Teaching Growth Mindset Can Change Kids Lives

Growth Mindset can change lives

This story is a wonderful example of the impact we can make on our students if we teach growth mindset explicitly.

Our school is currently undertaking professional development in John Hattie’s Visible Learning. One of the most important things that stood out for me personally was that our students need to learn how to learn. Up until now, our focus has always been on teaching the students to ‘be a good student’ as opposed to ‘being a good learner’. Immediately, I knew that we could improve the way our students learned by explicitly teaching them how to have a growth mindset and teaching them how their brains learn.

We have undertaken many weeks of research on the best practice of growth mindset from around the world and have created a 3 week ‘Quality Beginnings’ plan for the beginning of the school year that would involve setting up our classrooms on the right foot, teaching the students classroom routines, and for the first time, learning about having a growth mindset. All students from Prep through to Grade 6 participated in this program. We also had groups of children create their own skits to perform to the school at assemblies that featured growth mindset issues.

We found many resources that were readily available on the internet, including YouTube that would engage the students. Carol Dweck’s study also gave us a deeper understanding of why promoting growth mindset is important.
I now find that before I open my mouth to speak to my students I wonder if I am using growth mindset language and if not, I correct myself. No, it’s not easy but I am seeing dramatic changes in the willingness to try and work hard at things, compared to previous years. I love hearing my students say “I can’t do this yet” or “If I practice this, I will get good at this!”.

The story below was exciting because even though we had focused on growth mindset for only a short time, it engaged our students immediately and has made an impact. Our school can now continue to build on this solid foundation throughout the year.

For the last 3 weeks, the school that I teach at has made a huge effort to begin the 2015 year with a push for our students to understand the power a growth mindset can have on their learning. We have been focusing on teaching our students, from Prep through to Grade 6, the difference between a Growth Vs a Fixed Mindset, learning how the brain learns, how we learn from mistakes and so on. This is the first year our school has made ‘Learning how to Learn’ a priority for our students.

Yesterday, a mum of one of our students went out of her way to talk to me about her son. She excitedly told me “Since you have been working on growth mindset at school, growth mindset has changed my son’s life!”. This boy, who has always worried about making mistakes and failing in front of others….being perfect. He went home and handed his dad an iPad and said “You have to learn about this dad!”.

This boy is a very talented skateboarder and his interest in his sport had lagged recently. He was worried about what other skaters might think of him and had become too scared to try new tricks in case others saw him fail. NOW, in just a couple of weeks, he is out there, practicing, making mistakes, practicing, making mistakes and learning tricks that have been blocking him for a while now. Wow! His favourite new word is “YET”. He happily tells anyone that word now if he hears them say they can’t do something.

THIS is the power that a growth mindset has on our kids. It is not something that comes to everyone naturally, it needs to be explicitly taught and made a priority in schools. It can change your students’ lives!

To top it off, after reigniting his passion in skateboarding, this young fella came second at a skating comp on the weekend. Awesome! He wouldn’t even go to parks to practice until gaining his growth mindset a couple of weeks ago.

Reflect Growth Profile

Jess Ottewell

Tammie currently teaches in country Victoria. You can connect with her on Reflect Growth using her tag @tambo2202 and on Twitter as AusMinds.  Tammie also runs the Aus Minds Facebook page and website. She’s clearly someone to go to if you’re looking for resources and information on the Growth Mindset 🙂 She’s always up for making connections.

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Growth Mindset can change livesCute Baby Eyes by HD Wallpapers added on 4th July 2009, modified by Tammie Meehan on 5th March 2015.


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