How to Teach About Growth Mindset…

I get a sense that this is the post many of you have been waiting for, the juicy post with all the details and all the strategies and ways to introduce, teach and talk about growth mindset in the classroom.

I will stop you all right there with a disclaimer: I don’t have the answer to the above question. However, I will share what I have trialed, the different things I have learned and ideas I have or have found around teaching your students about growth mindset. I don’t believe there is one way or even a right or wrong way to MUTCD_R1-1.svgteach about growth mindset… and that attitude demonstrates a growth mindset in itself.

However, I do think there are some considerations to reflect upon when thinking about teaching this mindset to your students. First and foremost, educators must understand growth mindset and be willing to demonstrate it daily in their every-day including in their teaching before they start talking to their students about it. However, if you were to notice that you’ve got a fixed mindset, but you have the awareness and the belief of the strength and importance of a growth mindset, I believe it would be an exciting time and opportunity to embark on the learning journey alongside your students. It is crucial you remember the importance of your students’ emotional well-being throughout your teaching and activities as this is at the core of their mental health and will support your teaching overall.

Where did I start? Through listening to the audio book “Mindset for Success” I learned to gain a greater understanding of fixed and growth mindset and instances where I may have seen one or the other in my daily life.

Halfway through the audio book, I hadn’t gotten a sense of concrete ways to teach about growth mindset, however that may be for a few reasons:

  • Perhaps it is because I am more of a visual learner rather than auditory, I may not have been grasping the full concepts
  • Perhaps because Mindset for Success is not a guide for teachers and teaching about growth mindset, it simply teaches you about the concept and gives you examples where it may be seen.
  • Perhaps I needed to tap into other sources.

I needed to find an engaging and fun way to teach my students about growth mindset. Take a look at the blog post that I stumbled upon here: “Teaching Kids to Struggle

What are your thoughts regarding teaching kids to struggle? What considerations might you have in mind regarding this challenge you might present to your students? In my next post, you’ll hear how this experience went for my students in my Grade 4 French Immersion practicum class.

What is Growth Mindset?

If you’ve read my first two posts already, you might still be wondering what is growth mindset and why I think it is important. A simple way to understand the difference between growth and fixed mindset is explained below with the help of Sylvia Duckworth’s work put into a graphic.

Created by Reid Wilson @wayfarepath (Twitter)

A fixed mindset refers to one’s belief that they are born with a certain amount of intelligence and that they this will be their experience for their life. Parents’ sharing of their “thought to be” innate skills and abilities can further reinforce a fixed mindset for their children. For example if a child hears their parent say “I was never good at math, sorry, I can’t help you”. This reinforces to the child that this information is fact and cannot be changed or improved upon.

A growth mindset is the belief that one can develop skills and achieve anything they set their mind to. Those who utilize a growth mindset think in terms of “I can” and “I will”. Further, a growth mindset recognizes the value in failure and mistakes and that these help us to learn and grow.

Another way to describe the fixed mindset is “all or nothing thinking”. This used to be me. I often thought if something bad happened in my day it meant I had a really bad day, I came to a point that I started recognizing good moments in otherwise challenging days and I focused on those to say that I had a good day instead and that I overcame challenges because I was able to.

Can you think of a time or a moment where you’ve had a fixed mindset and how you could alter that statement to reflect a growth mindset?

Teaching and Learning about Growth Mindset – The Plan

In order to effectively learn more about growth mindset, I thought I should have a general plan though some of this has come more as part of a process. My primary source of information will be found through the purchase of Carol Dweck’s audio-book: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Listening to this audio-book on a regular basis and consulting different blog posts will help me to gain an understanding of growth mindsets as well as why they are important.

Screenshot of my Audible App listening to Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Further, exploration of blogs can help provide more concrete evidence of ways to apply and encourage students to practice growth mindsets. However, before I can begin to teach about it and have my students experience it, I must gain an understanding of what these mindsets entail first and foremost.

Once I have gained an understanding and listed different ways and strategies to share the learning with my students, I will need to develop and outline the vocabulary in French as I am teaching in a French-immersion classroom.

Many graphics to support this concept can be found on Pinterest which links out to different blogs, a couple of my favourites that I have taken a look at include: Mon cahier d’écolier  and Musings from the Middle School Classroom.


Why learn about “Growth Mindset”?

In the last year, in my studies, I have heard and implicitly learned a little about growth mindset and fixed mindset. Though I have a general understanding of what it means to have a growth mindset, I wasn’t sure I could explicitly explain this concept and apply it.

I had listened to an audio-book entitled The Champion’s Mind which truly helped me dial in a positive attitude about my life and passion for exercising my mind and body. Using mantras and positive self-talk has truly helped me to live a happier and more fulfilling life.

Many times I have heard people around me engage in negative self-talk…aloud! I started noticing some of my students in my practicum classroom and other individuals I worked with in different settings use negative statements such as “I suck”, “I’ve never been good at this”, “I won’t be able to do it”, “I don’t think I can do this”, “This is too difficult”.

In high school I suffered a very challenging depression. I often engaged in the above self-talk, even worst. I surfaced this depression when I found The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Which taught me that I was in control of my life and my experiences. I could create my happiness.

Researching and learning about growth mindset is much like the concepts explored in The Secret, The Champion’s Mind and another one of my favourite’s; The Power. However, Carol Dweck and Sylvia Duckworth’s work appears to make these abstract mindsets more concrete. This is a perfect tool to help students recognize their potential and that they can achieve many things if they utilize a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset.