It’s all the rage in education. As it should be.
Growth mindset almost completely changes the way we think and feel about learning.
If you don’t know, growth mindset is a way of thinking that encourages learning, social-emotional wellbeing, and self-esteem. Growth mindset is a way of thinking in which you believe that there are no limits- you can do anything you put your mind to. It is the belief that your abilities and intelligence are things that can grow and improve with effort.
For example, instead of saying “I can’t do this” or “I don’t know this”, you would say “Why am I struggling? What barriers are blocking me from getting this?”. You would then work through those barriers until your goal has been achieved.
She turned her can’ts into cans…
This is the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset.
**These terms were coined by Dr. Carol Dweck. Read more here.
A fixed mindset is one that believes that you are born with your level of ability and intelligence. In other words, you believe that there is nothing you can do to help yourself learn new things.
A growth mindset is one that believes that your abilities and intelligence can change and develop with effort and encouragement.
A growth mindset encourages a love of learning that leads to embracing challenges and persisting through setbacks/failures, learning through criticism, and finding inspiration in others. Growth mindset leads to higher achievement rates and a greater sense on control over learning and abilities.
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So, how can we encourage growth mindset?
Yes, you read that right. Encourage failure.
Failure sucks. Nobody likes it. Nobody likes the feeling and scrutiny of failing.
But failing is important. It is a part of life and we have to teach our students that failure is okay. Why? Because it teaches us new things, gives us the motivation to keep going, and helps us to welcome new challenges rather than be afraid of them. Rather than see failure as defeat, look at it as an opportunity to grow.
Try New Things/Take Risks
Growth mindset isn’t just about effort. Perseverance is a wonderful trait to have but sometimes it is not enough. Sometimes you have to try something new or take a risk to make something happen.
Learning is messy. Trying new strategies, taking risks, and getting feedback from others will help us to learn new ways of thinking and achieving goals.
Change the Language
When someone says “I can’t do this” or “I quit”, change their language. Changing the language will change the way they think about the problem. Encourage thoughts such as “I am struggling with this problem right now. Perhaps I can come back to it later on once I have learned my mind”, “What can I do to make this problem easier for me?”, “I won’t give up!” or “I can’t do this YET”.
The problem is not the problem. Your attitude about the problem is the problem.
Love the Process
Learning is a process. Show others that mistakes and failures are part of that process, and that it is okay. Every tiny bit of learning is progress, no matter how long it takes to get there. Learning isn’t a race and we must encourage ourselves and others to love the PROCESS of learning as much as we love the OUTCOME of learning.
Pro-tip: Use a pen to document things, never a pencil. When we use pencils, we can erase the mistakes, thereby erasing the process. Use a pen to help you keep track of the process so you can look back and be proud of the progress you have made.
Yoga & Mindfulness
To practice yoga and mindfulness and reap the benefits, you must have an open mind. You have to be open to learning new techniques for coming into yoga poses, open to trying new breathing techniques to relieve stress.
Practicing mindfulness helps us to build a growth mindset as it helps us to realize our thoughts and feelings that lead to actions. For example, being able to realize thoughts and feelings will help you to identify barriers in learning, leading to a new action (technique or strategy) that will help you reach your goal.
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. – Dr. Seuss
Practicing yoga poses also helps to build growth mindset. Some poses, such as arm balances and headstands, are difficult. In order to master these poses, we must first believe that we can do them, make attempts and keep practicing, trying new strategies each time until we find what works for us.
What is stopping you from achieving that crow pose? Fear of falling? Fear of not getting it right on the first try? Fear of embarrassment? Whatever the reason, yoga poses require a trust in our bodies. And in our minds. Push past those feelings of inadequacy and believe you can.
Whatever we think, we believe. Growth mindset helps us to believe in the very best of our abilities, encouraging us to grow as learners and individuals. Growth mindset helps us to recognize and understand that nothing is impossible.