Igniting Critical and Creative Thinking

5 Ways to Promote a Growth Mindset in Your Classroom

A growth mindset is an integral part of many classrooms. It’s crucial for teachers to understand it and know how to promote it. A growth mindset focuses on helping students think in new and positive ways. They will understand the importance of delivering their best efforts. Students will learn new ways of thinking, and how to persevere through difficult situations. Here are 5 ways you can promote a growth mindset in your classroom.

1. Help Students Transform a Fixed Mindset Into a Growth Mindset.

A fixed mindset ties children down to one way of thinking. Students with a fixed mindset may think that they are not capable of growing, or that they will never get better at something. Struggle becomes a learning roadblock. A growth mindset, on the other hand, promotes thinking in new ways. Students who think with a growth mindset believe they can always try again, improve, and learn from their mistakes. Here are some examples of the differences between the two ways of thinking.

Fixed Mindset StatementsGrowth Mindset Statements
I don’t know how to do this.I can learn how to do this.
I cannot do this!I cannot do this yet.
There is nothing I can do to make this better.What can I add to make this even better?
My plan didn’t work.How can I change my plan?
I give up.I’ll try a different way!
I am afraid I will make a mistake.Mistakes will help me learn and get better.
This is too easy for me.How can I challenge myself and improve?

If you notice your students using a fixed mindset, encourage them with a positive statement. Remind them that no one is perfect, that we can all learn from our mistakes, and that there are multiple ways to solve problems.

2. Use Literature That Shows How to Overcome Problems.

There are so many books that you can read about growth mindset. Look for books that show how the characters solved a problem. Let students research people who overcame obstacles and did something amazing.

Salt in His Shoes, by Deloris and Roslyn Jordan, is the true story of Michael Jordan. He almost gave up on his dream of playing professional basketball because he thought he would never grow tall enough. His parents taught him that hard work and determination could change everything.

Whistle for Willie, by Ezra Jack Keats, tells the story of a boy who could not whistle. He tried so many different things, but nothing seemed to work. He tries and tries until finally his efforts are rewarded!

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, by Jen Bryant, tells the story of a talented artist who was tragically injured in a war. Through huge determination and a lot of patience, he slowly regains some control over his arm. Although his abilities weren’t the same as before, he becomes a famous artist.

Emmanuel’s Dream, by Laurie Ann Thompson, is a true story of Emmanuel Yeboah. Born in 1977 with a deformed leg, he fought to overcome this challenge. In 2001, he rode 400 miles across Ghana to help others in his country.

Interested in more books with a growth mindset theme? This site has a list of books perfect for teaching a growth mindset. There are books for children and teachers, categorized by age group.

3. Teach the Power of Yet.

Students need to know that many tasks in life require a lot of effort and perseverance. A good way to teach this is through the power of yet.

Let students keep working on difficult concepts until they get them. Let students retake quizzes or redo assignments.

Our purpose as teachers is to teach until students master a concept. Help students pinpoint what they don’t understand and give them the strategies to help them. Remind them over and over again that they may not understand it yet, but they will.

When you hear a student say they can’t do something, immediately remind them they can’t do it yet, but eventually, they will be able to.

Teaching the power of yet tells students that they can learn and that giving up isn’t an option.

Use this phrase often enough, and you will hear your students start doing it on their own.

4. Conference With Students About Their Goals and Progress.

Let your students set goals about what they want to learn. Students may want to learn their multiplication facts, read faster, or make higher test grades. Take time to meet with each student to ask them how they want to improve.

Make time to meet with all students a few times a month. This can be an informal chat or you can make charts for students to show their growth. Students need to see how much they have learned and the progress towards their goals.

If students aren’t making growth, talk to them about what they can do to change this. Focus on what worked and how to keep moving forward. It’s also ok for students to change their goals if needed.

Meeting with students individually lets them know they are important. Supporting their learning helps them grow academically and personally.

5. Provide Challenging Activities.

Provide activities to challenge your students. These can be logic puzzles, critical thinking activities, or choice boards.

If you have the physical space in your classroom to support it, you can create a makerspace, STEM center, or exploration station. This can be as simple as having coloring pages for students or Sudoku puzzles for them to complete.

Students love manipulatives, so let students use them! Place some pattern blocks in a center and challenge students to create an animal, a symmetrical art piece, or a creation of their own.

Give students pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks and challenge them to construct a structure that would hold up to 5 pounds.

If you aren’t sure what your students would like, ask them! Giving students choice is always a positive thing to do!

These activities expose students to new ways of thinking. Students may try something new and discover they are really good at it! This is exactly what a growth mindset is about!

Save it for Later

Be sure to pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board, so you’ll be able to get back to integrating habits of mind with a growth mindset!

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hey y'all

I'm Susan!

I’m Susan Morrow and I help overwhelmed teachers create thinking classrooms where students discover the joy in learning and achieving.

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