When hearing about growth mindset for the first time, many people say,
“Great! But where do I start? What can I do?”
Take the first step Spend the next week or two paying closer attention to your language and the language of those around you.
Paying attention to our language can provide us with insights about the subtle (and not so subtle) messages our students and our children receive about what their learning goals should be, if mistakes are encouraged, if there is a focus on learning and growth over performance, and how they should respond to challenges.
Some questions to get you started
- What do you say when your child/student tells you they aren’t good at _____?
- What do teachers say about their students who are behind?
- What do you say when your child/student has done well on a test?
- What does your child/student say when they have made a mistake?
As you ponder these questions, answer them honestly, so that you may identify areas for improvement or change. There’s always room for improvement in all we do, but no one says that you haven’t or aren’t doing your personal best. Encourage children to do their very best and recognize and acknowledge it when you see it. Praise the process and the steps taken towards success. Help them identify small victories along the way, and understand that they are growing and learning even if they don’t get something right on the very first try.
No matter the task, encourage them to persevere and help them remain motivated to press on forward, even through the tough spots. Your words are crucial and can influence their motivation and their self esteem.
Sticks and stones……..does not apply to children who are learning from you, me, their parents, teachers. We can do great harm even though we have the best intentions. Encourage the growth mindset and communicate to children that their ability is not finite or fixed. They can succeed, grow, and achieve, but we must help them believe it and internalize that belief. That’s what will help guide them through most life tasks successfully, or at least their self esteem won’t be tied to their ability to master all things at all times. Successes come but after a series of failures and mistakes. That’s life… with a growth mindset!