Teaching growth mindset in the classroom is a critical skill you don’t want your students to lack. Today I’ll be explaining my growth mindset lesson plans and the growth mindset resources I use in my classroom.
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” (Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck, 2015)
One of the biggest things we as teachers encounter are students with a fixed mindset. They believe they aren’t smart. The practice you give them is feels useless to them and perpetuates the cycle of “feeling stupid.” How can we change our student’s mindsets? How can we get them to understand that they have their whole life ahead of them and they are limiting themselves? I don’t have a full answer for you yet, but I have a place to start.
Growth Mindset in Schools
Early in my career, I read a growth mindset article titled “You Can Grow Your Intelligence.” It discusses how the brain is a muscle filled with neurons. When we learn new things and challenge ourselves, these neurons multiply and get stronger. As the brain gets stronger, “impossible” things become easier.
I always read this article at the beginning of the year and during testing season. Most students believe people are born smart or conversely born “not being good at xyz.” However according to growth mindset research, most of it comes down to practice and duration. As teachers we can encourage practicing growth mindset and practicing those talents and skills that are important to our students.
For example, a student who learns to speak 2 languages when they’re very young has stronger neurons in that regard. However, another student can learn to speak both languages very well if they continue working at it and give it enough time.
What’s crazy is our students miss out on the chance to grow a stronger brain because they think they can’t, or it’s too hard. This is why a growth mindset curriculum is so critical.
The Problem with a Fixed Mindset
The problem with a fixed mindset is an obvious one. Our students are not fulfilling their potential. This isn’t just an individual issue, but a worldly one. Imagine if classrooms were implementing growth mindset lessons in the classroom starting from Kindergarten through 12th Grade? Our students wouldn’t be limiting themselves and it could ultimately change their future. Imagine a world where all our students actually believed in their ability to learn.
Having a Positive Mindset
This also relates to having a positive mindset. People think thousands of thoughts a day and many have a “habit” of thinking negatively. However, it’s JUST a neural pathway. We can rewire our brains and choose a new more positive thought.
If a person has low self esteem …. build a new pathway.
Trouble sticking with going to the gym/eating healthy?…build a new pathway.
My point is… we have the ability to change things in our life by simply practicing and being patient. However, it requires that commitment despite the obstacles, much like breaking any other habit. The key difference is this habit has been built over a lifetime. If we can start growth mindset exercises and begin growth mindset in schools, this can become a habit early on.
I think it’s important for our students to understand this as well as ourselves. They need to believe in themselves and know that with time they will grow in whatever way they want, as long as they are dedicated and we are there to teach them. They can’t learn this important lesson without us first explaining it. We also need to believe in ourselves, take action, and be patient. The growth lies in the struggle. Build a new pathway.
Teaching Growth Mindset Resources
In a previous blog post, I outlined three simple ways to start teaching growth mindset in your classroom. I also included my growth mindset book recommendations.
You can also check out the Carol Dweck Growth Mindset Ted Talk or Class Dojo on Youtube. They both provide a lot of useful information and growth mindset tips you can use in your classroom. If you are looking for a month to month guide for teaching growth mindset, check out Annie Brock’s series.
Ashley at Pencils and Playgrounds is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.