Not long ago, I made a huge life change: I finally downloaded Venmo. Ok, maybe it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a huge life change, but it felt pretty big for me. I’ve always been something of an old soul. When it comes to shopping, I prefer to pay in cash. Until recently, all my bills were paid by check (sent through the actual postal service)!

I was always a bit intimidated by new aps which claimed to handle my financial needs within seconds. It was so much easier to stick with what I knew and accept any inconveniences that might come with it. In downloading Venmo, I had to make a conscious decision about learning new technology and familiarizing myself with a new system of payment. In teaching terms, I had to reject my initial fixed mindset and adopt a newer, growth mindset.

Time for a Change

Embracing a growth mindset is critical for students as they enter a world that is changing at a more rapid pace than ever before, with no signs of slowing down. As such, it might be helpful to review different areas where students might need help in moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Here are a few thoughts that can help cultivate a growth mindset within your classroom.

  • Skills and Intelligence: Students with a growth mindset believe we are born with different talents, but skills and intelligence can be learned, developed, and improved. Students with a growth mindset believe they can learn anything.
  • Challenges: Students with a growth mindset embrace challenges. They see them as an opportunity to succeed at something or at the very least to grow. They may even look forward to challenging projects and assignments.
  • Effort: Students should believe that regardless of talent, effort is essential to improving. They see it as the only path to mastering a particular topic or skill and understand that extra effort will be required to excel at anything.
  • Feedback: Students must understand that feedback is useful. They want to learn from criticism and will seek it out from teachers, parents, friends, and others.
  • Obstacles: Students should persist through setbacks. They are determined to work through obstacles and look forward to trying something a different way to find a solution.
  • Success of Others: Students with a growth mindset feel inspired by the success of others. They study successful people and seek ways to emulate them. They want to partner with peers who can bring out the best in themselves and their collective work.

Cultivating a Growth Mindset

Here are a few tips to begin cultivating a growth mindset in your classroom:

  • Let them fail.
  • Encourage them to add the word “yet.” (I haven’t gotten the experiment to work yet.)
  • Praise the process over the person.
  • Explain that skills such as creative thinking must be exercised to grow, just like muscles.
  • Teach them to seek learning over approval. (I see you got an A, but what did you learn?)
  • Eliminate negative connotation with the word “criticism”.
  • Encourage a new goal for every goal accomplished. Stay hungry.

Remember, when we help students move past a fixed thought process, there’s no limit to what they can achieve!

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*Image courtesy of Smihael via Wikimedia Commons.