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Growth Mindset Plan

Why a Growth Mindset?

Having a growth mindset is the only way we truly learn.  No one is locked into their set of “natural abilities,” and giving children labels often sets them up to be content, always settling and never improving.  All young children have innate potential.  It might be substantial or fairly basic, but the only way we can improve our talents is to focus on developing our inherent potential.  “Kids tend to fare better when they regard intelligence and other abilities not as fixed traits that they either have or lack but as attributes that can be improved through effort” (Kohn, 2015).  In her book “Mindset,” Carol Dweck gives examples of athletes having humble beginnings with basic skills, often not deemed extraordinary.  However, they developed their extraordinary athletics skills only through daily commitment and struggle when we assume they were simply “born to be great.”  Dweck talks about how having a growth mindset offers many benefits for individuals, even at the organizational level.  When a person’s attitude shifts from fixed talents or abilities to skills developed with great effort, they begin to see the potential of having a growth mindset. The growth mindset encourages us to embrace setbacks and to learn from our mistakes. Ultimately leading us to become lifelong learners who strive for improvement (Dweck, 2007).

Developing and Embracing a Growth Mindset

Leading by example is the first step to creating a growth mindset. As teachers and coaches, we must “walk the walk before we can talk the talk.” Therefore, we must first have a growth mindset in our own lives, especially in our classroom, if we are to ask our students to have one in their learning journey. I will start by helping students understand that “not yet” is imperative to their success.  The idea that we will succeed and haven’t gotten there yet is imperative to creating a growth mindset.  The idea is that learning is a constant state of mind and that failure only means we still have something that we are missing.  Having a growth mindset is not always “looking on the bright side” but knowing that setbacks and failures are important lessons for success."It’s critical to reward not just effort but learning and progress, and to emphasize the processes that yield these things, such as seeking help from others, trying new strategies, and capitalizing on setbacks to move forward effectively" (Dweck, 2016).

Growth Mindset in 4 Steps
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Moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset is a long-term commitment and requires ongoing development (Dweck, 2016). Even once it is achieved, it must be preserved and encouraged consistently. Strategically applying these four steps as individuals and throughout your organization will allow you to start to see change.

Learning to Hear Your Fixed Mindset "Voice"

Acknowledging that no individual or organization is perfect is the first step. We all have some combination of a fixed mindset within us. There is always going to be an opportunity to grow and develop. Embracing this message will set the tone that perfection does not exist and we all have an inner fix mindset voice to be aware of.

Promoting the Growth Mindset

“Even in the growth mindset, failure can be a painful experience. But it doesn’t define you. It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from” (Dweck, 2007).

Framing the Environment

First, in promoting a growth mindset, we must frame the environment. This means we must make our classes a safe space for failure and mistakes by using statements like “Mistakes are welcome here” or “We have never done this before, but we will figure this out together.”

Power of "Not Yet"!

Second, I have mentioned the power of “not yet” before, but promoting this idea is crucial to adopting and sustaining a growth mindset. When students get frustrated and discouraged in learning, they will inevitably say, “I can’t do it.” Armed with this idea, we will focus on the process and respond, “You can’t do it yet!” This shows that there is a process to learning and that it is not all about the outcome.

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Challenges

One of the many challenges is having a false growth mindset.  Being positive and doing your best is not the same as a growth mindset.  "Do people with a growth mindset believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training”. (Dweck, 2007)  Dweck also states that the fixed mindset, both positive and negative labels can mess with your mind. When you’re given a positive label, you’re afraid of losing it, and when you’re hit with a negative label, you’re afraid of deserving it.  Therefore, it is imperative that we, as educators, that we give feedback that focuses on the process and not the outcome. 

Impact of a Growth Mindset

Having a growth mindset is a constant struggle.  As Carl Moore said, educators “must coach student success by encouraging and rewarding hard work” (Moore, 2018).  “People with the growth mindset, however, believe something very different. For them, even geniuses have to work hard for their achievements. And what’s so heroic, they would say, about having a gift? They may appreciate endowment, but they admire effort, for no matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment” (Dweck, 2007).


“All of us have elements of both—we’re all a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets.”   “People can also have different mindsets in different areas. I might think that my artistic skills are fixed but that my intelligence can be developed. Or that my personality is fixed, but my creativity can be developed. We’ve found that whatever mindset people have in a particular area will guide them in that area” (Dweck, 2007).  "People have different resources and opportunities. For example, people with money (or rich parents) have a safety net. They can take more risks and keep going longer until they succeed. People with easy access to a good education, people with a network of influential friends, people who know how to be in the right place at the right time—all stand a better chance of having their effort pay off. Rich, educated, connected effort works better. People with fewer resources, in spite of their best efforts, can be derailed so much more easily. The hometown plant you’ve worked in all of your life suddenly shuts down. What now? Your child falls ill and plunges you into debt. There goes the house. Your spouse runs off with the nest egg and leaves you with the children and bills. Forget the night school classes. Before we judge, let’s remember that effort isn’t quite everything and that all effort is not created equal” (Dweck, 2007)
 

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My Personal Growth Mindset Journey

During my journey in the Applied Digital Learning program, I am reminded of how, when I was younger, I would have to fight to slowly develop my abilities in the various disciplines in which I have been blessed to participate.  I have seen firsthand how people can tell me, “You make it look so easy.”  Every time, I try to convey that it was only through many years of a long process.  In this program, I will continually take the growth mindset and challenge myself to take a direction of instruction in my class that will allow students to take a more holistic approach to their education.  In my teaching, I will emphasize the power of the “not yet” idea to help foster the growth mindset in myself, my colleagues, and my students.  I will strive not to use technology as a quick fix or in place of sound teaching methods and learn to coach my students to develop their own growth mindset and create their own e-portfolio to document their accomplishments.

References

Dweck, C. (2016, January 13). What having a “growth mindset” actually means. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2016/01/what-having-a-growth-mindset-actually-means 

Dweck, C. (2007). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Random House.

Jeffrey, S. (2024, January 2). How to change your mindset from fixed to growth: A definitive guide (4 steps). CEOsage. https://scottjeffrey.com/how-to-change-your-mindset/ 

Tony, S. (2018, May 7). Create a growth culture, not a performance-obsessed one. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2018/03/create-a-growth-culture-not-a-performance-obsessed-one

Moore, C. (2018, November 28).  Five Ways to Teach Students to Be Learning Centered, Too. https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/five-ways-to-teach-students-to-be-learning-centered-too/

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