I have never been good with technology. Whether it’s computers or smartphones, the mysteries of the mechanical world have always frustrated me. If I’m being honest, it’s turned me into something of an anachronism. I prefer sending hand-written letters over posting on social media. Board games thrill me far more than the latest gaming system, and all my electronics are at least 10 years out of date.

Still, working alongside educators has taught me the value of keeping pace with our changing world. There’s nothing wrong with being old-fashioned but holding to a fixed mindset can be a problem. It keeps us from acquiring new knowledge, from creating new solutions to old problems, and from pursuing personal growth. As educators, we need to make a conscious choice to model a growth mindset both within and outside the classroom. Not only is it vital to our personal development, but our students need to see it as well.

Getting Started

This may seem pretty redundant to most teachers, but the lesson itself is timeless. 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 revisit some of the established strategies to ensure students are 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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