Maths and mindsets

This week we have been introduced to the Online Literacy Assessment (OLA) and Online Maths Assessment. These are diagnostic tools which we are able to access and use in order to identify any gaps or weaknesses in our understanding. This allows us to seek help if needed or put in some extra work to ensure that we are ‘up to scratch’ and more importantly; able to teach these skills to others!

I’ll be the first to admit that maths is not my strong point. I attended college last year with the primary goal of achieving a high grade in my maths as I knew that in order to become a teacher, it is important that I have the ability to approach a range of mathematical problems with confidence. Over the year I was able to grasp far more than I’d hoped, and I came away with an ‘A’ which I was incredibly proud of. That being said, the mere mention of the OMA brought back my familiar anxiety and feelings of self doubt.

The way I was thinking reminded me of an article which I read a few days ago about Fixed and Growth mindsets. The article in TES referred to these within teachers as it warned them to beware of their mindsets about their own abilities as well as their reactions towards challenges.

The mindsets are the brain child of psychologist Carol Dweck. Put (very) simply; a person with a fixed mindset gives up easily, believes that talent is something that you are born with and that intelligence is fixed (i.e. some people just aren’t clever and so there’s no point trying). Alternatively, someone with a growth mindset believes that natural talent is just the starting point and that abilities and achievements come from dedication and hard work. These people develop resilience and are able to approach difficulties positively.

When I am putting myself down about my math abilities, I am having a fixed mindset. I need to put aside the idea that I’m no good at maths and remember that through hard work and plenty of practice I have been able to cope with some fairly complex ideas in the past. I feel that using the OMA (as well as the OLA) will be very helpful to me as I build my own confidence.

I also believe that being aware of my personal mindset will be a valuable tool as I progress through my studies and into my placements. In order for me to be a successful teacher; I must be able to instil positive attitudes towards learning within my pupils. This is impossible if I don’t ‘practice what I preach’ and therefore I must strive to embrace challenge while accepting support and guidance.


2 thoughts on “Maths and mindsets”

  1. It sounds like you’re going to be a nettle-grasper, Michelle and that’s the kind of positive mindset you need to have. Feel the fear and do it anyway!

  2. Hi Michelle,
    Around this time last year I attended a talk from Carol Dweck about mindsets and it surprised me! I was part of a really small group in my last year of school that had try to come up with ways that we could introduce teaching in a way that encourages growth mindsets following the talk. To be honest, I totally forgot about that talk until I read your blog. I hadn’t gone into the talk with high hopes (wasn’t entirely sure what it was meant to be about nor did I have an interest in whatever it could have been) but coming out of the talk really opened me up to and intrigued me into this mindset thing. On the journey home I discussed with the teacher and fellow pupil I went with how I think it would benefit me greatly as a Primary teacher and I’m really glad to see someone thinking the same thing!

    I’ve now decided to tackle this OMA with a growth mindset and not to be too anxious about it ( I run away at the thought of having to do any mathematics.) This blog post has reminded me of all the stuff about mindsets that I gained from listening to Carol Dweck speak about it herself .
    Adele x

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