Making the Intangible Tangible

If you follow professional sports, you may have heard commentators say something like, “That player has many intangibles that make him/her great at the game.” What it means is the player has something a little extra special in his/her performance, ability, or understanding of the game that is difficult to qualify and quantify. In the end, the intangibles help players make their teams and teammates better.

Ask anyone who has visited classrooms with any regularity, and they will tell you that intangibles exist in those environments, too. Fortunately researchers have undertaken the difficult task of identifying and articulating what those intangibles represent. In the article Identifying Teaching Behaviors That Foster Growth Mindset Classroom Cultures author Kathryn Kroeper details her research that notes four overarching intangible themes found in growth mindset classrooms:

  1. Success messages are overt. Teachers speak the language of growth and are encouraging of student efforts and achievements. 
  2. Opportunities abound. Classroom tasks are not “one and done” propositions. Students have opportunities to practice skills, receive feedback from peers and from teachers, and they are given multiple chances to succeed on academic tasks. 
  3. Struggles are supported. Scaffolds are built to support learning, and teachers provide a variety of ways for students to demonstrate mastery. 
  4. Learning is valued. Improvement and growth are celebrated within the classroom environment. 

As you prepare for next week, think about how you can create a culture of growth in your classroom. You and your students will be glad you did!

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