This year I introduced growth mindset to my students. Growth mindset is the idea that continuous effort and a positive attitude will increase achievement. Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck completed decades of mindset research, showing that using a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity. Students with a growth mindset choose to see failures as opportunities for learning, and they make the conscious decision to try new strategies, learn things in new ways, and look at school from different perspectives.
My students have really grasped this concept, especially since our growth mindset bulletin board and growth mindset brag tags are daily reminders.
My students have growth mindset down pat. But what about me, the teacher? Am I using a growth mindset?
Oftentimes, as teachers, we are really hard on ourselves. We are always wondering what we can do differently, or thinking about how we can change things for the next school year. I have done that, year after year during my teaching career. For every teacher, some years are a little more challenging than others. Between emotional instabilities, behavior management, defiant behaviors, and academic interventions teachers can find themselves feeling defeated, overwhelmed, exhausted, and unsure if what we’re doing is actually making any impact.
As teachers we should remind ourselves of the quote “if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you” to try to get ourselves through the difficult days.
Something that has really helped me this school year, is reflecting on my own growth mindset-especially on those tough days.
These are five things I do to remind myself that successful teachers keep a growth mindset:
Embrace ChallengesI listed this first because it’s the hardest. Teaching can be challenging, but embracing the challenges is what can make us better educators. Challenges can come in different ways: teaching with limited resources, creating your own resources, having no time, dealing with classroom management obstacles, balancing your classroom and home life. If challenges are met with acceptance and with a positive outlook then the challenges won’t seem so dreary.
Persist Despite ObstaclesOnce you embrace challenges, you must continue to persevere despite obstacles. As teachers, things get difficult, but just like we tell our students, we cannot give up easily. For example, if your observation didn’t go so well, it’s okay! Chalk it up as a learning experience and take the feedback to improve your next lesson. If your lesson didn’t reach the majority of your students, be persistent in reteaching your students the skill so they will have mastery. Being persistent through obstacles will help you become a stronger teacher, with a more flexible and positive mindset.
Effort is the Path to MasteryI always ask my students, “Is this your best work?”
As I am now trying to instill a teacher growth mindset I now ask myself, “is this MY best work?” Putting effort into things in our classroom is the way we can be masters of our work.
Is it hard? YES
Does it take time? YES
But it’s what’s best for students, and it helps us continue to persevere and be the very best teacher.
Learn from CriticismAs teachers, we are always the hardest on ourselves. We critique ourselves, our lessons, our ideas, our overall day in the classroom. When we receive criticism from others, we take it even harder. To keep a growth mindset, instead of being hard on ourselves when we receive criticism, we should learn from it. Usually, the criticism we receive may be from an observation, a colleague, or an instructional coach. If we look at the criticism as constructive, we can learn and grow as educators.
Find Inspiration in Others' SuccessesKeeping a growth mindset as a teacher means that you find inspiration the success around you. Comparing yourself to others will not help you to succeed. Figuring out how the person became successful will help you keep a growth mindset. Think of a colleague’s success as inspiration for your own success. When I start thinking about the teachers around me, I remember this quote: “A flower does not think of competing with the next flower-it just blooms.”
Changing your words, can change your mind. It takes time. But it is worth the change.
Inspired to cultivate your growth mindset as a teacher? Check out my growth mindset poster set that is perfect for your staff room, work room, or office area in my TpT store: