When students understand the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset, they can shift their approach to challenges to reflect a belief that their abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. This strategy will help students understand the basics of growth mindset so that they can change the language they use with their peers and with themselves to reflect a growth mindset. Embracing a growth mindset will help students persevere through challenges because when students believe they can get smarter, they put in extra time and effort that lead to higher achievement.
Teach students about the ideas and research behind a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset.
For older students, consider having them read an excerpt from Carol Dweck's book "Mindset," or watching her TED Talk, "The Power of Believing that You Can Improve" or the TED Talk by Eduardo BriceÃ±o, the CEO of Mindset Works, "The Power of Belief," which are all linked in the resource section below.
For younger students, consider reading an age-appropriate book about the way the brain develops such as "Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It" by JoAnn Deak or watching an age-appropriate video like "Brain Jump with Ned the Neuron: Challenges Grow Your Brain" or "The Power of Yet," which are all included in the resource section below.
ClassDojo has a great series of videos, discussion guides, and activities to teach students about growth mindset, which are linked in the resource section below.
Khan Academy also has a great lesson plan about growth mindset (which is included in the resource section below) that introduces students to the concept that intelligence can be developed.
Engage students in a discussion about times when they have had a fixed or growth mindset. It might be helpful to begin by sharing a personal anecdote about when you have shown a fixed mindset.
Encourage students to discuss the impact of working hard and finding the right strategy when facing a challenge.
If students are stuck, as them to share a story about a struggle they had when they were learning. How did it make them feel? How did they overcome it, and what did it teach them?
Ask students to brainstorm things they might say - either aloud or in their heads - when they were engaging in a fixed mindset (i.e., "I'm no good at this" or, "This is too hard").
Write student responses down on the left-hand side of a T-chart or anchor chart.
As a whole class or in student pairs, have students brainstorm alternative phrases that they could say when faced with a challenge that would reflect more of a growth mindset (i.e., "What other strategies can I try?" or, "It may take some time to figure this out").
Write student responses down on the right-hand side of a T-chart or anchor chart.
Display visible reminders of growth-mindset language using posters and bulletin boards.
The anchor charts or t-charts from the activity listed above make great classroom visual reminders.
Additionally, see the resources section below for a variety of great posters and charts that have examples of growth mindset-oriented phrases.
Give students regular feedback on their language. When you hear students expressing a fixed mindset, encourage them to shift their language - or have a peer help them do so - to embrace a growth mindset.
To learn more about supporting students to talk about themselves and their work using a growth mindset, explore the Strengths-Based Instructional Practices strategy in the BetterLesson Lab.
ClassDojo is a multi-faceted classroom management tool focused on reinforcing classroom expectations and communicating those expectations out with the individual student, class, and families.
ClassDojo can support this strategy by providing teachers with videos and lesson plans on big ideas such as developing a growth mindset. From these activities can also stem new categories for points in ClassDojo aligned with the key ideas of a growth mindset.
Explore the "Mindset" lesson by 6th grade BetterLesson Math Master Teacher Andrea Palmer included in the resources below to see how she introduces the concepts of growth and fixed mindsets.