Growth Mindset in PE

This post is by KMA

‘I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life…that’s why I succeed’ Michael Jordan

Growth mindset- nothing new?

Sitting in the growth mindset training at the beginning of term, I realised that this ‘new’ initiative had been taking place in PE for many years; we just call it “coaching”.

In each lesson, we give pupils the opportunity to show resilience, to learn something completely new and even to fail. Our pupils receive instant feedback that they can act upon straight away. We can stand and watch them repeat the skill, giving them the help they need to improve. There is no need for marking books and finding time for pupils to correct their mistakes, we do all this instantly when we coach (see also here).

We can watch for progression, observe our pupils as they show the need to achieve and a hunger to learn. We can set differentiated outcomes, so that all pupils can demonstrate a growth mindset in every lesson.

They work through the stages of learning a new skill: from the cognitive to the autonomous. Our ultimate goal is the look of pure joy on their faces when they have that ‘got it’ moment, quickly followed by a smile, a ‘YES’, a fist punch and sometimes a little dance!

Working with fixed mindsets

Of course this isn’t the case for every pupil. There’s a small minority (mainly girls…) with what might be called a “fixed mindset”. They are the ones with the regular notes that excuse them from PE for a sore leg muscle or a headache they had yesterday. And these are the pupils we have to work hardest with.

We have found activities that suit them: insanity classes, boxercise, dance and even ice-skating. In order to change their mindset we have had to work with them to find out what interests them, once we’ve got that seed, we have found ways to make exercise enjoyable for them.

With all pupils, it’s about a growth mindset that understands the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle for lifelong involvement and the positive effects it can have both physically and, more importantly, mentally. Especially within an academic world.


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