This week I put together a list of several positive resources I use in my teaching. One of those resources was entitled “Growth Mindset – Notes of Encouragement”. The notes of encouragement were created for teachers to give to students and promote a growth mindset in the classroom. A couple of examples of the notes were, “Your positive attitude is encouraging” or “Keep working hard. You can do it”. The notes are only one example of the many resources and books available for implementing “Growth Mindset” in the classroom.
Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, wrote the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In her book, she discusses “Growth Mindset” verses “Fixed Mindset”. A growth mindset is about putting forth extra effort, trying new strategies and asking for help when you need it. A fixed mindset is believing that you are either good at something or you’re not. You are smart or you’re not. Students with a fixed mindset don’t believe that by putting forth extra effort, they can improve their skills and/or grades. Dweck says we are all a mixture of “Growth Mindsets” and “Fixed Mindsets” and it is important for us to understand how and when to work on our ”Fixed Mindsets”.
As a professional learning specialist, I teach teachers. One group of teachers I work is made up of first year, special education teachers. They all teach literacy to students with disabilities. We have five sessions together during their first few months of teaching. This week, during our time together, I implemented a learning design (activity) on “Growth Mindset”.
First, we watched a ten-minute TedX Talk by Eduardo Briceno called “The Power of Belief – Mindset and Success”. Briceno does an excellent job of communicating the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset to his audience. He makes a great point reminding parents and teachers to praise effort rather than praising talent. One of my favorite parts of this TEDX Talk is when Briceno finishes with “If you hear I can’t do it, add… yet!” What an invaluable strategy to give to children.
After we watched the video, I had teachers work in groups to discuss the implications of a growth mindset on improved reading instruction in their classrooms. Then they had to come up with examples, strategies or ideas they could implement in their classrooms to promote a growth mindset and help students who are struggling with reading. I gave them examples from the “Notes of Encouragement” to help them begin their discussion. After a short time, each group shared their ideas and strategies for a growth mindset with the larger group. One teacher talked about her school staff reading the book Mindsets in the Classroom by Mary Cay Ricci. All of the teachers in her school were implementing ideas from this book. We completed the activity by discussing the importance of a growth mindset in our beliefs about children and how they learn. It is foundational in becoming an effective teacher.
There are so many great Resources for Teaching Growth Mindset. Several are listed here in an article from Edutopia. There are books, articles, posters, charts and notes teachers can use to promote a growth mindset in their classrooms. If teachers realized the power of implementing a growth mindset in their classrooms, they would continually encourage students to put forth extra effort and praise for effort. Once students put extra effort into their reading, their motivation to read and reading skills should increase. For students with disabilities and students struggling to read, a growth mindset might just be a key to success.