Mindset, part 2

This is part 2 of a 2 part series on Carol Dweck’s “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success-How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential”. Part one can be found here

“I’m just not good at math.”  “This is too hard for me, and I’m never going to get it.”  “School work is just not my thing.”  These statements are difficult for parents and teachers to hear, and clearly demonstrate frustration on the part of students.  How do we help students stuck in the “I can’t,” “I’m no good at this,” and “I’m not meant to do this,”  fixed mindset?

Thankfully, there is current research on mindset that guides us to effective ways to promote the growth mindset with our children and students.  Dr. David Yeager is a researcher who has worked with Carol Dweck and others, and looks at not only what growth mindset is, but also effective ways to develop it.

Here are some suggestions from Dr. Yeager on proven way to promote growth mindset in the classroom, and in our homes:

1.Raise the expectations.  Students will rise to what they believe we think they can do.

2.Promote reflection.  Student who intentionally reflect upon their experiences show more growth than those who do not.  After a challenging situation or assignment, have students talk or write about what they did and what they learned, and how it will help them in the future.

3. Believe in your students, and let them know you believe in them.  

4.Talk the talk of shared responsibility. You are in this together:

  • We will keep finding a way that works for you.
  • I will work together with you to figure this out.
  • Let’s look at what is wrong with this process and see if we can fix it.
  • Let’s figure out together where the confusion is, and see if we can fix it.
  • Maybe we can figure out another way for you to look at the problem that might work better for you.
  • Focus on improvements in behavior, too.  Remind students of how far they have come over time.

Research also shows us things that can discourage a growth mindset.  The goal of learning is not for it to be easy, so stay away from phrases such as:

  • “That was so easy for you!”
  • “You are a natural!”
  • “You got that so quickly.”

These phrases can lead to the assumption that students are liked for their speed and ability. Instead, place the focus on the achievement of learning.

Finally, keep their eyes fixed on Jesus!  Remind them again and again of the hope that is found in Christ alone.  “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Phil. 4:13.