Teaching growth mindset in the classroom can positively impact students' self-esteem and academic success. Arguably, a student’s mindset is the most difficult challenge a teacher faces. Yes, teaching academic subjects is a LOT of work, but whether or not a student believes in their ability to learn is really the key to it all.🔑🧠💥
It all comes down to growth vs fixed mindset. A student with a growth mindset believes that they can gain new skills by working hard and studying. A student with a fixed mindset believes that abilities are something they’re born with and there is no way to change this.
The difference between these two mindsets plays a huge part in how students react to failure and challenges. Growth mindset views failure as an opportunity for learning more and doing better.
Students with growth mindsets also set goals for themselves differently than others with fixed mindsets. They’re more likely to set higher goals because they think they can be successful at something new or hard.
As educators, it is very important to recognize that mindsets can change, and oftentimes WE are the ones who can foster this change within our students! Really, this is such a huge gift we’ve been given.🤩
Figuring out how to teach a growth mindset in the classroom takes intentionality, but it doesn’t have to be hard!
Strategies to Foster a Growth Mindset in the Classroom
Here are a few of my favorite strategies to teach and use with students:
- Normalize challenges and failures. Everyone fails and experiences hardships. When facing difficulties or failing, this is a great time to tweak goals and try again.
- Set attainable goals. This helps students recognize that there is potential for growth in their skills. They will be encouraged as they recognize they are achieving goals.
- Model a good attitude. Students copy what they see. When they see you reacting to hard situations with a positive attitude, they are likely to do so as well.
- Give constructive criticism. Constructive criticism allows students to know what action steps they can take the next time they encounter a similar, challenging situation.
- Provide group learning opportunities. Working together allows students to see the need for asking for help and finding answers to obstacles.
- Praise the process, not the skills. Provide specific encouragement about the steps the student takes to achieve a goal vs the skill attained by meeting the goal. For example, “Wow! You did a great job working through all of your math activity.” instead of “You’re so smart. You made a 100 on your spelling test!”.
Resources for Teaching Growth Mindset in the Classroom
I love using pre-made resources to help teach growth mindset skills in the classroom. Check out these two I’ve made to help you promote a growth mindset with your students:
In my Social Emotional Learning: Self Management Curriculum, your students will meet Darren the Self-Management Superhero.🦸🏻♂️
Darren helps students learn impulse control, stress management, self-discipline, self-motivation, goal setting, and organizational skills. With this resource, you will have access to print or digital options for 12 activities. This resource is great for older elementary students.
This Capability Crayons self-esteem activity focuses on increasing self-esteem in students in small or large group settings.
The goal is for students to identify positive things about themselves that they can do instead of focusing on what they can not do. This resource can be used in-person or digitally and is most often enjoyed by younger elementary students.
Books for teaching Growth Mindset in the Classroom
Read-alouds are a wonderful way to incorporate teaching growth mindset in the classroom. These are a few books I love to bring out when I’m discussing learning mindsets. Check out this blog post with recommendations and reviews about Children’s books that teach Growth Mindset.
Here are a few highlights of my favorites:
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Madeleine is a little girl who has lots of negative thoughts. Throughout this story, Madeline’s mom guides her as she has the opportunity to choose between her “good voice” or “bad voice”. She eventually learns to regain power over her mind and establish positive self-talk.
In this story, Diane Alber uses a little spot to teach children how to turn their sadness and frowns into happiness and smiles. Growth mindset is modeled through the story as the little spot walks through realistic situations like making bad grades or falling off of a bike. The little spot shows children strategies to use when negative thoughts creep into their minds so that they can grow and become confident in themselves.
I Can't Do that, YET by Esther P Cordova
Enna and her father sit down to read a book, her father asks her to read the first page and she says she can’t do it. Enna then has a dream and she is visited by her future self. Her future self is a computer programmer and Enna can hardly believe it because she can’t do any programming now, but her future self tells her “You can’t do that YET.” She then meets other potential future selves, and realizes that all she needs to be able to read that book is a little time to get it right. The concept of teaching kids “you can’t do something…yet” is very important to learn to persevere and not give up.
Kids get so many messages about how they should be, it can be overwhelming. When this happens, it’s important to listen to that quiet voice inside and use it as a guide. Some of the voices the book goes through are: I can do hard things, I can be a friend to myself, I can ask for help, I can feel all my feelings, I can believe in myself, I can try again, I can understand different points of view, I can practice peace, and more. It reiterates “I’m ready for the hard things I have to do, and please remember, so are you!”
Videos about Growth Mindset
Growth Mindset for Students by ClassDojo
Finally, use this Social Emotional Learning: Self Management Curriculum that includes everything you need for teaching growth mindset in your classroom.
Looking for more ideas on teaching growth mindset in the classroom? Check out this blog post on Children's books about Growth Mindset.
More resources about teaching growth mindset in the classroom:
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