Today, we’re bringing you a guest post by Ian Moore, an Educational Sales Consultant with IXL. In this post, he explains what a growth mindset is and shares his insights and expertise on how to cultivate this mentality in students.
The school year is quickly approaching its end! It’s evident in the number of teachers and students frantically preparing for End of Course tests. You, as the teacher, have done all you can, but you still have concerns that it’s just not enough. Your district has spent money on test prep books, bought the whole school “Rock the Test” T-shirts, and even hired the greatest motivational speaker your remaining budget could afford. But wait, there might be something missing…
- Study guide… check!
- Calculator… check!
- No. 2 pencil… check!
- Lucky T-shirt… check!
- Mindset… uhh… mindset… umm…
After studying growth mindset for a number of years, I’ve discovered that the key to success in education has little to do with curriculum. What matters are the beliefs of the individual about their inherent abilities. Your students’ attitude, effort, and grades are the fruit of what they’re thinking, not a reflection of their intelligence. The most important factor in student achievement is rarely addressed in the classroom: moving students from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.
Changing a mindset is not something we can do overnight, but here are three strategies you can begin today to implement growth mindsets in the classroom:
- The Power of Images: Kids are inundated with strong negative images that help shape their thoughts about themselves and their abilities. To counter this, you can place positive affirmations and pictures of success throughout your class. It should be the first thing they see when they walk in and the last thing they see when they walk out. The more positive images are stamped in a child’s brain, the greater the chance they will believe that they can succeed in their educational pursuits.
- Watch Your Words: The spoken word has powerful consequences. As teachers, you have the opportunity to shape minds and that is an awesome duty! You must not be casual with your words, but intentional. You have power to lift students up or tear them down, and what you say has the power to last a lifetime, for good and bad. Saying things like “you’re just not good at math,” “you’re not that smart,” or “you won’t amount to much” has implications far beyond your classroom. Instead, use the power of your words with growth mindset in mind.
- More Than a Number: Technology can help you foster a growth mindset in the classroom. First, let’s take a look at a typical paper worksheet. When a student hands in an assignment with 20 questions and receives it back with 10 wrong, that student has been identified by their grade. They have failed, and they internalize that they are a failure. If this continues, the student creates in their mind an expectation of failure, and therefore, won’t try hard enough the next time. However, with an adaptive edtech tool like IXL, students now have the ability to become a master as opposed to being labeled a failure. IXL’s content and scoring system are designed so that it’s not about just getting a percentage of questions right; it’s about helping all students gain excellence, and allowing them to do so at their own pace.
As you think about your day-to-day work as a teacher, be mindful that there are things you can do that are far more powerful than your classroom work. You may be a great teacher with the latest, greatest curriculum, but the key ingredient is creating a growth mindset in your students. As the old axiom goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Let’s make sure that our students are truly ready.