Five Ways to Create a Growth Mindset in Teachers and Students

So you have decided to incorporate strategies that develop a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset in your classroom but are unsure how to move forward. Well, here are five tips to help you get started on creating a growth mindset culture in your classroom.

1. Change your mindset

One of the fundamental principles of a growth mindset is the willingness to change the current approach to a new one when faced with failure. During professional development workshops, teachers should be persuaded to develop growth mindsets by encouraging them to see themselves as learners and letting them know that it is okay to try new things in the classroom and not succeed as making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn and grow.

2. Quieten that critical inner voice

To change one’s mindset is never easy and most likely it will not occur overnight. One way to progress is to learn to recognise and work with the critical inner voice which always tries to dissuade us from continuing and urges us to give up whenever faced with a challenge. This voice is the strongest in individuals with a fixed mindset. We need to learn to quieten this voice or even work with it if we are to advance to a growth mindset. This means that whenever you hear the voice tell you “this is stupid! I don’t know how to solve this question” you can answer it with “yet. I don’t know how to answer it yet, but with a little effort, hard work and practice I will be able to solve it”. Over time your inner critical voice will be suppressed, and you will face challenges with a positive attitude.

3. Reflect on your actions

Anytime an action has been taken it is important to think about the choices made. Ask yourself could you have completed the task differently. If yes, how? Or if not, why? Reflections allow for deeper understanding and are important regardless of the outcome; success or failure, due to the lessons learnt along the way. You can achieve this in the classroom by inviting students to discuss or write about challenges or any obstacles or goals they are looking or have overcome through patience, practice, and hard work. This gets them into the habit of reflecting on their actions as well as creates a growth mindset by reminding them that they can achieve their goals with hard work and effort.

4. Mind your feedback

As teachers, we often give feedback for motivation and improvement, but the type of feedback we provide is important especially when it comes to influencing mindsets. As mentioned in our previous post, any feedback that relates to a comment on intelligence or smartness will quickly and negatively affect students who hold a fixed mindset. In fact, a study found that when intelligence was praised, less persistence, enjoyment and worse performance was observed than when praised for effort. We should choose feedback that praises effort, perseverance, and commitment to encourage students to embrace growth and accept challenges.

5. Provide meaningful work

The tasks you set your students to carry out in class or at home should be challenging for all your students irrespective of differing mental capacities. At the end of the tasks, the students should be left feeling satisfied with the efforts they put in and should have come out of it by learning some new skills or a deeper understanding of their thought and learning process. When solving questions in class for your students, it is always a good idea to approach the problem with enthusiasm and get the students excited to approach the challenge. Perhaps exclaim ‘it is now time to solve the mystery like detectives’ and involve them in the process by having them explain their thought process and offer encouragement and praise along the way. This will allow students to mimic the positive mental attitude to approaching challenging situations and instils confidence in them to be able to solve questions on their own.

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