Teach your students to develop a growth mindset


“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” Maya Angelou

We all tell ourselves stories about who we believe ourselves to be and what we believe we are capable of achieving! The trouble with these stories is that we accept them to be true, even when they are not. We make decisions and choices based on what we think we deserve, so if our stories come from a fixed mindset, we are unlikely to achieve the successes that we dream of. If, however, the stories we tell ourselves are rooted in a growth mindset, we are going to be set-for-success.

Let’s take a closer look at what it means to have a growth mindset and how we can help our students develop this important life-tool.  

A growth mindset fashions a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for success. People with growth mindsets see failures and feedback as learning opportunities, and intelligence and skills as something that can grow and develop.  A fixed mindset, by contrast, creates limitations, a lack of resilience and a belief that failures show a lack of intelligence or ability.

People with growth mindsets:

  • Believe intelligence and talents can and should be developed
  • Believe effort is the path to mastery
  • Believe mistakes and failures are an essential part of learning and are temporary setbacks
  • Embrace challenges
  • Welcome feedback
  • See the success of others as inspirational

Here is how you can help your children develop a growth mindset:

  1.  Use the “So what, NOW what?” approach to tackling obstacles.  Mistakes and failures are always learning opportunities. It is the fear of making mistakes and experiencing negative consequences that creates limiting thought patterns in our students. Teach your students to own their mistakes without judgement toward themselves or others (So what?), and assist them in finding positive, workable solutions. (NOW what?)
  2. Help your students to understand that learning anything new can take time and may need lots of practice. Persistence and determination will ensure success.
  3. What mindset do YOU have? It is very important that you, as the teacher,  consistently model the characteristics of a growth mindset in your classroom.
  4. Have conversations about the power of self-talk. We believe the stories that we tell ourselves! Negative self-talk examples are:” I can’t do this! This is just too hard! I am not smart enough! I can only stick to what I know.” By contrast, growth mindset self-talk sounds like this: “What am I missing? I can ask for assistance. This may take some extra time to get right. I am capable!”

Triumph over struggle always makes us feel really good about ourselves. People with growth mindsets will seek to achieve success, despite challenges that threaten to derail their progress. Teach your students to develop growth mindsets and watch them flourish!