Research shows that academic mindsets and learning strategies are strong drivers of students’ perseverance at academic tasks and of good classroom behaviors (e.g., attendance, work completion). In turn, perseverance and academic behaviors lead to good grades and school success. But how can teachers help their students develop a positive mindset in the classroom when so many of the students who have come before them have been poster children for failure? How can students come to believe that a long history of academic struggle in their school does not predict their destiny?
These are the kinds of tough questions we have been exploring with the 8th/9th Teacher Network (8/9TN), set up three years ago by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. (As highlighted in “Rethinking How Students Succeed,” the network involves a volunteer group of teachers interested in bringing academic mindsets and learning strategies research to their students—the vast majority of whom are low-income African-American and Latino youth in low-performing schools.)