Growth Mindset: Making an Impact on Literacy Instruction


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.



6 thoughts on “Growth Mindset: Making an Impact on Literacy Instruction

  1. kccogswell October 26, 2016 / 6:44 pm

    I love all of the resources that you have linked to this article. I have been using bits and pieces of the growth mindset philosophy for a while without knowing what it was called. This year, our school is making a HUGE push to have growth mindset be taught in every class.
    Today, my students got to sit through a lesson on growth mindset with their second grade classmates. It was so well done, and differentiated that I believe they fully understood. I am waiting to see how much of the language they bring back to my room independently.
    I will definitely look into these resources and actively use more of them in my room.

    Thanks again, for posting these!


    • cheriedh October 27, 2016 / 12:49 am

      Glad you enjoyed the resources and hope they will be beneficial to you as your school works to have a Growth Mindset in every classroom.


  2. jackieb38 October 26, 2016 / 9:07 pm

    You are awesome for collecting these resources for new teachers!! It has made a difference in how our communication is in my classroom and hope it can benefit others. Something I really am glad that you added to the conversation that I also just blogged about is how teachers can have a fixed mindset about students as well. Especially in a special education position, it may be hard to shake this. I’m sure that they will see that their mindset can change as well as they teach this philosophy.


    • cheriedh October 27, 2016 / 12:52 am

      I see teachers who think about some students and learning with a fixed mindset as well. It is really heartbreaking when I see students who have a fixed mindset about their own learning. I love the phrase, “I can’t do it….yet”.


  3. ckllit17 October 27, 2016 / 1:01 am

    Thank you for putting together all of these resources. My school started the growth mindset 2 years ago. At the beginning of the year, we read Your Fantastic Elastic Brain Stretch It, Shape It ( and discuss how the brain changes as you learn. We then use a hand motion to show a brain with a growth mindset (cupping your hands and making a ball, back and forth) and then a fixed mindset (just cupping your hands). This visual really helps the students and we continuously use it throughout the year to show how our brains are growing. We also discuss growth mindset phrases that we can use in the classroom. One phrase that is automatically stopped is “This is easy!!!”. We have a word graveyard (most times under the board) for words that are the fixed mindset. The students love the visuals and even have to correct the teacher to remember to have a growth mindset. Good luck and have fun with the growth mindset this year!


  4. ateach17 October 27, 2016 / 1:39 am

    What wonderful resources! Thank you for sharing. Growth mindset is so important for students, yet many of them have not been encouraged or trained in this mindset. When students walk into my classroom, I often see fixed mindsets. After the first semester, I begin seeing my students say things like, “I can’t do this now, but soon I’ll be able too!” and “Math facts are not my brain strength, so I need to practice them a little more.” It’s amazing how modeling these phrases as teachers impacts our students.


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