I am participating in a twitter book study on Carol Dweck’s book Mindset. The first chat spurred some reflection and thinking on the idea of growth mindset. By the time the students arrive to my classroom (ninth grade), many of their mindsets are fixed and I must do something about it.
My students must learn to grow. Too many of them get to high school thinking things like “I’m not good at math” or “English is easy for me.” Both of these opinions must be changed for true growth to occur. A student who thinks they are not good at something will give up immediately, leaning on the crutch that they just aren’t able to improve. The other student assumes they will find success simply based on prior experience with the subject.
But how do we take the two extremes and teach them to grow? I believe this is a multifaceted process. It begins with me. I must maintain a growth mindset for myself and others and it must be obviously present in my classroom. The kids must see failure as an opportunity for learning, and I must model it. I need to open myself up to my students, swallow my pride and let them know that I fail, I get up, and I try again. I must share that I am always learning, changing, and growing with them and that learning never ends.
We as teachers must encourage growth at every level by giving meaningful feedback on student work, not necessarily grades. Too many students see a grade (letters or numbers) as an endpoint instead of an opportunity for learning. There is no ceiling, the possibilities are endless when we take a risk and try something new.
Moving students from a fixed to a growth mindset is not easy work, but it is essential. Young minds must be opened to the realm of possibilities before them. There is no time to rest on our laurels or hide behind our fears – believe in every kid, they are all amazing!