Today we introduced the Growth Mindset concept with our 7th graders. Psychologist Carol Dweck developed this theory (and published a book of the same name), and the central concept is using failure as a catalyst to learning. With a fixed mindset, students see intelligence as a static, permanent quality and become risk-averse in the classroom. The growth mindset encourages students to see learning as a journey, embracing struggle as feedback to inform their learning. Here’s Dweck talking about her theory.
As teachers, one of our most important jobs is nurturing this mindset. Effective teachers have been doing it long before Dweck spelled it out, and her theory seems to validate the practice of feedback and encouragement. Teaching students self-awareness also aligns with Illinois’ new social emotional learning standards, and the feedback students get provides them with valuable opportunities to grow (which also mirror the predominant framework for teaching most schools use).
Back to our classroom. We’re putting Dweck’s mindset into place by using goals. Students took a few tests to see how well they know state locations and their capitals. After introducing students to Multiple Intelligences, we provided them with a few ways to practice using those strengths. Students set goals, created a plan, and predicted possible obstacles. We’ll use these “Goals to Grow” throughout the year to help develop students’ growth mindset.