EBI: growth mindset. Not just for Christmas.

FullSizeRender (5)I came a bit unstuck this weekend. All my ideas about marking and feedback suddenly hit a brick wall as I realised that I was in danger of personally murdering the very yellow sticker that I feel rather responsible for. Year 10 Descriptive Writing caused me to stop and think: who am I filling this sticker out for? Once students have responded to my feedback, will I respond again? What if that needs another student response? What exactly IS the impact of triple-impact marking? And why is this post about Growth Mindset?

The Marking and Feedback Policy makes it clear that SBL is a school which expects students to act on the feedback of their teachers, assuming that the feedback is relevant, timely, formative, and encouraging. Both WWW and EBI are effective vehicles for this as long as the EBI is phrased as a question (or two questions) which leads to a task, which demonstrates improvement. We don’t necessarily need a sticker for this, but we do have 2 boxes of them left, and we are going to use them up. AFTER THAT, however, we will revisit how we formatively assess our students and the impact that this assessment has on their progress.

EBIs typically focus on what the student needs to do to improve. For some students in 8A in English for example, this could be:

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(For the same students in 8A when I was teaching them Geography, this could be:


(jus’ sayin’)

But some students don’t need an EBI which focusses them on content or knowledge. Sometimes, their EBI needs to be a question that might help them to overcome a fixed-mindset approach to their work. One 8A student tells me daily that he ‘can’t do it’. One of my lovely PP students in top set Y10 seems overcome with an inferiority complex and constantly compares herself to the top-performing student in the same group. For those students, the feedback is more likely to be helpful, motivating, and have more impact if it is phrased without activating inadequate feelings about either ability or accomplishment.

Carole Dweck’s Mindset is a ubiquitous edu-book in every establishment, educational or otherwise,  that claims to want to improve outcomes – student or otherwise. But the true power of her research lies not in what is claimed, but in how it is applied, by you, me, and the students themselves, in each of our classrooms. Below is a (rather American but we can cope) growth mindset feedback tool that might help with  phrasing EBIs in ways that encourage some of our students to shed their fixed ideas about their learning (and – if I’m honest – might help US to shed OUR fixed ideas about their abilities). In next term’s twilight sessions we will look at how we can provide effective formative feedback against the backdrop of fostering a growth-mindset: take the challenge, learn from failure, continue the effort.



I then tried it out with three of the formative assessments for Yr 10 Descriptive Writing.

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First thing I realised: having a TML on your sticker might not be all that helpful! The grade for the work, however, could be if it was linked to personal effort and progress. I also wondered whether phrasing EBIs in this way could develop student response in a more personalised and meaningful way – really getting them to think about how they could affect their own learning, not just leave it all to us!

Let me know what you think, or whether you already do this in your classrooms, and – especially – whether you have seen any improvements in students’ mindsets. And maybe share this with them:

success joke

There is a growth mindset framework available here, and an effort rubric available here.



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