Parent Book Club – Mindset

I have always enjoyed reading and now devote a lot of my reading time to educational blogs and books that expose me to various ideas and opportunities to improve education.  At some times, I feel like this can present some problems as we incorporate these ideas in our school without an awareness of why changes are being implemented throughout our parent community.  An example of this is some of the changes that have occurred in our school due to the work of Carol Dweck and her book Mindset.  I personally believe that the central idea of this book, promoting a growth mindset, has the ability to improve the learning experience for everyone in our school community.   Although our faculty has discussed Dweck’s work and how this can impact our classrooms, I was wondering how we could introduce our parent community to her work and discuss how parents can promote the growth mindset at home as well?

Fortunately, I have been working with a parent group this year to help me answer these types of questions.  Our solution was to organize a parent club that could read books like Mindset, meet to discuss the central ideas, and share how these ideas might impact their children.  Once we had all read the book, we met and focused our discussion around some simple questions.

1)   What was the most important lesson that you learned from the book?

2)   Share some experiences where you (or your child) has demonstrated the growth and fixed mindset

3)   Outline how a growth mindset and a fixed mindset parent would react to the following situations

  • Your child brings home a report card that falls short of everyone’s expectation
  • Your child achieves high honor roll status
  • Your child has just been cut from the U 14 basketball team

4)   What are some strategies that would help to promote the growth mindset at home and school?

These questions helped to facilitate some excellent discussions and I really enjoyed hearing many of our parents discuss how their interactions with their children have changed since reading the book.  I also loved talking about how our school has focused on the development of the growth mindset with our students.  That being said, my favorite aspect of the evening was the opportunity to share and collaborate how we could better promote this mindset at home and school.  Since the conversation was focused on an idea, our discussion was much more collaborative and informal than most parent presentations that I have had.   This relaxed atmosphere allowed our group to outline some great strategies for both parents and teachers, and demonstrated how school & parent partnerships can help our school improve.   At the end of the day, the book club was a great opportunity to involve our parent community in the discussions that are helping to move our school forward, and I am excited to find more opportunities to engage our parents in this process.


  1. Bill Burkhead said:

    Mark: I enjoyed your post. I am just curious to know wether you continued the book club with the parents by starting a new book, or if this was just a one time deal to begin dialogue with parents?


    February 17, 2011
    • Hey Bill,

      Thanks for the comment.

      We actually launched our second book club at the end of our meeting and will be reading “Drive” by Daniel Pink and talking about building intrinsic motivation in our students. I definitely envision that we will continue these meetings and plan on discussing 3 – 4 books each year. Any ideas for great books to read for parents?

      As I mentioned in my post, I think that this is a great way to engage parents and is very easy to organize. We use google docs at our school and developed a page for sign ups which you can see at the link below:

      Once we completed sign ups, a parent volunteer purchased and distributed the books to our members and we gave everyone about a month to read. The questions that we developed were more like conversation starters, but the actual meeting was very informal and we went off on some wonderful tangents outlining how we could utilize various strategies found in the book.

      Overall, considering how easy it is to organize, and hearing how much it was appreciated, definitely ensures that we will offer more book clubs in the future.

      February 17, 2011
      • Bill Burkhead said:

        Hi Mark: Love the idea of using google docs to organize book club! I was at a MA NEASC conference a few months back and a few principals were talking about a book they were having their staff read for a school book club – it was DRIVE. Of course I went home and bought it and really enjoyed it. I think it is an easy read and a terrific book for a book club. I am an avid reader and swear by the Jim Collins book Good to Great. I love the connection he makes that good is the enemy of great. He actually states that we don’t have many great schools because we have good schools. Many other parallels between business and education that I like. May be a good choice. I also thought the new controversial book Waiting for Superman might be a good choice. Terrific opportunity to put to rest some of the myths in the book begin a larger dialogue on education, specifically at our/your school. Good luck with the book clubs, I look forward to starting one. Have you ever held staff book clubs? Thanks again Mark for you insight!

        February 17, 2011
      • Rick Swanson said:

        Mark and Bill: I’ve got two suggestions from my experience as an assistant principal at a high school in the Greater Boston area. First, with our parent book group, we had good luck with a book by Madeline Levine called “The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids” (HarperCollins, 2006). Second, I’ve been pleased with recent faculty discussion of Doug Lemov’s “Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College” (Jossey-Bass, 2010). I’d strongly recommend both books.

        February 19, 2011
      • Bill Burkhead said:

        Thanks Rick! I was reading some reviews on the books you suggested and they were extremely positive. I had a question on the book “the price of privelage…” Is it just relative to affluent parents, or could it be appropriate for all parents? thanks again.

        February 20, 2011
      • I think it’s a great idea to involve parents in book clubs! I run a service for busy educational leaders called The Main Idea. Each month I summarize a current education book and send it to thousands of principals via email.

        I am going to be summarizing Mindset by Carol Dweck for my March book!

        This might be a resource to give people ideas for book clubs for teachers, school leaders, or parents. Take a look at the list of book summaries I have: (see PAST BOOK TITLES)

        I have one for Doug Lemov’s book, too!


        February 28, 2011
      • Rick Swanson said:

        Bill: To respond to your question about “The Price of Privilege,” I would recommend it for parents who are not affluent. The book’s main points about what good parenting looks like (and what bad parenting looks like) hold true for ALL parents regardless of socioeconomic status. Middle-income and/or poor parents may also find comfort in reading the work of a highly regarded psychologist who asserts that good parenting has nothing to do with money.

        March 1, 2011
  2. Russ Irving said:

    Greetings. I hope that I am not intruding.
    As a parent (albeit of 2 young men, now in their early 20’s), I must commend you on the idea of a book club for parents. We did not have that available and I wish that we did. Using books as a stepping stone for dialog is important.
    Likewise, I believe that one could engage teenagers in a similar book club. Whether to explore ideas in a book such as my new one, Teens! Improve Your Life – Don’t Overlook The Obvious, or another book that focuses on becoming a responsible adult… I do believe that these students will reach out when offered the opportunity.
    At any rate, I again applaud your efforts.

    April 8, 2011
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