Created in full partnership with Karen Flories, Professional Development Consultant with Corwin Press @karen_flories 

A formative mindset combines three CORE Elements: Teacher Clarity, Formative Assessment, & Feedback. Embedded within the framework is a deep look at how our beliefs drive all of our actions as well as how to monitor the impact of our actions related to our beliefs from the view and perception of our students or those we serve.

Developing a Formative Mindset(R)

Diagnose→ Prognose

A formative mindset gets lived out everyday by teachers and school level leaders by focusing on the two most important things we do every day in our schools in classrooms: diagnose student learning needs and determining the prognosis and best course of treatment. 

Explanation of Four Quadrants of A Formative Mindset Matrix

The practical application of balancing diagnosing current levels of students learning and the prognosis educators make in determining their actions and the possible timeframe needed for students to be able to reach a specific level of mastery or proficiency is the formative mindset matrix.  The vertical axis reflects the level of diagnostic approach educators take when determining the current learning levels of the students they are working with. The more quality evidence that is gathered by teachers helps them better make a quality diagnosis.

Decisively Surgical

In this quadrant everything is instructionally humming. The teacher is fully aware of the needs of the students in her class and has a repertoire of strategies for effectively responding to those needs. The teacher purposely designs learning tasks to elicit the needed evidence for quality inference making on where to next. The teacher ensures that feedback is reciprocal, timely, and always linked to the purpose of moving students forward. The learning environment is healthy and safe and relational trust is highly present. The growth and achievement of students is steadily growing when teachers are in this quadrant.


In this quadrant the teacher is very aware of the academic needs of his students, but is not instructionally responding appropriately. The teacher may not know what the next steps are in closing the diagnosed gaps, or perhaps the planned “curriculum” doesn’t allow for the teacher to do anything except keep moving along regardless of whether students have mastered the material. Despite the variables that brought a teacher to this quadrant, there is tremendous opportunity to move into the Decisively Surgical quadrant, which would be instructional nirvana. If the teacher could become equipped with strategies on what to do with the inferences made from evidence of student learning elicited, the shift can then be made.

Ready Fire AIM!

In this quadrant the teacher has a plan that is full steam ahead but is moving forward with no knowledge on the impact any instructional choices will have on student learning. This quadrant is much safer than the two mentioned above, as it doesn’t require an opportunity for the unknown. The teacher has her curriculum and it is delivered blanketly to the students in her classroom. Without a doubt, there are some students who will benefit from the instruction of the teacher in this quadrant, but it will most likely be a result of already coming into the classroom at a somewhat proficient level, or positively responding to the inflexible curriculum the teacher is delivering.

Flying Blind

In this quadrant the teacher is unaware of not only the academic needs of his students but also any instructional next steps that would propel their growth and achievement. Teachers in this quadrant may be the perfect platform for development, if they are receptive, because their likelihood for quick success is high compared to success from their past practices. They would benefit greatly from support in instructional planning and delivery starting with identifying the purpose of each lesson and building on from there.


Developing a Formative Mindset 1-2 Day Workshops / Seminars:

Bring Dave and Karen and Developing a Formative Mindset to your school or district. Contact Dave and Karen.