The Power of Not Yet by @TeacherToolkit

Some of my most popular posts of 2014 were those that discussed praise, growth mindset, assessment and failure.
My final post for the year included thoughts about failure and the need to reflect and refine to move forward.
It is fitting to begin 2015 with a post that revisits and extends those themes. I’m sharing a post about The Power of Not Yet I read on @TeacherToolkit’s blog. The post includes a video of Carol Dweck explaining that

“if (students) didn’t pass a course, they got the grade “Not Yet.” And I thought that was fantastic, because if you get a failing grade, you think, I’m nothing, I’m nowhere. But if you get the grade “Not Yet” you understand that you’re on a learning curve. It gives you a path into the future.”

I would much rather consider that I have not yet achieved my writing goals, than think I failed to achieve them in 2014. Not yet means I am making progress, and will continue to do so in 2015 and beyond.
In the video Dweck shares research showing a difference that having a growth ‘not yet’ mindset can make to student effort and achievement.
For me, her most powerful statement is that at the end of the talk:

“Once we know that abilities are capable of such growth it becomes a basic human right for children, all children, to live in places that create that growth, to live in places filled with yet.”

It’s a bit like learning to ride a bike. There is no failure, just stages of growth in ability.

I hope you enjoy the article, and especially, Carol Dweck’s video.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I value your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.

25 thoughts on “The Power of Not Yet by @TeacherToolkit

  1. clodge2013

    Hi Norah, good on you and Carol Dweck for promoting the ‘not yet’ approach. I think it’s great for adults as well as kids, and I’m trying to approach my writing course in the same frame of mind.
    Caroline

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  2. Sarah

    Children often have such black-and-white thinking, that “fail” is, to them, a final determination. I love the idea of a grade of “not yet” because that allows them to see there is something beyond a failing grade.

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  3. Hope (@NannyShecando)

    Oooh I really like this one! I’ve often been a persistent person, never taking the word “no” as a final answer. Some often thought I had a sheer inability to follow rules. But I like to think of it as just “not yet”. The opportunity is always there for a different result!

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  4. Matt Renwick

    Great reminders here, Norah, about the power of language. Your post makes me want to go back and reread Mindset by C Dweck and Opening Minds by P Johnston. This idea, of the words we use to shape students’ learning, is so fundamental and essential to our professions as educators.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for joining in the conversation Matt; and for the suggestion of books to read. I find I am learning a lot from you, which is wonderful. Words are definitely a very empowering commodity; throughout life!

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  5. TanGental

    I can see huge benefit in a not yet mindset but there are times when getting it right at that particular point is crucial and that’s a lesson to be learnt too. We cannot completely eradicate the notion of failure and transplant it with a learning curve but equally using set backs as tool to move forward are important. The lesson is surely that we need to find the myriad ways to encourage and use whatever it takes to inspire children and indeed adults to keep learning and trying.

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    1. Norah Post author

      And you’re right of course. I don’t want my surgeon to be still on the ‘not yet’ learning curve, but I don’t think that is the intention of the thinking. We do need that myriad of ways to encourage and inspire, and I appreciate your contribution to my continued learning. 🙂

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  6. writersideup

    I love this thought “It’s a bit like learning to ride a bike. There is no failure, just stages of growth in ability.” It’s so much better than the word “failure,” which, although accurate if you haven’t (yet) achieved something, but has such a negative connotation. For me, I don’t set goals about “this month” or “this year” or “next year.” They are ongoing. I’ve discovered life doesn’t typically allow for the larger goals within a strict time frame so I don’t do it. Deadlines? That’s different and typically involves pressure! lol

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    1. Norah Post author

      I think I’m with you in setting time frames. Sometimes a good ‘deadline’ helps reel those time frames in though. Thanks for your comment, and I look forward to seeing what you produce in 2015, and beyond! 🙂

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  7. Bec

    A great concept and article you have shared here Nor. You have me convinced that ‘not yet’ is a great way to not be discouraging while grading progress. Reminds me of how you never would use a ‘red pen’ because of the connotations it carries (you did that, didn’t you?).

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Bec, Thanks for your comment. You are correct about the red pen. I didn’t mark a child’s work with a red pen, nor did I place an x beside an answer. If it was a test with no opportunity for another attempt, I would mark and count only the correct responses. If there was an opportunity to try again or to receive support I may have indicated that with a small dot. In their writing, I would get them to circle the parts with which they wanted help and we would work on those first, and I mostly used pencil for my suggestions. I couldn’t see the point in defacing a child’s work with red pen, or pointing out errors as anything other than to inform my teaching or provide students with another opportunity to work it out for themselves if they were able.

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