How to Encourage Growth Mindset

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Why is Growth Mindset Important?

Growth mindset is HUGE in the teaching community right now and for good reason too. As teachers, not only can you influence how students grow academically, you also have an enormous impact on their socio-emotional skills. 

Helping to shape students thoughts about THEMSELVES is one of the most important things a teacher can do. After all, what you tell yourself everyday becomes who you are. And we all want our future generation to bloom. Astronomically! That is why growth mindset activities are important - they help to change the words students use when they talk to themselves which is a lifelong skill that they can carry with them for years to come.

How to Create a Growth Mindset Classroom

Here is a list of 5 strategies that you can use to make your classroom a growth mindset fortress where mistakes are treasured, negative self-talk is eliminated and achievement anxiety is reduced.

1. Praise effort and behavior rather than 'smartness'

Growth mindset is all about effort. Phrases such as "You are so clever" should be replaced with phrases such as "You tried so hard with your writing today. It really shows" or "I loved how you took the time to plan out your story today." The emphasis should be on behavior and effort rather than on intelligence.That way every single student in your classroom can earn the sense of achievement that they deserve. This type of feedback is also useful and is something that students can actually USE. 

2. Surround students with positive words

Kids are the best imitators. What they see and hear becomes their inner voice. Modelling positive self-talk is a surefire way to help instil a growth mindset in students. When a student says "This is too hard", model how they can replace that with "What other strategies can I use to work this out?" Check out the other examples above too. Students will need a lot of scaffolding to help change their internal voice to begin with. However, soon enough you'll be giddy with happiness when you start to hear them use growth mindset language during their everyday discourse.

The physical environment is important too. As human beings we take in so many things from the environment around us. Positive words and affirmations can have a massive impact on mood. I love these gorgeous posters as a tool that can be referred to in times of 'fixed mindset.' They act as a reference point during challenging situations and can positively impact students' motivation and attitude (plus they are darn cute too!). You can grab them here

Tropical Growth Mindset Posters

3. Celebrate successes AND mistakes

Setting goals and working toward achieving them is an important part of cultivating growth mindset. When these goals are achieved, it's important that you celebrate them! I have created this "Proud Work Clip Card" freebie for you all to help celebrate student successes and encourage reflection. The clip cards are designed for students to clip onto their work when they feel they have done an amazing job. You can then snap a picture of their work and send it to parents. Alternatively, display the work on a WOW work display if the first option doesn't suit you. To set them up, all you need to do is print them, laminate them and glue them onto clips. Have a bunch of them in a basket near your turn-in area. It's as easy as 1.2.3. You can grab them for free here.
Now let's talk about mistakes for a hot second. Students often find mistakes and errors discouraging. Mistakes are bad, mistakes mean I'm no good, mistakes need to be avoided. But this can (and needs to) be changed! Create a classroom culture that values mistakes and identifies them as NORMAL. After all, mistakes need to be celebrated. They show us our gaps. We can't grow without gaps. Your classroom should be a space where it is safe to make errors and you achieve this by modelling it and using language that encourages it. 

4. Teach them to persevere

The  most rewarding things are often the hardest to come by and require us all to persevere. As the song goes, "If at first you don't succeed, pick yourself up and try again." OR should I say "If at first you don't succeed, you are NORMAL." We rarely get anywhere without failure happening first. You can teach students how to deal with failure by helping them to develop their perseverance skills. Model it, set appropriate challenges, reward effort and discuss it. Help shape the language they use too. When you catch them saying "I can't do this", help them replace it with "I can't do this YET." Soon enough, they'll start doing it on their own.

5. Use a variety of teaching and learning strategies

We all learned in Teaching 101 that students learn in different ways and that we should cater to all of their learning styles. However, it is also helpful to expose them to activities, content and instructional delivery that may not be exact match to them. This provides them with an extra challenge and helps them to develop a larger repertoire of skills in a diverse range of areas. These opportunities encourage growth and improve adaptability.

What other strategies do you use to promote growth mindset in your classroom? Comment below!

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