In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol S. Dweck, Ph. D. (2008), starts with the question: “What are the consequences of thinking that your intelligence or personality is something you can develop, as opposed to something that is a fixed, deep-seated trait?” (p. 4). Dweck states that “the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life” (p. 6). So why not view yourself with a growth mindset that is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts (p. 7) instead of with a fixed mindset that limits you from fulfilling your potential? Why not?
So why is having a growth mindset so important? Well, because, Dweck states, it’s not our abilities and talent that bring us success—but whether we approach our goals with a fixed or growth mindset. It is the love of learning and resilience that leads a path towards accomplishing great things—and continuing to embrace future challenges.
In her article, “How can you change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset,” Dweck (2010) answers everyone’s question by listing and explaining the following steps:
Step 1: Learn to hear your fixed mindset “voice.”
Step 2: Recognize that you have a choice.
Step 3: Talk back to it with a growth mindset.
Step 4: Take the growth mindset action.
I believe step one to be the most difficult when incorporating a growth mindset to your everyday life. Being aware of what you are thinking and saying and how you are thinking it and saying it is difficult to achieve when there are other preoccupations that need to be resolved in those moments. But once you get started, you cannot stop. As you accept and incorporate that growth mindset, it begins to become you—and you become it. After step one, all the other steps slowly start to fall into place.
It is especially important to incorporate a growth mindset in your classroom and your students. Every day, your students come to you with the question: What will we do today? And because as an educator, you provide a foundation for learning, you also provide your students with the opportunity to create a love for learning by facing them with challenges.
One of those challenges I plan to incorporate is project-based e-learning. Through this project-based e-learning context, the student will collaboratively solve a real-world problem or question using 21st century skills and digital tools. One of the many challenges students will face through this project is learning to collaborate with a group of students. Within that group, students will be faced with other questions like “who will be accountable for what?” and “how can we help each other accomplish each new task?” And through these questions, students will discover that either they have a fixed or growth mindset or they have both. My job is to not only introduce the two types of mindsets but also encourage the use of a growth mindset by first, incorporating it within myself and second, by incorporating it within all that is around me—including my students.
To learn more about my project-based e-learning plan, click here.
I would start with the general aspect of what is around me—the classroom. Every day, my students come in to the same four, white brick walls. Why not have them come in to the same four, white brick walls with growth mindset visuals, quotes, and phrases? Every now and then, a student is day-dreaming or wandering around to see what is more interesting than what you have to say about whatever your teaching. Let’s have them day-dream about growth mindset…
Next, I would incorporate a growth mindset lesson for that day or week. For younger students, such as my first graders, I would use Class Dojo’s Big Ideas series of growth mindset videos found here. I personally love watching them myself, so I don’t think there would be a problem with using them with older students as well. MindsetKit provides free mini lessons on teaching a growth mindset to students. These lessons include dialogue for what to say to students and videos for them to watch. For more resources on how to teach a growth mindset, you can visit this link from Edutopia.
“Yet,” a three-letter word, is a very strong and powerful word to use when incorporating a growth mindset within your classroom and your students. At the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, I was faced with a new student that had come directly from a Spanish-speaking country. Because of her age, she started out in second grade. After much testing, it was determined that she would have to move down a grade level. That’s how she ended up with me. Well, I also performed much testing, one of which was determining whether she knew the Spanish alphabet. Upon arriving on an unknown letter, she said, “I don’t know that letter.” As I reflect, my biggest mistake was not adding the word “yet” to her statement. See how that would have made a huge impact on her way of thinking?
Dialogue, such as the word “yet” in your speech, is an important aspect of incorporating a growth mindset. Giving praise is another aspect which you have to be careful with. Instead of saying “Great job!” or “You’re so smart,” I would try saying, “I like how you used lots of strategies to help you solve that problem” or “I see that you used a lot of color to show…”
But! The most important aspect of incorporating a growth mindset within your classroom and your students is being consistent! Always, always, always use a growth mindset décor, curriculum, and language-and do not stray from that.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorites from Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success:
“If people believe their qualities are fixed, and they have shown themselves to be smart or talented, why do they have to keep proving it? After all, when the prince proved his bravery, he and the princess lived happily ever after. He didn’t have to go out and slay a dragon every day. Why don’t people with the fixed mindset prove themselves and then live happily ever after?” (2008, p. 45).
Dweck, Carol S. (2008) Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Unites States: Ballantine Books.
Dweck, Carol. (2010). How can you change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset? Mindset. Retrieved from http://mindsetonline.com/changeyourmindset/firststeps/index.html.