The Mindsets

Emma Bumgardner

Agenda for Mindset Conference

8:00 am- Defining the Mindsets
  • Growth Mindset Definition and Examples
  • Fixed Mindset Definition and Examples

8:30 am- Video elaborating on the different mindsets

9:00 am- How to develop growth mindsets in students

  • A plan
  • Discussion and feedback
  • Expectations and affection
  • Goals
  • Modeling

10:00 am- Video about overcoming obstacles.

10:10 am- Break into groups

  • Teachers come up with their own goals for how they will encourage their students to have the growth mindset.

10:45 am- Debrief
  • Allow questions and feedback

What are the Mindsets?

Growth Mindset

The growth mindset is the belief that you can grow and adapt through effort and experience. People with this mindset accept failures as an opportunity to find a way to do better next time. For example, if a kid on a baseball team keeps striking out, instead of quitting, they choose to go home and practice more in order to be better. Failure does not scare people with this mindset. Instead, they embrace it. Jim Marshall, a former NFL player, made a touchdown for the opposing team in the first half. Although he was embarrassed, he decided to make up for it in the second half and played as best as he knew how (Dweck 34). He took an unfortunate situation and chose to grow from it. Failure isn't an option for people with the growth mindset. For example, if a relationship that was previously going really well suddenly starts to decline, a person with the growth mindset will attribute that to a decline in effort. They don't believe the relationship has to be over, they try to work things out and learn to cope with differences (Dweck 149).

Fixed Mindset

The fixed mindset refers to the idea that they are born with certain skills and brains and that their ability is set in stone. People with this mindset tend to believe that effort has nothing to do with success. For example, Loretta was not put in the best class in Kindergarten, and even though she eventually was part of the elite, she didn't feel like she fit in. She remembered the test that held her back from being in the best class and let that define her (Dweck 27). Accomplishments mean everything to people with this mindset. John McEnroe, former pro tennis player, thought he was better than everyone and treated people poorly because he held his talent and accomplishments above everything (Dweck 31). When students with the fixed mindset were asked what they would do on future tests after they did poorly on a previous one said they would cheat or study less. They felt that the lacked the ability to perform well on exams because they weren't smart enough. Therefore, they looked for alternative ways to get better grades and put less effort in because they felt it would be of no help since they couldn't alter their intelligence (Dweck 36). People with fixed mindset don't want to put in effort to practice or work harder because they feel it won't change anything. They are stuck with what they already have.

A Mindset for Success: Growth vs Fixed Mindset

How to develop growth mindsets in students

1) Encourage them to have a plan. If there is something they don't understand in class, instead of procrastinating and getting farther behind, have them write out a game plan. For example, the student could plan to ask for help from the teacher first, then plan to complete one worksheet on the topic each night for a week, then check back with the teacher to make sure they have mastered the concept. With a concrete plan in mind on how to fix the problem, it motivates them to accomplish their goal. They are more likely to follow through because they can visualize how the end result. (Dweck 228)

2) Discuss with students and provide feedback. Pick an assignment that you feel is particularly hard for your students. Then allow each student a few minutes with you to see how they felt about it. If they say it was too hard and they wanted to give up, encourage them to keep trying because others feel the same way. This will make them realize that they aren't the only one struggling and its ok. Its ok to not have the answer each time and that making mistakes only allows us to work harder and find a different solution.

3) Set high expectations and love on your students. Give them tasks that are above the level they can achieve and then work with them to get it done, letting them know along the way they will master it. Let your students know that you are committed to their success and believe that they can succeed. They need to know that you genuinely care about them, whether they are excelling or are falling behind. Don't put labels on the kids from the beginning on who is smart and who isn't. Decide that you are going to help each and everyone of them, regardless of if you like them. Don't show favoritism because the kids will be able to see it. Just love on them and set the bar high. (Dweck 196-198)

4) Set goals. Help the student set goals that they will be able to achieve. Set them high enough that they challenge them, but not too high that they can't get there. Setting goals will encourage them to try to expand their skills and knowledge. Help them achieve their goals by lifting their spirits when they are having a rough time and nudge them in the right direction. Don't give them the answers, but guide them.

5) Model the growth mindset yourself. When you make a mistake in class, discuss it openly with your students. Talk about how we all mess up, but we learn from our mistakes. Seeing an adult not ashamed or embarrassed about messing up will help them learn that its very normal and very necessary. Give another example of how you have messed up but come out the other side a better person because you improved. Let your students interact with you and possibly give examples of how they've made mistakes and how they fixed them later on. This will let the students know that there is more to life than success and how smart you are. (Dweck 234-236)

Failure is not an option. It only makes you stronger.

Nick Vujicic


  • Curtis, Eastman. "Nick Vujicic." Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, 12 Nov. 2008. Web. 21 Sept. 2014.
  • Dweck, Carol. Mindset. New York, Ballantine Books, 2008. Print.
  • Pratlett, John. "A Mindset for Success: Growth vs. Fixed Mindset." Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, 12 Sept. 2012. Web. 21 Sept. 2014.