A very productive way of using student data to inform further instruction, is through professional dialogue with others. This can be done with peers or with a teaching and learning coach, who specializes in this area. This professional dialogue is crucial to ensure critical thinking, risk taking and innovation. First of all, the dialogue has to involve decisions about data gathering: what to look for, what type of diagnostic assessments to use, and what to observe in class. It is important that the teacher is open to different perspectives and discussion about the data gathering step, as the choice of focus will influence the data gathered. Then it is also important that the teacher be open to the results of data gathering, which may not always be what is expected or desired, but will nevertheless be conducive to effective adjustments in teaching and learning.
Student-based coaching is therefore a style of coaching that focuses on student data as the basis for a professional dialogue with the teacher, where the goal is to adjust teaching to the student needs and the curriculum. A growth mindset is then key in teacher-coach interaction, considering the importance of a professional dialogue around student data . The idea of a Fixed x Growth Mindset was developed by Dr. Carol S. Dweck. Match Education, which specializes in teacher professional development, has explored the idea in the teacher-coach relationship, developing what they called the “Four Horsemen of Fixed Mindset“. The Infographic below is based on Match Education’s idea of the “four horseman”, focusing on how to overcome instance of fixed mindset when dealing with evidence of student learning and the need to inform practice.
It is important to stress, when looking at the Infographic, that people do not present either a fixed or a growth mindset in all situations in life. One person who mostly has a growth mindset may present fixed mindset behavior in particular circumstances. I think we have all been in that situation sometime, when someone else presents a different perspective or approach, and we close down on our current beliefs and practice.
The idea is to use the Infographic as a way to recognize in ourselves, instances of fixed mindset approach, and try to open up and grow beyond our comfort zone. So whenever you are in a professional dialogue, keep in mind the “four horsemen of fixed mindset” that are indicated in the Infographic and try to analyze whether you fit in one of those. The ideas indicated in green are suggestions for how to break the fixed mindset loop and have a growth mindset approach to teaching with student data.