One of Mightifier Flipped-SEL core background theories, the Growth Mindset theory by Carol Dweck has a huge impact on the students’ learning process and its outcomes. Having a growth mindset is the key to success and that is why it is so important for learning.
What does it mean to have a Growth Mindset?
Having a growth mindset means you believe in yourself and especially in your ability to change, learn and develop. It is the opposite of a fixed mindset which means you think there is no capability to improve. People with a fixed mindset get devastated when facing big challenges as they think there is no way they will overcome them. These people give up easily. On the contrary people with a growth mindset get excited about challenges. They want to get better and believe they can improve with hard work and practice.
In the school world, it has been found that the way in which students with fixed vs growth mindset process errors is completely different. Students with Fixed Mindset are afraid to fail or make mistakes and therefore they get scared to even try. In the Growth Mindset, errors are seen as the natural part of learning and the students with a Growth Mindset, process their mistakes and correct them and that way they also learn from them.
In remote teaching situations, Growth Mindset becomes even more critical.
As students are spending more time on their own, they need to take more responsibility for their own learning. They need to be comfortable in taking risks and making mistakes even without the teacher’s constant advice and communication. In a lockdown situation, a student with a Fixed Mindset might easily get devastated by the new stressful situation and give up on their learning.
How can you promote the Growth Mindset in your class?
1.Explain Growth Mindset
The first step is to tell your students about the growth mindset and the huge impact it can have for learning and the difference between growth and fixed mindset. Children will be surprised by the amount of capability they have in themselves.
Once they understand what growth mindset means, the idea of learning as a process needs to be acknowledged. Making mistakes is part of the learning process and by processing and correcting errors, learning will happen. Becoming more gracious towards own errors will not only help the learning process at school but outside school as well. This has lifelong benefits for the students; they will not be scared to try again and again if something does not work out the first time. Persistence and working hard towards a goal is challenging but can be very rewarding at the end, and the idea that it is possible to develop and improve is the key to be able to keep on trying.
2. Praise for the process, not for the outcomes
Learning about growth-mindset is a great start but it’s only the first step. What you need to do is give the students praise and positive feedback constantly, not only when they succeed and learn something, but also when they try really hard and put effort on their learning.
In order to make the students understand that it is not all about the outcomes and grades, you need to start giving the praise already as they are on the learning path and going in the right direction. Especially when the students make errors you have a great opportunity to make them understand that errors and mistakes are needed in order to learn. Learning is a process and when you get your students to understand that with hard work, persistence and believing in you ability to improve, they will get where they want.
It may sound like a cliché but when you focus on something and really believe in it, you have the keys in your hands to be able to accomplish your goals. For teachers, one of the biggest accomplishments would be to be able to make the students believe in themselves and their ability to improve. For sure now if ever it is the time to start focusing on building a growth mindset in your class and teaching your students that they have all the capability to get where they want as long as they keep believing in their possibilities to get better and work hard towards their goals.