Today’s blog is a guest post from Silvia Woolard. Sylvia is a young passionate writer and private tutor from Phoenix, USA. In her free time, she writes and works in the field of popular psychology.
At one point or another, all teachers have heard of the concept growth mindset. When students have this mindset, they believe that they can improve their knowledge and intelligence over time, so they are progressively trying to get smarter. They realize that these efforts affect their future, so they put in the extra time to gain more knowledge and develop new skills.
The fixed mindset, on the other hand, is something completely different. In this mindset, people believe that their intelligence and talents are fixed personal traits. They don’t believe they can improve them, so they don’t bother to try.
This concept was developed by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck. Throughout her research, she realized that people manifest one of these two mindsets from a very early age. Our own approach determines our personal growth, and ultimately our happiness in life.
Needless to say, the growth mindset leads to more growth. As a teacher, you witness your students manifesting these mindsets, and you have a responsibility to lead fixed-mindset students towards growth. They can change the way they approach learning; they just need proper guidance.
Let’s see how you can provide that guidance.
Teach Your Students Not to Hide Their Flaws
When you ask a question, many of your students look down, hoping that if you don’t catch their eyes, you won’t address them directly. You figure this is a sign of social anxiety. That is true, but it’s also a sign of the fixed mindset. These students want to hide their lack of knowledge. They also want to hide their insecurity. They are so sure that they won’t perform well if they speak up in front of the class that they try to hide their flaws.
You have to help them change that. Talk to your students about flaws! Everyone has them, and we have to acknowledge them. We’re flawed, but we can become better. The flaws should be at the top of our list of things to improve.
Engage these students in conversations as often as possible. Don’t make them feel interrogated. Do not criticize them for making mistakes; just congratulate them for sharing thoughts. If they are wrong, you’ll simply provide correct information without making them feel bad.
Teach Them about Failure
Paulina Olie, an educator from UKBestEssays, explains: “Many teachers come to me with requirements for assistance on teaching students how to write. The main problem I’ve noticed with students is that they define themselves with failure. If they got a bad grade on their first essay, they believe it’s just what they are capable of, and they don’t try to get better. That mindset is a huge setback on the educational journey.”
As a teacher, you have the power to change their perception of failure. A bad grade is just an indicator of their momentary knowledge and skills. It’s not what they get for good. A single bad test only means that they should and they can do better.
Do not make them feel shame for getting a bad grade. Just hand out the tests and don’t address anyone personally. Just give them a motivational talk about the potential for success and the importance of effort. Provide Support!
Help Them Discover Their Passion
The students with a fixed mindset don’t have a precise passion that they could translate into specific skills. They might like basketball, but they don’t believe they could be good at it. They might like pictures of dinosaurs, but the think that the history of our planet is too long and too complicated for them to understand.
You have to help your students discover their passion and recognize it. It can lead them to the development of knowledge and skills.
Remember: It’s about the Process; Not the Outcome
So maybe a student won’t become a scientist if they study harder. That’s not important. If someone figures out that they can’t reach incredible success, they focus on an overwhelming outcome and they stay in the fixed mindset.
To promote the mindset of growth, you have to teach your students that it’s not about the outcome. It’s about the process. Yes; they can aim towards particular goals, but they shouldn’t feel bad if they don’t achieve them. They should set micro-goals that lead them throughout the journey.
It’s the progress that matters. If they try, progress and growth are inevitable.
The main thing you should do as a teacher is praise efforts instead of intelligence. Yes; some of your students learn more easily than others. You shouldn’t praise them for that. You must start giving credit to all efforts and progress that everyone makes.