Growth Mindset

Growth, what?

Growth Mindset–a term to describe an understanding that intelligence can be developed, just like any muscle in the human body. People with a growth mindset believe their abilities can be developed through hard work and persistence, even if they weren’t born with a given “talent” to do something. In contrast, students (and adults!) who consider themselves as “good” at some things and not at others, such as “not good at math” or “not artistic”, usually think they are born with a given intelligence and set of talents. We call this a “fixed mindset”.










Growth Mindset in the Classroom

Ok, so this “Growth Mindset” stuff sounds good and all, but how does it work in the classroom? As a teacher, nothing is more disheartening than to hear a child say “I can’t” or “it’s too hard”. I strive to reach each child at their individual level and believe that they can achieve, even when they don’t. The goal for explicitly teaching growth mindset is to help students learn that there are strategies for achieving even the hardest of goals when we approach our challenges with grit and resiliency. Consider Austin’s story…


What can I do at home?

For Growth Mindset to be most effective, parents and teachers need to work together. You might be wondering, though, “What can I do? How can I help my student develop a growth mindset?” Showing value in growth and improvement at home is key. For example, if a student goes from scoring a 55% on an assessment to scoring a 68%, we have two choices. We can either look at the 68% as an unimpressive “D+” or we can celebrate it as a big increase in a skill or concept. Now, understand, I’m not suggesting you throw a party over a D+, but rather that you recognize where your student started and his or her improvement over time.

Here are some other tips for helping promote a growth mindset at home:

  • Encourage your child to take risks and tackles new challenges at school.
  • Praise your child not for the ease with which he or she learns a concept but for the amount of effort put into learning it.
  • Communicate with school if problems arise.
  • Emphasize perseverance and effort in extracurricular activities. For example, “I’m proud of how much effort you put into that basketball game.” instead of “I’m proud of how many points you scored in the game.”

There’s also a great tutorial designed for parents on Growth Mindset that is well worth the 30 minutes it takes to complete it. Find it here: Growth Mindset for Parents


Related Links:
Do You Know This Guy? (I’m sure you do!)
How Not to Talk to Your Kids (New York Magazine Cover Story)
What Every (Great) Parent Should Know About the Mindset of Success
Why Praise Can be Bad for Kids (Good Morning America)