How teaching growth mindset leads to student success


Thomas A. Edison said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Success does not happen overnight but requires continuous perseverance and an attitude of never giving up. To succeed you need a mindset that is optimistic and strong-willed. The success rate of those who try more is always higher unless in exceptional cases.

What is the growth mindset

The behavior of individuals can be either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset about anything. The mindset of students that describe the belief of students about their learning and level of intelligence can affect the students’ achievements. Individuals who have growth mindsets are described as those who believe that they can improve their talent through hard work, adopting better learning strategies, and open to criticism. These individuals usually do better than the ones who have a fixed mindset.

Fixed mindset individuals believe that their talents are inborn gifts and need no development. Growth mindset individuals focus more on learning than producing or giving outputs. When an organization adopts this concept of the growth mindset, it gives its individuals empowerment and the entire institution improves. Adopting a growth mindset in schools can create a conducive environment for better learning.

Developing a growth mindset

No one is born with a growth mindset, and some people are able to foster a growth mindset while some do not. However, a growth mindset can be developed. An important way to develop a growth mindset is by accepting and embracing imperfections. It is only when we recognize our weaknesses that we can explore our strengths. Viewing challenges as new opportunities are one of the principal values of the growth mindset. A growth mindset paves the way for self–improvement.

To develop a growth mindset, you must try various strategies and choose the one that suits you best. Understanding and believing that intelligence can be improved with hard work and effort is another important point to note. The growth mindset is all about failing and learning from those mistakes. If you have not tried and failed, you still have not learned. There is no need to seek approval when you are learning; this only hampers your way of learning. The process of reaching the outcome is more important than the end result. What you have learned during the process is more important.

The growth mindset is about having a sense of purpose, students and teachers who follow a growth mindset have a greater sense of purpose. To truly appreciate the growth you need to rejoice in other’s growth as well. A growth mindset values growth over speed, learning something well is not as same as learning it fast. Teachers should encourage the progress and effort and not the traits of the students.

In the growth mindset, there is room for improvement, which means failures are treated as learning tools and not actual failures. Individuals should be allowed to reflect and effort should always be ahead of traits. A very important aspect of the growth mindset is to make new goals for every goal you have accomplished. Your learning process is, therefore, a continuous one.

Growth mindset and fixed mindset

Mindset is our perceptions of our abilities and talents. They can be of two types of growth mindset and a fixed mindset.

Fixed mindset –

In a fixed mindset, people believe that their qualities are fixed traits and cannot be changed. They do not believe that they can develop and improve their abilities like intelligence, talents, etc. These people think they were born with a certain fixed level of intelligence and it is all they have, which cannot be modified. They always want to appear smart as they think they are born with it. They fear that they may appear to be dumb and they cannot take the risk of being labeled as unintelligent.

Such people think success requires the only talent and not hard work. They do not work or give the effort to develop their abilities. In this case, failure brings misery and doubt to him or her. It demeans the image he or she had and crushes their confidence. A person with a fixed mindset is often anxious and always wary of criticism and failures.

Growth mindset –

In the growth mindset, people believe that their learning and intelligence can be developed with time and effort. They believe that with the hard work they can become smarter and recognize the effect of their effort on their achievement. They work towards always learning and improving their ability. They do realize that different people have different levels of IQs, but they believe that with hard work it can be improved.

In this case, failures do not put him or her down. It acts as a boost for their performance and gives an encouragement to explore and stretch oneself. Criticism and setbacks do not bother a growth mindset person but encourage to do even better.

Growth mindset for students

Students with a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be developed. They focus on learning rather than acting or looking smart. Students who have a growth mindset take up challenges as a natural process of improving at something.

When these types of students face any new obstacle or problem, they improvise their strategies, give more effort, and try various methods to come to solutions. In this process, they end up learning a lot and in the true sense learn. They view the effort as the key to success and do very well when faced with a challenge. Such students often perform better at school. These students take up new tasks as a challenge as an essential part of learning does not mean they keep on working blindly. They seek a way to nurture their abilities. They know when they require help and simultaneously look for alternative methodologies to approach the situation.

Students who have a growth mindset can ask teachers to solve a particular problem in more than one way. They can also take up a question even when they are unsure themselves; this is because they do not fear to be wrong. In fact, making a mistake is like a new learning experience for them. Students can also ask even the most basic question without the fear of being judged as stupid or someone not intelligent. Growth mindset students ask for problems that will push them from their comfort zone. They do not want to confide in their safety net.

Growth mindset for teachers

Teachers who have growth mindset tell students they can improve and praise their efforts. Teachers who follow this mindset do not set the students' goals as perfect ones but instead ask them to aim for a high level. Such teachers also react well to the failures of the students and not discourage them from it.

Since they encourage the effort and are supportive of the students, they do not have any fear of failure. They do not shame or embarrass students for their mistakes or failures. Teachers with a growth mindset offer practical strategies when students suffer setbacks to overcome them. They would never label anyone because they are aware that it may damage students immensely. Rather than just focusing on one strategy, they offer other strategies and accept new strategies from students that lead to the correct solution to the problem.

Growth mindset teachers often set and publicly shares their teaching goals. They work on to give feedback to every student. As mentioned earlier, they are ready to accept and ask for better strategies from students. They try not to use language that may imply fixed mindset. For example, “I was never great at solving numerically.” Teachers often share their experience and accept their mistakes, which encourages students to take the leap and not be afraid of mistakes.

Growth mindset for schools

To develop a growth mindset for a school, all the facts concerning the school have to be put across. For any school, the students, teachers, and parents are an essential part when concerned with mindset. In order to develop a growth mindset in school, all the three crucial components have to be fostered with the idea.

Apart from these main participants in developing the growth mindset, other staff, administrative section, catering and anyone else in the school also needs to improve the growth mindset if a school truly wants to adopt this concept. The aim of the environment is to build a growth mindset for young people at school and avoid the fixed mindset that stops them from reaching their highest potential.

As a growth mindset, the school can change the assessment system that encourages a growth mindset approach. The progress of students from the starting point will be assessed as opposed to their targets. The students will not be given fixed targets to fulfill but only be required to make good progress. New ways to track the growth of the students need to be developed.

Growth mindset lesson plans

Lesson plans are essential in teaching a class. A growth mindset lesson plan has to thus comply with all the characteristics the mindset vouches for. The lesson plans should focus on the mastery of learning rather than mastery of skills. It should emphasize the processes rather than the products of learning. The lesson plan should give opportunities to learn and build upon previous learning. It should be made in such a way that it encourages multiple solution finding techniques.

Teachers should encourage questions to be asked even if they are of the most basic kind. The lesson plan should incorporate assessment of students on their effort more than the correct solution. Students should be given problems a little higher than their ability to challenge and foster learning in them.

The lesson plan for a growth mindset should have the following key factors:

• It should be focused on the value of learning and what can be gained from it

• Give the meaningful task to children according to their interest and the environment

• Adopt an encouraging language and encourage students by applauding their efforts.

• Give students realistic as well a little challenging task. Give more recognition and emphasis on the processor approach towards the solution rather than the outcome.

Growth mindset activities for teachers

To promote the growth mindset among the students' teachers can adopt various measures to help students develop the same. Some of the growth mindset activities for teachers to carry out in are as follows:

• Praising correctly – Praising is a great way to encourage students. The students need to be raised correctly. Better than praising would be affirming actions.

• Recognize students that show learning and effort. Smart students do not represent the growth mindset approach.

• Affirm students that they have mastered a skill rather than judging their ability. Encourage them to learn and grow more.

Growth mindset activities for schools

For growth mindset activities for schools, the following can be said:

• Organize workshops –

Organizing a workshop to involve all the teachers, staff, students and other workers of the school to understand better about the growth mindset.

• Use bulletin boards and posters –

Creating colorful, bright, and catchy posters to tell everyone about the benefits of a growth mindset can help promote it in school. This is a nice way to get messages through almost everyone in the school.

• Conduct plays and skits –

Small skits may be performed by a few students during the assembly to spread the concept of the growth mindset.

Growth mindset activities for students

To foster a growth mindset the following activities can be done for students:

• Tracking progress –

Track a student’s progress from the beginning rather than the target they have achieved. Do not focus on the endpoint, they have reached, but on the amount of progress, they have made.

• Grades related to learning –

Grades should be given based on progress and learning rather than a test that does not fully judge a person’s potential.

• Impact of effort on progress –

Reflect on how the effort and hard work of the student influenced the progress

• Celebrate the success of learning goals –

Encourage students to celebrate the success of learning goals. This inspires students to dedicate their effort to pure learning and not the outcomes.

• Celebrate the progress of learning goals –

As the celebration of success in learning goals, it is important to encourage progress. To do so, students should be encouraged to celebrate their progress on learning goals.

A growth mindset is a new and emerging strategy which many schools are adopting all over the world. It promotes true learning, appreciation hard work, and effort. It encourages students to learn and shatters traditional ideas of IQ. With effort and time, students are able to increase their ability and learn much more. Overall, the approach of growth mindsets encourages progressive learning and recognizes the effort and hard work.

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