You’ve heard of “growth mindset” but you still might be wondering what growth mindset is all about!
Growth mindset is a term that Carol Dweck, Ph.D., a leading researcher in the fields of personality, social psychology and developmental psychology from Stanford University, has coined as a way to describe a person’s mindset about his/her intelligence.
In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck lays out the evidence she and her team collected through years of research, which reinforces a simple but powerful theory: human intelligence, creativity, and other qualities are not fixed traits that we are born with. She proposes the idea that our brain is malleable and with time and effort traits can change. She considers two types of mindsets when describing them – “growth mindset” and “fixed mindset.”
A fixed mindset is a belief system that suggests that a person has a predetermined amount of intelligence, abilities, skills or talents.
Those with a fixed mindset have bought into the idea that you are born with a level of intelligence or abilities – they cannot be changed. In other words, your born with it, it should come easily to you, and if it doesn’t, you might as well forget about it.
Fixed Mindset Look-Fors
In our classrooms, students with a fixed mindset may give up easily and not engage in the learning process. They believe that talent alone will bring success (without effort.) And if they aren’t talented in that area, why put forth the effort. Also, keep an eye for students that would prefer to look smart than to take a risk. These students will take the easier questions and won’t try in areas they aren’t guaranteed success.
Common phrases you might hear:
- “I’m not a math person.”
- “I hate doing science. I’d rather write.”
- “If I don’t get the right answer, I get mad at myself.”
- “My sister is the smart one. I’m the athletic one.”
- “What’s the point in trying.”
- “Those kind of problems are easy for me.”
- “I’ll never be able to do/earn/achieve that.”
Finally, it’s important to realize that people with a fixed mindset might not be aware of it. You will have students that have a fixed mindset. (You might even have their names running through your mind.) It is important that you don’t tell them they have a fixed mindset. Students don’t need to know these “labels” to move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.
A growth mindset is a belief system that suggests that one’s intelligence can be grown or developed with persistence, effort, and a focus on learning.
Learners with a growth mindset believe they can learn just about anything. It might take some struggle and some failure, but they understand that with effort and perseverance, they can succeed. The focus is on learning, and not on looking smart.
Growth Mindset Look-Fors
In our classrooms, students with a growth mindset see qualities such as intelligence, athletic abilities, or artistic abilities as qualities that can be changed and improved with time and effort. A person with a growth mindset operates under the impression that our qualities are not inherent or that we are only given so much of them, but relies more on the effort we dedicate to a given pursuit. These students see challenges as fun and as a learning opportunity.
Common phrases you might hear:
- “I’ll give it a try.”
- “If you give me enough time, I can learn that.”
- “I’m motivated when I see others succeed.”
- “I’m not giving up.”
- “When I try, I know that I am getting smarter.”
- “I’m going to stick with it until I find the answer.”
- “Each week I’ll run a little bit more until I can run a lot.”
Getting Started with Growth Mindset
After studying growth mindset for some time, I’ve learned there are four different areas to focus on when trying to grow and improve students’ mindsets.
- Celebrate Approximations
- Praise Effort
- Brain-Related Knowledge
- Approaching Challenges/Goals
In my Growth Mindset Notes, I cover these four areas and provide you with note cards that you can give to your students to continue to encourage and motivate.
These notes will help you praise your students for their effort, actions or tasks that they do. I have found that they encourage students to attribute their success to their own effort.
Hopefully, after reading this you are ready to dive more Growth Mindset and how to use it with your students!
There is still sooooo much more to dive into regarding this topic! I am passionate about this! Here are more growth mindset topics that you might like to explore:
- How to create a growth mindset classroom environment
- How to praise so that your students have a growth mindset
- Creating an environment that looks at failure or mistakes as part of learning. Take the shame out of mistakes!
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