Students with a growth mindset begin with the belief that intelligence, talent and ability can go up or down. This tends to lead to some or all of the following habits:
- Effort is seen as a path to mastery. Students believe that by applying effort – and targeting it effectively – you can learn, develop and grow.
- Challenge is seen as something useful and is often embraced. Students understand that challenges push us to do more than we can currently manage. They appreciate that you can learn from challenges and that, over time, the challenge will become manageable and then easy.
- Mistakes are not necessarily loved but they are seen as something from which you can learn. This is accompanied by the belief that failure is not the be all and end all. Instead, we can learn from failure, picking ourselves up and trying again.
- Feedback gives you information you can use to improve or develop your work. This does not mean that feedback is always received in a positive way, but it does mean that students are able to put emotional reactions to one side and make use of the feedback by applying it to their learning.
- Thinking is seen as open to change. As part of this, students see the benefit of thinking about their own thinking (metacognition). They understand that by attending to your thoughts you can identify what is working and what isn’t, using this to make changes, refinements and improvements.
- Persistence in the face of obstacles is a good thing. Students are more likely to persist when faced with obstacles. Their thinking is animated by the belief that effort leads to mastery and that you are in a position to alter what you can currently do. Therefore, persevering has benefits (and is likely to lead to good outcomes).
- Students are more likely to have a go at things and not fear the consequences of being wrong. They understand that we learn through trial and error. And they appreciate that you can’t develop and grow unless you try out new things.
When promoting growth mindsets in our classrooms it is these habits we seek to cultivate. By doing this we help students to become more resilient. The process sees us developing their character as well as their knowledge and understanding.
Help students to better understand growth mindsets by sharing these habits with them. Lead your class in a discussion looking at the consequences to which these habits give rise. Consider situations which might come about in lessons as well as situations from life in general. Ask students to discuss specific scenarios and to trace out the different paths which may result if an individual has some or all of these growth mindset habits compared to if they do not.