As teachers, we tend to be a little skeptical when we hear a new trend in Education. It’s not that we do not want to continue learning and helping our students;  it’s that we have learned there is no magic answer to help all students become great learners. “Growth Mindset” isn’t a new trend but it’s definitely one that is being discussed among psychologists and educators today.

What is mindset?   Mindset is the concept of how students’ perceive their abilities. Students who believe their intelligence can be developed (growth mindset)  perform better than those who believe their intelligence reaches an end point (fixed mindset).  When teachers were given this information, they began to apply mindset principles in their classrooms.  It became popular and revealed many great results.

We know developing mindset is effective.  The reason this is such a hot topic again is that somewhere over the course of the last few years educators have begun to equate mindset with effort.  Effort is vital for student achievement but it is not the only way.  Students need to do more than ‘TRY”.  They need to succeed!  That means trying different approaches, in order to learn.  It is our job as teachers to show them new strategies.  Children need a bank of approaches to tackle a new “problem”.  That is growth mindset.  Effort is  essential in order to reach SUCCESS.   

The other reason this is such a hot topic is the fixed mindset “excuse”.  We do the same thing when we blame the environment and student ability. Teachers have been using the expression fixed mindset as a justification for students not learning.   Again our role as a teacher is not to explain why someone CANNOT learn but to FIND a way to unlock that learner!

Together, we can help develop that repertoire of strategies and approaches so that each of our students becomes a lifelong learner!  We need to accept that all people have growth and fixed mindsets.  Yes, students have fixed mindsets, but how can we develop their understanding of a growth mindset?  It is the way we speak to children that will help them overcome their mindset.  Example:  “Not everyone is good at math. Do your best.”  FIXED MINDSET   Although you are trying to say something encouraging, you have validated that they are not good in math.   What should be said?  “That feeling of math being hard is actually your brain growing!”  GROWTH MINDSET  This is a positive spin on a negative feeling.  My math brain is growing and sometimes that hurts!  Please share how you have developed a growth mindset in your school.

Submitted by: Laura Hickey, Instructional Media Specialist