachers and staff feel like their administrator loves coming to work, they will likely to feel the same. Positive leaders take time to build authentic relationships and show others they care. They set a positive tone by being kind and patient, building up those they work with and helping them see the growth they can achieve. Even when things aren’t going as planned, a positive leader doesn’t vent by talking negatively about others.

Encourage feedback and Collaboration

Feedback is a two-way street, and effective leaders understand that. They take time to identify the strengths of those they work with and areas where they can grow. They also welcome feedback and appreciate hearing which things they’re doing well and where change might be needed. Great leaders work with their team, defining goals and plans to strengthen the students and teachers they work with. They understand the value in coaching and mentorship, both for themselves and for the teachers in their school.

Trust, Empower, and Believe in Others

People perform better when a leader trusts them to do their job and believes they can succeed. Education leaders understand this and demonstrate trust at their schools. They give constructive feedback without micro-managing. A great leader understands the individual strengths and weaknesses of those they work with. Together they can build on strengths and provide personal development to strengthen weaknesses.

Solve Problems and Make Decisions

School administrators are faced every day with decisions and problems that they can’t anticipate or plan for. They have to be ready to think outside the box and act quickly to solve unique problems. Leaders can face tough decisions—they have to be strong enough to make hard decisions and move forward with confidence.

Create and Innovate

Strong leaders know that decisions don’t always have a clear answer and often the solutions they seek are non-traditional. Knowing when to stick with “the way it’s always been done” and changing things to fit new circumstances is critical. Educational leaders are often looking for new and better ways to do things. They embrace different cultural perspectives and are open to the ideas of others. Not only are they creative and innovative, but they empower students and teachers to do the same.

Strong and effective education leaders are critical to the success of today’s schools. Their ability to uplift and inspire those they work with, along with their ability to be creative and effective in their decision making and collaboration, will affect the atmosphere of their school and the attitude of all they work with. 

Check out these other sources with great information:

How does VIEWpath® enhance education?

Man reviewing VIEWpath video

Our mission at Audio Enhancement is to empower educators to create more effective classrooms. When teachers and administrators tell us what tools they need to do that, we get to work developing it. One example is VIEWpath® (Video Interactive Education Window)—an installed classroom camera that integrates with computer software. Educators use this platform to enhance professional growth and increase learning opportunities for students. Through VIEWpath’s recent redesign, educators have an easy-to-use, intuitive solution for professional development (PD) and content creation.

Five key benefits of VIEWpath for PD

VIEWpath is a complete solution for professional development. From recording lessons to sharing them with a student, PLC, or coach; from editing video to using it in Google Classroom™, VIEWpath helps teachers enhance instruction through personal video.

Teacher Reflection

Video playback lessons to reflect on teaching methods, classroom experience, and student engagement. This increases self-awareness, paving the way for efficient professional growth.

Collaboration

Share video with your team or PLC for collaborative sessions. Evidence-based feedback, along with time-synced text and audio notes, increases effectiveness.

Best Practices

Create a video exemplars library to demonstrate best practices in action. Share with teachers, instructional coaches, and others.

Coaching

Capture authentic teaching moments and classroom behavior when they won’t be affected by the presence of a visitor. Facilitate remote coaching opportunities.

Inter-rater Reliability

Clarify standards to ensure all coaching and evaluations are assessed equally. Review coaching on video submissions to ensure accurate, quality feedback.

VIEWpath expands learning with content creation

VIEWpath makes it simple to create digital content for use inside and outside the classroom. Now, learning can happen anytime, anywhere, and by anyone.

  • Share lessons with students who are absent due to extra-curricular activities, suspensions, or being hospital homebound.
  • Prepare lessons to pre-teach concepts for personalized learning, flipped classrooms, and blended learning.
  • Add recordings to your Learning Management System.
  • Easily download recordings and other files to Google Drive™ for easy import into Google Classroom™.
  • Use Lecture Capture to combine camera recording and desktop side by side.

VIEWpath was built with educators and their heavy workload in mind. It’s easy to use, offers multiple recording options, is controlled by teachers, and is simple to share. VIEWpath includes a simple Chrome™ web-based interface with all controls on a single page. An intuitive editing tool enables simple modifying within the platform. Recordings can be scheduled in advanced or started by pressing the REC button on the teacher microphone. You can also now record within the mobile app. As always, teachers control the camera and manage who can view their recordings. Recordings are also easy to share with an individual or a predefined group.

VIEWpath makes it simpler than ever to record, reflect, and collaborate on your lessons. This complete solution for professional development provides tools for educators to enhance the classroom experience for themselves and their students.