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GearsI recently read a blog post on developing innovation by George Couros, a principal with the Parkland School Division in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada. I’m a regular reader of Mr. Couros’ blog, “The Principal of Change,” but this one struck a particular chord with me.

In his blog post, Couros refers to Carol Dweck’s work on “fixed” versus “growth” mindsets. In an interview with the education blog’s founder, Dr. Dweck differentiates between the two mindsets, explaining:

“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”

Building on Dr. Dweck’s work, and encouraged by the knowledge that mindsets are impermanent—one can move from one to the other—Mr. Couros proposes that it is also possible to move past the growth mindset to what he calls the “innovator’s mindset.” In his blog post he sets forth eight important characteristics educators should focus on to develop an innovator’s mindset to model in their classrooms for students.

I should also point out that Dr. Dweck’s research and her seminal book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2006), are heavily referenced in our 2012 second edition of Classroom Instruction that Works.


2014-PitlerHoward_7046_webA former elementary and middle school principal, Dr. Howard Pitler is McREL’s chief program officer. He is co-author of the second editions of Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works (2nd ed.) and Classroom Instruction That Works (2nd ed.), and was the lead developer of McREL’s Power Walkthrough® classroom observation software. He can be followed on Twitter at @hpitler.

McREL is a non-profit, non-partisan education research and development organization that since 1966 has turned knowledge about what works in education into practical, effective guidance and training for teachers and education leaders across the U.S. and around the world.


  • I am currently at a workshop that is focusing on helping move students from the fixed mindset to the growth mindset. I am now sharing about the innovated mindset with my group.

  • Annette Pacilio says:

    I have just completed a book club at my school where we read Dr. Dweck’s book, Mindset, so this blog post was of great interest to me. I too will be sharing this information with my group so that we can take this one step further than the growth mindset. I found it so interesting that one of the characteristics was Reflective, as I am in the middle of a Master’s course where we have been discussing the importance of reflection for educators. It is true that reflection is absent in many aspects of education because we are too busy trying to keep up with our pacing guides and curriculum demands. Yet, it is too important to overlook and time should be given to reflection if we, as educators, truly want to learn.

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