Just as our students have the opportunity to learn and refine their skills, so too do NMS teachers. We often use time during our monthly staff meetings to discuss topics such as diversity, different learning styles and teaching methods. During a recent meeting, we spent time revisiting Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset. In particular, we examined the language we use when we respond to students’ work and effort.
How we as adults communicate feedback to students is a vital part of how students view themselves and their abilities. If we want to foster a growth mindset in our children, then our feedback needs to inspire them to be lifelong learners and capable of putting forth effort to overcome challenges. They may not be great at everything they do, but we want them to know that we value their efforts and believe in their capacity to get better, but not necessarily perfect, at something they want to do.
To get a quick glimpse at what we recently covered, take a look at the possible responses you may give a child who is working very hard on a project.
Which comments promote a growth mindset compared to a fixed mindset?
a. You’re a natural at that!
b. I like watching you do that!
c. It seems like it’s time to try a new strategy.
d. You should do more work like this; you’re so good at it!
Ready to check your answers?
Comments b and c promote a growth mindset. They convey messages that support effort and flexibility with choices. Comments a and d give the message that students should only do what they are already good at, and if they fail, they aren’t very capable of doing better.
If you are having trouble seeing the difference between promoting a growth mindset over a fixed mindset, that’s ok. You just don’t see it, yet. To learn more about growth mindset, read Dweck’s book Mindset or watch ‘The Power of Belief’: