Let’s take a little quiz. Answer Yes or No to the following questions:
- Do you avoid challenges?
- Do you embrace challenges?
- Do you give up easily?
- Do you persist in the face of setback?
- Do you ignore useful negative feedback?
- Do you learn from criticism?
- Do you see effort as fruitless or worse?
- Do you see effort as the path to master?
- Do you feel threatened by the success of others?
- Do you find lessons and inspiration in the success of other?
Why these questions? Well, we’re discussing mindsets. If you answered yes to questions 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 you tend have a fixed mindset. If you have answered yes to questions 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 you tend to have a growth mindset. If you had a combination of yes and no answers, then you have both a growth and fixed mindset.
So, how does this relate to education and our lives? First, as educators we must consider the mindset that we have as we are models to all students. How many of you have thought the following:
Those statements, unfortunately, come from a fixed mindset. Our students are seeing fixed mindsets when they come to school, at home, and in the community. So what’s the good news? Mindsets are not stagnant, they can be changed! We should be thinking:
It’s time for new hope, new inspiration, new motivation, a new drive, a new mindset! So, why a growth mindset? According to Carol S. Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, individuals with a fixed mindset plateau early and achieve less than their full potential. Individuals with a growth mindset reach high levels of achievement. The good news is that we have a choice. Mindsets are beliefs. These beliefs have powerful implications. They can determine our attitudes, our views on life, our fears, our insecurities, and our self-worth. Yet, we have the power to change our beliefs and the power to change our mindset. It is just a matter of taking the leap and embracing the new hope.
Why make the change? Having a growth mindset allows people to love what they do. My questions to you are: Why did you get into the field of education? Do you love working with children? Do you have a passion for learning? With a growth mindset, you will continue to love your job and maintain your passion, in the face of difficulties. We want students to have this same passion about learning. Therefore, we must demonstrate our love of what we do to our students so that they love learning. We all know that it is a tough time in education. With Common Core Learning Standards, APPR, SLOs, it is easy to feel defeated. Yet, we must persevere! We must embrace the challenges! We need to rekindle our passion and work harder!
The reason for this big shift in our mindset is our students. According to Dweck, “people are all born with a love for learning, but the fixed mindset can undo it.” It is our role as educators to help students embrace challenges, learn from mistakes, persevere, and be lifelong learners. If we don’t have a growth mindset as educators, then how do students learn to have growth mindsets? We see students 180 days out of 365 days in a year. They see us. We are their role models.
We need to show students that effort and hard work hold great value in education, in the community, and in real life. Instead of praising students for their successes, we need to praise them for their efforts. This way, if by chance they fail, they will know they worked hard or need to work harder. We need to give constructive criticism, meaning that we help our students fix something, repair something, build a better project, and do a better job next time.
I’ll end with this. A good educator “is one who continues to learn along with the students,” (Dweck 2010). We don’t know everything. We still have to learn. Educators are examples for students. We must have high expectations and standards for our students, but they must be given ways of reaching those standards. We must foster a love for learning. With every mistake comes a lesson learned. With every challenge comes an opportunity to better oneself. With a growth mindset, students believe in growth through effort and have an appreciation for learning. They develop this from us!