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Growth Mindset


(4) Reward effort, not ability
Rewards are a key factor in education, and therefore must be chosen and used with care. As teachers, we’ll achieve better results by rewarding effort more and intelligence less. Why? Because by congratulating our students on their intelligence, we are supporting the fixed mindset, prioritizing the importance of initial capacity over capacity for growth. And the message they receive is ‘I did it because I am intelligent’. However, if we reward progress and effort, they will understand that the way to achieve things is to work hard and keep trying. This enhances growth mindset behaviors.

(3) Use the word “yet”
The words “yet” and “still” have positive impacts on student motivation. It’s not the same to say ‘you don’t know’ as it is to say ‘you don’t know yet’. That word, “yet,” motivates you to continue working and try to fix the problem. It’s a way to tell the brain that although it hasn’t found the solution yet, it will do so if it continues with its effort.

(2) Turn it into a lesson
Why not devote a class to working on this? The results will be well worth the time spent. One way to introduce the concept of the growth mindset is to give an initial test. You may submit these or similar statements for them to indicate whether or not they agree.

  • Intelligent people do not need to exercise their brains.
  • We are born with a certain amount of intelligence and this is something that cannot be changed.
  • When you practice something a lot, you can develop your ability and become great at that activity.

Once they have responded, the next thing will be to explain a little about the two types of mindsets and the advantages of developing a growth mindset. Finally, provide some recommendations for developing the growth mindset, such as:

  • Take challenges as a stimulus, an opportunity to learn and improve
  • Do not give up when faced with difficulties. Or at least don’t give up to the first issue you face
  • Look for new paths, new ways to do things
  • Value the importance of effort as part of learning and growth
  • Ask for feedback from the people around us, and accept it with sportsmanship when it is not as good as we would like

How can you develop the growth mindset in the classroom? Below are 6 easy-to-use strategies for both in-person and virtual teaching:

(1) Teach your students that the brain can be taught
Show your student body that the brain can be trained like a muscle. It’s important to explain to them that each time they learn something new that’s difficult for them, their neurons create new connections, new paths, that are strengthened by practicing what they learn. This will facilitate future learning. Using a dynamic that helps students visualize this will help them to leave their fixed mindset behind and advance on the path of self-confidence.

Having a growth mindset means being aware that skills are not something that is predetermined, but rather something we can acquire if we invest the time and effort needed. You can't talk about the growth mindset without mentioning Carol Dwek, the psychologist who coined this term. Dwek believes that there are two types of mindsets: the “growth mindset” and the “fixed mindset.”

  • People with a growth mindset believe in continued growth, their ability to acquire new knowledge and skills.
  • People with a fixed mindset believe that we are born with talent and qualities that cannot be changed and that determine our possibilities in life.

One of the most interesting features of the growth mindset is that the growth mentality can be learned. This is great news, as this mentality is especially helpful in preventing students from being easily frustrated and hesitant about their learning abilities. Learning to develop a growth mindset will help students lose fear of mistakes, improve self-confidence, and continue working to overcome problems. It’s the basis for acquiring qualities such as resilience or the ability to learn from failures, which are valuable in adulthood, too.

(5) Talk more about progress and less about results
In general, the education system only takes results into account. Although new educational strategies are increasingly popular, grades are often the only way to measure student performance for the time being. However, you can teach your students that progress and effort is what matters most to you. You can create your own success metrics to make this visible, and even make your students self-evaluate based on those metrics.

(6) Be the example
It’s known that students look more at what you do than what you say, which explains why being an example is so effective in education. What if you use your own mistakes as opportunities to teach? When you do something wrong, don't try to hide your mistake. Acknowledge it, show it to the class, and explain how you will continue to work to improve as a teacher. It’s difficult to see your own mistakes and make something positive of them, so your example of this will be valuable.