How teachers can help students to form a Growth Mindset in the classroom

A word that is heard quite commonly is ‘mindset ‘. Mindset is a set of beliefs that shape how you make sense of the world and yourself. It influences how you think, feel, and behave in any given situation. A growth mindset towards learning is now considered as important as the academic knowledge itself whether at school or at the workplace.

Research shows that a growth mindset towards learning helps students to understand that their abilities can be developed over time through effort and persistence. On the other hand, people with a fixed mindset believe that abilities are fixed and are present when you are born. They cannot be developed or improved further.

When a child has a growth mindset, they tend to have a hunger for learning and a desire to work hard and discover new things. This often translates into academic achievement. On the other hand, those with fixed mindsets are more likely to give up in the face of challenging circumstances.

How are these mindsets formed in the first place?  One of the main causes is found to be praising and labeling often in early childhood at home, school or in public interactions. Thus, parents and teachers can make a significant impact in the formation of mindset in students.

A few pointers on how we can make a difference as teachers in formation of a growth mindset:

  • Teach the students about brain neuroplasticity which is the ability of the brain to form new neural connections in response to challenges or new experiences. Students will be more interested in learning when they know that they can remodel their own brain during study and drill. A very useful teaching resource in this direction is the 3-D brain map sourced from the Open Colleges website. Students can click on various parts of the brain model and learn about different parts and their functions. The brain map also provides options for accelerating learning by providing case studies.

  “Picture your brain forming new connections as you meet the challenge and

           learn. Keep on going.” – Carol Dweck

  •  Mistakes and Failure from the students are to be normalized and not criticized. As children grow, they become more and more reluctant to commit any mistake due to the fear of failure. Only if they commit mistakes will they learn. Encourage students to openly discuss their failures and learn from them.

  •  Practice positive self – talk and reframe language during communication and feedback. A teacher must add the golden word “yet” if any student says “I am not good at math”. “Not yet”, the teacher must add so that students understand skills are modifiable. Teaching students how to use positive self-talk helps them develop the confidence and essential skills necessary to be successful in scientific challenges and investigations.

Therefore, as a teacher, the next time a student struggles we must consciously use a growth mindset to encourage and help that student to find a different way of thinking.

“More and more research is suggesting that, far from being simply encoded in the genes, much of personality is a flexible and dynamic thing that changes over the lifespan and is shaped by experience.” – Carol Dweck.

Ms. Preethi C

High School Math Teacher

Posted by Ekya

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