Four Horsemen of the what?????

A fitting title for today’s post it being Halloween and all, but no this title has nothing to do with anything scary unless you find giving feedback to fellow teachers scary.

The focus of my mooc this week was all on coaching teachers to move from a fixed mindset where they are convinced that skills are innate and cannot improve to a growth mindset where attitude and abilities are not fixed and with effort and feedback skills can be improved.  The focus of coaching is on growth mindset but the question is how do we get fellow teachers to embrace that growth mindset and not be stuck in a fixed point of view.  The answer according to my learning this week focused around the need for teachers to be open, willing, and able to accept feedback and the need for coaches to be able to recognize those teachers who are not open, willing, and able to accept feedback.  This is where the Four Horses of…wait for it…Fixed Mindset come in.

The Four Horses of Fixed Mindset

According to what I have learned the Four Horses of Fixed Mindset are the barriers that teachers who struggle to separate self-identity from their performance which in turn causes them to react poorly to feedback and reduces their ability to grow, learn, and change. So, the first step to improving coaching situations is to be aware of fixed mindset behaviour and work through it with teachers.  Below is a quick overview of the Four Horsemen but a more detailed description as well as video examples can be found on the blog of Mike Goldstein, founder of Match the company giving my mooc through Coursera. There is also a great video provided through the mooc that gives a polished example of each for use with coaches and teachers, let me know if you are interested and I can send it to you to view.

1. “You’re right, I suck.”

Teachers responding this way are beating themselves up and taking feedback personally rather than on their teaching performance.

2. “You’re wrong, I rule.”

Teachers responding this way argue feedback being given is not accurate and become defensive.  These responses often give a different version of happenings that don;t threaten their self-image in any way.

3.  “Blame it on the rain”

Teachers responding in this way are blaming external factors for their performance.

4.  “Optimist without a cause”

Teachers responding this way are not listening and internalizing feedback at all.  Teachers let it bounce right off without another thought.

The idea behind coaches being able to recognize these behaviours is that through the simple act of sharing these named behaviours with teachers it may make it easier to help teachers recognize them within themselves through normalization and conversation.  Coaches can promote more productive behaviours to grow growth mindset for teachers struggling with fixed mindset.

I really related to this section as I know I have used the Four Horsemen before and seen in it in my peers, pre-interns, and interns.  I think as teachers we sometimes don’t want to admit we are struggling so we “blame it on the rain” or are “optimistic without a cause” or maybe just plain feel down on ourselves and are “you’re right, I suck”.  What should be acceptable is making mistakes and struggling, knowing it and learning and growing from it.  The most important thing is the learners and their education and that should be at the forefront of teaching.

What are your thoughts on these descriptions; have you seen them? have you been them? how do you overcome them?

Coaching Growth Mindset

What I found particularly useful was the included ideas for strategies to help ourselves grow our own mindset.  I sort of see these strategies working to improve positivity in a number of situations not just from a coach/teacher standpoint. Check out some of the list of strategies you can use to grow your own mindset.

  • Smile-smiling even a forced one improves your mental state
  • Body Language-sit-up, lean forward, make eye contact, stay active and engaged
  • Voice-when you sound positive you build positive energy
  • Take notes-notes help you to not block out important feedback you may be reluctant to get
  • Ask Questions-clarifying questions help you to ensure you are getting out of feedback the most you can

Mindset really is an important factor when thinking about making changes that stick in your teaching.  I think when coaching others being aware of a person’s mindset and allowing time and support to change and grow will improve the percentage of change made through effective feedback.

Again this week I referred to Silvia’s blog, I just love her sketches for organizing ideas.  I can’t help giving her a ping back from my blog now that I know what that is.  Maybe I will get brave and make my own for my next post, maybe.


2 thoughts on “Four Horsemen of the what?????

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