Growing up in the 80s, I think a fixed mindset was engraved in us. As I grew and experienced life, I developed a growth mindset in most areas. Even though we would like to believe we are open minded and embody a growth mindset, we really are a combination of both a fixed and growth mindset. It is only through growth and experience that we expand and develop and a growth mindset unfolds. But we never truly, always have a growth mindset, however. Realizing that, will help us in the ever changing and evolving fixed vs growth mindset we move back and forth between in our daily lives.
Why Having a Growth Mindset Is So Important
Learning to develop a growth mindset is an important skill that, when embraced, fosters an understanding that perseverance, learning and growing from experiences, along with motivation will help in reaching goals. Believing that failure is only a stepping stone and part of your learning process is what will help drive you to embrace the challenge and keep striving to get better.
Incorporating the 4 Steps to Change Your Mindset
Carol Dweck’s four steps to changing your mindset will guide you to changing the way you think when faced with challenges. Following these steps will motivate you in a positive direction and help to overcome the challenges and move you forward.
Step 1: Learn to hear your fixed mindset “voice”
When faced with challenges, recognize when you tell yourself, “I can’t do that”, “I’m not smart enough”, “that’s too hard”. Use that voice you hear, to change your mindset.
Step 2: Recognize that you have a choice
If you just listen to that fixed mindset, and you think that failure means you’re not good enough, or you will never be able to do something, then you will just give up. If you understand you have a choice, you’ll realize that failure or a setback is just your chance to regroup, develop and continue on a path to growth.
Step 3: Talk back to it with a growth mindset voice
When you hear that fixed mindset voice, and you know you have a choice, you can talk back to it, facing the challenge head on. Tell yourself, “I may not know how to do it right now, but if I put in the effort and I’m determined, I can learn and grow from it.”
Step 4: Take the growth mindset action
Once you follow steps 1-3, you can take action by facing those obstacles, making a plan of action, and then using what you learn from the outcomes to motivate yourself to grow (Dweck, 2006).
Helping Others Make the Shift
The biggest hurdle we must face when trying to shift our teachers to a growth mindset is them understanding its more about the process and growth, than the results. We must learn to celebrate the growth made and the effort put in. With significant learning environments and using a new way of planning for Professional Learning, celebrating growth and learning from mistakes is valuable. Allowing for small group learning, experimenting and growing will help teachers feel comfortable enough to make mistakes and reach out to their team and others for help. By providing enough time for them to explore and work with what they learn will give them a better chance at success and understanding. Building that extra time into the planning process also allows for them to receive feedback from their peers, experiment with various teaching methods and learn that the feedback they get only helps them reach their end goal. In planning for PL, one of the major components for success is giving the learner enough time to explore, process, discover and learn the information. Using the 3 Column table and UbD design templates allows me to break up the learning and make time for that, providing the opportunity to build grit, but also just the right amount of rigor to not feel overwhelmed or want to give up. Some factors to consider when trying to influence others to make the shift to a “Growth Mindset” is their age. For so long, we were taught it’s all about the grade and not about the growth. Going through your whole academic career basing your success on grades and not growth is something that will be hard to deprogram. I still have trouble with that idea at times.
Communicating the Power of “Yet” to OthersWhen I was in the fine arts classroom, I remember trying to always keep a positive attitude with my elementary students. This is vital, working with young minds, not wanting to lose them forever, thinking, I’ll never be able to do this or that, especially in the arts. I would often say, “We may not know this, YET, but we’ll get there. And, it will be difficult for some of us, but with practice and hard work, we can all do it.” As teachers, communicating the true power of “Yet” is so very important in everything we teach. Giving the students confidence in knowing they have the ability to reach a goal if they are resilient and can learn from setbacks, will motivate them. The word “Yet” gives them the understanding that reaching their goal is on it’s way, they just have some learning to do to get there. It also makes the obstacle in their path seem smaller, and the goal more attainable, which gets them to focus more. I will use “Yet” when introducing teachers to my ePortfolio innovation plan. By using “Yet” at the very beginning of my presentation, it automatically changes their thought process to a positive one, which will help drive the goals I want them to accomplish. “Yet” is truly a powerful word that introduces the challenge, but offers hope in knowing we CAN surpass that challenge. Being consistent in my innovation presentations to the leadership team and then teachers that will pilot the innovation plan using “Yet”, I believe, will empower them to want to make positive changes, and inspire innovation in their own classrooms. I also think it will lead to them using it more in their classrooms as well, having a domino effect and helping us develop growth mindsets in our students while building everyone’s confidence with our integration of ePortfolios.
Resources to Promote A Growth Mindset
I will use the YouTube video: Developing a Growth Mindset with Carol Dweck (Stanford University, 2014). Who better to explain and promote growth mindsets, than the person that developed this theory. I want to use this video during one of our professional development sessions, without any introduction, and then afterwards, have an open conversation. I will also create simple posters for them to display in their classrooms, with a fixed mindset graphic on one side and growth mindset on the other, with a listing of their traits under each. Having this up will be a constant reminder, not only to them but to their students as well. When I was a fine arts teacher, we had a set of affirmations that we recited daily, and I will share these with all teachers as well in poster form. The affirmations were: 1. I Don’t Have to Be Perfect To Be Amazing. 2. I Will Never Say, “I Can’t”, I Will Always Say, “I’ll Try”. 3. My Attitude Determines My Direction. 4. Every Mistake I Make is Progress 5. I Am Somebody Amazing! These affirmations have been life changing for our students. It is a constant daily reminder for them, they use them daily, recite them, talk about them. And, to keep promoting a growth mindset, I will include quotes that embody this, at the end of every monthly meeting agenda. Consistency will be key to driving success not only for the ePortfolio integration, but developing everyone’s growth mindset as well.
Growth Mindset Impacting My Educational Growth
Expanding my growth mindset, and learning to lean further toward it and less on a fixed mindset has helped me immensely in this graduate program. When I started, I had only just begun in my new role as the district fine arts coordinator, and the director of a special needs theatrical production after school. During my first introduction to the courses, I was thinking, “what did I get myself into, I can’t do this.” But, I remembered my “Why” and then started learning more about the growth mindset and it’s helping me understand it’s all about growth and moving forward through challenges and obstacles. I am excited to continue to share what I learn about growth mindsets with those that I work with and come in contact with. It really is a game changer, especially for the students in our district, almost all from low income households, little to no arts exposure, and very little support from home.
Is A Growth Mindset Enough?
I believe, if conveyed correctly and with follow through, plenty of support and strategies for growth, a Growth Mindset is enough and help all involved develop a Learner’s Mindset. As things have drastically changed in Education within the last few years, especially after the Pandemic, we as teachers need to move into having a Growth Mindset so that we can teach our students the concept as well. Creating more opportunities for learners to experience how having a Growth Mindset works, will build an understanding and change what has been engraved in us for so long. Every mistake, every challenge, hurdle, goal reached, fail forward IS growth, and IS a step closer to success. I’ve seen it first hand with my students and the affirmations we recited daily. It made a difference, gave them confidence, and they understood that the little steps they may make are still getting them closer to their goals.
Dweck, C. (2016). Mindset: the new psychology of success. Random House.
Stanford Alumni. (2014. October 9). Developing a growth mindset with Carol Dweck. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiiEeMN7vbQ