What is Growth Mindset and How do we Encourage a Growth Mindset in our Classrooms?

What is Growth Mindset?

When Growth Mindset first became a buzz phrase in education, I was already retired, but many of my colleagues and my family have told me, since,  that I have a Growth Mindset.

Before this phrase, I was considered to have a positive, motivated personality where I never seemed to give up until I figured it out... so to speak... and I always took risks in my learning and teaching ...now to me and some others...those characteristics might be considered to be an obsessive compulsive type A personality, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that continuously thinking positively about situations and realizing that all things are possible if you try hard enough to achieve them, I am thinking Growth Mindset is just that!



Within your classroom, you can probably categorize your students into 2 or 3 basic groups: 


1.  Those that may not have the ability or talent, but consistently strive to do better and have the attitude that "I might not know it NOW, but if I keep trying, I will get it and be there."

2.  Those that have a strong ability and keep trying to get better and better, set goals and do their best to achieve those goals accepting the setbacks,but keep on trying.

3.  Those that have a fixed or closed mindset in that they just feel like they will never be where the others are and give up pretty easily and are overwhelmed or their spirit is devastated when they cannot do something or get what they need or want.

I am sure there may be more categories, but basically speaking, and I am not an expert on this topic, there are Growth Mindsets and Fixed Mindsets.


Think about it...I bet you can tell me exactly which of your family members fall into which category.


When students believe they can do something, they recognize that effort or consistently trying will make them better. That being said, they will put in extra time and effort, and that will lead them to higher achievement and success with their goals....simply put that is the foundation of a Growth Mindset!

According to Carol Dweck after studying the behavior of a plethora of students, she and her colleagues noticed that some students will move forward without a thought and others were crushed or overwhelmed by the smallest mistake or set back.

Dr. Dweck created Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset to describe the basic ideas people have about learning and intelligence or the ability to think and learn. (If you search Carol Dweck, you can find much research and articles on the topic of fixed and growth mindset...here is a great video to watch: The Power of Believing you can Improve)

I have always tried to have a Growth Mindset or in my case, a positive outlook and have encouraged and supported my own children and my students to embrace this thinking.  It is easy to say, “You can do it!” but more important to show or demonstrate how they can do this by getting students to think metacognitively or in other words, to think about their thinking and change their thinking from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset...or believing they can do it instead of They CAN'T do it!)

That being said, how do we achieve this type of thinking...or...Encourage a Growth Mindset in our classrooms? 


๐Ÿ˜ŠSelf Talk:                

Self talk can support your thinking in that what we "tell ourselves" is usually what we believe. So if you think you can do something, you usually will eventually be able to accomplish it.  

Now... that is not to say that it will happen magically, but it is to say that "hard work pays off!" Encourage this type of "talk" with your students and your own children!



๐Ÿ˜€Encouraging Words:  

As teachers, we need to support our students with positive language and encouraging words.  Use statements; such as:


You may feel like you can't do it right now, but if you study those words those words and work hard, you will eventually remember how to spell them!


Also: "I know it is hard sometimes to keep your hands to yourself, but if you remember to STOP and think, you will be able to control your actions."

Maybe you might try something like this:  " You might not be able to do this math problem right now, but my job is to teach you how to do it...so with my help you will learn this!"

Everyone can use a bit of encouragement in everything we encounter in life!


Let's remember to change, "I can't into I can't do this YET!


๐Ÿ˜Š Encourage Support that enables our students to gain confidence in their abilities to be Independent:   

Now that is a lot to think about...but what I am saying is not to help your students and children so much that we enable them to be helpless and always count on us to do it for them.

In other words give them responsibilities and support them as needed...don't do it for them, but scaffold the learning of a task or break it into manageable parts to build confidence.  I think you get what I mean...at least I hope you "GET IT!"

So...you give your students the tools needed to be successful with the task or concept and you show them how to do it, but allow them the time necessary to master the concept!


That may mean to differentiate your lessons as needed in order to show students they CAN DO IT!


It also means to show your students their growth...set a goal for a concept, set the steps to reach the goal and then show where they are in the beginning of a learning experience, where they are as they are learning a concept and then the end result or when they reach their goal.  This encourages a Growth Mindset and demonstrates with hard work you can achieve your goals.

This can easily be done with sight words, kid writing, math facts and really any learning concept or goal!


Here is a student using a sheet to set a goal, write how she feels and thinks about it,what steps she needs to take to accomplish her goal, which is to ride a two wheel bicycle, or she makes a plan and then she responds how she will feel when she achieves this goal!

๐Ÿ˜Š Encouraging Students to be Responsible: 

In my former classroom, I always assigned important classroom jobs to encourage responsibility in that if a child did not complete his/her classroom job, our classroom would not run as smoothly as it should.

Everyone had a job and an important responsibility in the morning and afternoon. If they forgot, we talked about how everyone makes mistakes and it is okay, tomorrow is another day and you have another chance to try it again...the next day,when the child remembered his job, imagine how s/he felt...you guessed it proud and confident and guess what s/he learned?  YEP...I can do it and it is ok to make a mistake...we learn from our mistakes!  they also learned that if we all work together we can accomplish a goal...in this case...making our classroom run smoothly!  Something as small as this can encourage a growth mindset.



๐Ÿ˜€Hearing Success Stories: 

Just hop on the internet and you will find many true stories of people who overcame hardships or difficulties in their life. Sharing these stories with your students and children will motivate them to do their best and show them that many times we think we  CAN'T do something but with hard work, determination and a positive attitude...WE CAN DO IT in time!






With the concept of Growth Mindset in mind, I have created a few Growth Mindset resources to support positive thinking and to encourage your students to change their thinking!  You can find these resources right here!                 
                                                                                                                                                               
These 2 resources are banners to hang in your classroom that present rules in an "I CAN" statement to encourage confidence and responsibility!


If you are looking for posters, writing frames and task cards to support Growth mindset, this is the resource for YOU!
Perhaps you are only interesting in Posters in Kid Friendly Language to hang in your classroom as reminders of how to think when you are faced with a problem and to encourage a Growth Mindset, then here you go!!                                                                 

This is just my opinion on how you can promote a Growth Mindset in your classroom ... I have many other ideas, but the purpose of blogging about a topic is to make it short and to the point!!!

I would LOVE to hear ideas that you have used in your classroom!  Please share your ideas in the comments below!!!




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