Te{a}ch Talk

Tips, Tricks, and Thoughts on Transformation

Volume 1, Number 15, April 30, 2015

Growth Mindset: Grit, Resilience, and Continuous Learning

We often talk about what makes our students successful in terms of high achievement in school and a career later in life. There are many factors that contribute to our students' achievement in academics and other areas. Grit--discipline and determination during challenging times--is one of the most important traits we can develop in our students as we encourage tenacity and sustained investment in meeting and exceeding goals.

Teaching a Growth Mindset

The work of Carol Dweck in her book, Mindset (2006), brought the topic of growth vs. fixed mindset to the forefront of conversations regarding education and organizational cultures. She uses several real-world examples and studies to demonstrate the benefit of prioritizing development and continuous improvement over initial talent and achievement. If a community values talent above all, it will foster a fixed mindset among its members who will strive to look and act talented. If a community values continuous improvement, it will foster a growth mindset among its members who will ask questions, accept challenging realities, and believe in their ability to succeed even if they're not there yet.

An important takeaway for schools: We can GIVE a mindset

Using an example of a study conducted with business students in the book Mindset, Dweck (p. 111) illustrates how we can establish fixed or growth mindset. In the study referenced, students were given a task and divided into two groups. Researchers gave one group a fixed mindset, telling them that the task measured their capacity. Better performance on the task indicated higher personal ability. Researchers gave the other group a growth mindset, telling them that skills were developed through practice, and that the task at hand would give them an opportunity to increase their capacity.

The task was difficult with high expectations for the students, who were unable to meet the standard in their initial attempts. Those in the fixed mindset group did not benefit from their initial errors, but those in the growth mindset group responded to feedback from their initial mistakes, changed their processes, and continued to learn and increase their performance. The growth mindset group demonstrated much greater productivity than the fixed mindset group.

Mindset is particularly important when addressing complex tasks and skill development. Particularly in areas requiring creativity, innovation, design, and critical thinking, greater success is associated with a growth mindset that exemplifies continuous improvement and confidence in our ability to refine and advance our productivity.

Much like differentiating, providing effective feedback, assessing for learning, and/or individualizing learning, teaching a growth mindset requires us to leverage the tools we have to manage information, communication, and workflow in our classrooms.

Learning from Picture Books

If you are interested in kid-friendly examples of growth mindset, check out the books by Andrea Beaty that are pictured above.

If you are interested in further conversations about mindset and fostering growth, watch for opportunities in the summer professional learning series schedule that will be out soon.

Friday coffee deliveries went to Amanda Heinritz, Brenda Kragseth, and Amy Tacheny last week. Sign up for your chance for a coffee (or non-coffee) delivery using the form below.