The Power of Not Yet

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The Power of Not Yet Carol Dweck Marking Red Pen


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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This is a blog about The Power of Not Yet and how the ‘Not Yet’ theory may be applied in your classroom tomorrow!

I am introducing this assessment philosophy into my own classroom throughout 2015 and will feedback the results …


Last week, I blogged my Thoughts on Mastery in the Classroom and in this blog, I said “If you want to be masters of our classrooms and for our students to have implicit memory functions,  we need to develop a level of awareness as classroom practitioners. As teachers we should consider what content to teach next; what the student will do to learn and what the teacher will do to facilitate the acquisition of that learning.”

My conclusion states that the first decision of teaching is based on content, the what of teaching, the second decision is directed at the student behaviour that makes learning possible, the student’s how of learning. And finally that the ‘why‘ of teaching is often left behind in so many of our day-to-day decisions in the classroom. If we could all consider the why of teaching, we may then be able to equip ourselves, as well as our students, to acquire mastery in the classroom.


The Power of Not Yet Carol Dweck

Dweck and Mindset

I have been reluctant to blog about Dweck and Growth and Fixed mindset, because I have been slow to get up to speed with the research. In the meantime, this fabulous TED talk by Dweck explains The Power of Not Yet and how I may be able to apply this into my very own classroom; perhaps even whole-school? In the video, Dweck shares “growth mindset — the idea that we can grow our capacity to learn and to solve problems. In this video, Dweck describes two ways to think about a problem that’s slightly too hard for you to solve. Are you not smart enough to solve it … or have you just not solved it yet?”

I particularly like the idea of feeding back to students whilst encouraging them to try again. The video is 10 minutes long.

Not Yet

I have cliped most of the transcript to include the key elements and questions I’d like to pose for my own use in the classroom. Dweck says;

0:12 “I heard about a high school in Chicago where students had to pass a certain number of courses to graduate, and if they 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.

3:12 How are we raising our children? Are we raising them for now instead of yet? Are we raising kids who are obsessed with getting A’s? Are we raising kids who don’t know how to dream big dreams? Their biggest goal is getting the next A or the next test score? And are they carrying this need for constant validation with them into their future lives? Maybe, because employers are coming to me and saying, we have already raised a generation of young workers who can’t get through the day without an award.

4:01 So what can we do? How can we build that bridge to yet?

4:08 we can praise wisely, not praising intelligence or talent ... But praising the process that kids engage in: their effort, their strategies, their focus, their perseverance, their improvement. This process praise creates kids who are hardy and resilient.

4:38 We recently teamed up with game scientists from the University of Washington to create a new online math game that rewarded yet. In this game, students were rewarded for effort, strategy and progress. The usual math game rewards you for getting answers correct, right now, but this game rewarded process. And we got more effort, more strategies, more engagement over longer periods of time, and more perseverance when they hit really, really hard problems.

5:24 Just the words “yet” or “not yet,” we’re finding, give kids greater confidence, give them a path into the future that creates greater persistence. And we can actually change students’ mindsets. 

8:23  Before, effort and difficulty made [students] feel dumb, made them feel like giving up, but now, effort and difficulty, that’s when their neurons are making new connections, stronger connections. That’s when they’re getting smarter.

Classroom Practice

So, with this in mind, I will attempt to use this in my own classroom during 2015 and feedback before the summer. This may or may not work, but one can only find out with classroom practice. This may lead to a set of new classroom resources – and I will do all I can to avoid stamps and stickers – whether it is a grade, a number or an obsolete national curriculum level, students will receive a ‘Not Yet’ in their coursework, tests and exercise books in my class. It sounds simple, but this will be attached to a form of assessment in order for the students to ‘act upon’ the feedback received.

As we know, whatever the feedback is, it must be sophisticated and explicit, even if something is branded with ‘Not Yet’ alongside a ‘grade A’. I will report back …


The Power of Not Yet Carol Dweck

22 thoughts on “The Power of Not Yet

  1. Hi Ross. Very interesting. I too saw the Dweck video and liked the not yet. One question: do you mean you’ll stamp it “not yet” even if they have reached their target grade? Perhaps I’ll have to wait for the follow up blog. Nadolig Llawen.

  2. I’ve used NY very powerfully with homework tasks at KS4/5. I mark assignments similar to the Chicago example – at target, above target or NY. All these also got a next steps/EBI. If a HW gets an NY, students re-do it next time rather than undertake a new task. Students loved it, made rapid improvements and often chose to do NY tasks and new tasks too.

    1. I love this idea of on target/ above target or not yet…builds resilience and patience. I already use EBI but will also adopt next steps…idea of redoing HWK also good….got me thinking about positive thinking for 2015 and making changes in my classroom . Thanks for sharing…

  3. Hi Ross – I’ve used this with KS4/5 homework assignments. Students get either at target, above target or NY as a ‘mark’. All get an EBI. If they get NY they re-do the assignment rather than a new one next time. Students loved it, made rapid improvements and often chose to do a new assignment as well as the NY one. Highly recommend it.

  4. Good article. I am also thinking of trialing the ‘not yet’ idea in one of my classrooms after slowly getting up to speed with growth mindset theory. We have Tony Swainston delivering an inset on 5th Jan so will have more direction and ideas soon hopefully. Current model I use is less about grades and targets and more about feedback and feedforward so students are constantly redrafting work whenever I can work time into lessons for growth.

  5. I like this idea of ‘not yet’ rather than failure. It changes the perspective from one of defeat to one of ‘can do/will do”. Thank you for sharing Dweck’s video. I have read other of her work, but not previously watched this video.

    1. Thanks Norah. This is one idea that as teachers, we probably all do subconsciously. So it’s been interesting to read and promote this concept and ask as teachers, if making conscious decisions about our language and choice of words, can really make an impact on student outcome.

      1. It is one I hope we do, but fear we don’t as often as we could/should. I think these subtle tweaks to the way we interact with others, including students, can make a big impact on their attitudes and, as a result, achievements.
        I enjoyed your article so much that I will be reblogging it as my first post in the new year. Thank you for such great material. I look forward to reading your following posts on the topic.

  6. Interesting article on growth mindset I have been running this in my school since September with year 7 would be good to touch base, already seen some great results which will be rolled out to the rest of my school.

  7. Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:

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

  8. Just beginning to consider how this can look in a primary setting, with a focus on literacy. Used it with a group of 4 underachieving boys last term and it majorly motivated them. “Have a I got there now?” was a frequent question and they were determined to keep on pushing further and further.

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