Having a growth mindset doesn’t just mean learning about the theory and leaving it at that. It’s a constant process. Sometimes it’s difficult, often it’s a little painful, but it’s always worth the effort.
First of all, let’s acknowledge that
1. We’re all a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets,
2. We will probably always be, and
3. If we want to move closer to a growth mindset in our thoughts and practices, we need to stay in touch with our fixed-mindset thoughts and deeds.
What triggers YOUR fixed mindset?
Dr. Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University and author of the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, offers the following advice for educators and parents when considering their our OWN fixed mindset triggers.
1. Watch for a fixed-mindset reaction when you face challenges. Do you feel overly anxious, or does a voice in your head warn you away?
2. Watch for it when you face a setback in your teaching, or when children aren’t listening or learning. Do you feel incompetent or defeated? Do you look for an excuse?
3. Watch to see whether criticism or complaints brings out your fixed mindset. Do you become defensive, angry, or crushed instead of interested in learning from the feedback?
4. Watch what happens when you see other’s who are better than you at something you value. Do you feel envious and threatened, or do you feel eager to learn?
5. Accept those thoughts and feelings and work with and through them. And keep working with and through them.
6. Remember, you’re on a growth-mindset journey, too.
Once you become aware of the fixed mindset talk in your head, here is how you can begin to think with a growth mindset.
1. Tell yourself you can do it – Your internal dialogue has a great effect on how you think about things. Giving yourself reasons and excuses as to why you can’t do something are attributes of a fixed mindset. Believing in yourself and thinking that you can are attitudes of a growth mindset.
2. Realize you have a choice – Acknowledge that it is up to you whether you have a fixed or growth mindset. Having a growth mindset means you have the ability to realize that you can improve if you want to, and that whether you improve or not is up to you.
3. Choose difficult tasks – Putting yourself out there and forcing yourself out of your comfort zone means that you’ll either succeed in an area you thought you might struggle in, or you’ll learn from the experience. Having a growth mindset means you would be happy with either outcome; as you’d recognize that both are ways of improving.
4. Seek new learning opportunities – Actively seeking to try out new practices and ideas means that you are taking control of your own professional learning. Discussing both successes and failures with likeminded colleagues means you can help each other improve.
5. Use growth mindset language – Try to maintain a growth mindset in everything that you do. The language you use when giving your students and even yourself feedback will help develop either growth or fixed mindsets. Highlighting permanent traits, such as: ‘You’ve done so well. You must be so smart!’ can lead to people thinking with fixed mindsets. Instead, center your feedback around effort and determination, such as: ‘You must have worked really hard for this test, and your dedication is reflected in your grade’.
“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.” -Dweck 2012
Tell us about a time you demonstrated growth mindset and a time you had a fixed mindset. We look forward to hearing in the comments below.