THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF MINDSETS, FIXED AND GROWTH (Dweck, 2006). The fixed mindset tells us we either can or cannot do something. It leaves no room for growth. It is like a cloak to disguise our true selves due to our fear of feeling “exposed.” When this happens we miss the opportunity to develop our abilities whether or not they seem to come naturally to us. Learning then becomes a chore or another risk of failure instead of a thriving curiosity. The fixed mindset hides in the face of challenges and attempts to convince itself and others that it is anything but fear. The growth mindset sets us free.
The growth mindset has the capacity to transform the way we engage with challenges. It helps us to develop an inner voice that is courageous. We may reignite a fire within that gives us permission to take steps toward our goals even if we fail. In fact, it is wise to expect failure, but to not let it define our identities. Failure is what reminds us that we are human and makes us relatable to the community around us. It allows us to learn how to trust ourselves and develop a cycle of peace and freedom that we can and will be able to accomplish our ambitions.
Fear of failure will petrify us in our current state more than the actual failure ever could. We are not failures until we surrender the will to keep moving forward. Without failure, one of the most dangerous attributes we can develop is entitlement. Entitlement blinds us to what is most important and creates this notion that the world revolves around us and only us. The world owes us. Entitlement sets us up in a way that we will waste our lives, and possibly not even know it. In our society, humility is often mistaken for weakness. However, humility is the foundation for the growth mindset to flourish.
There are four simple steps to begin our adventure toward a growth mindset. First, we need to bring awareness to our fixed mindset “voice.” When we are able to discern and distinguish between our fixed mindset voice and growth mindset voice, we will begin to create a foundation for the steps that follow. As we consciously decipher between the battling mindsets, we will be more equipped to give power to the voice of growth. Our fixed mindset voice will shut down our attempts to keep trying. It will try to create a belief that if we are unable to accomplish something on the first try, then we better tap into the fight or flight response to regain our dignity. Conversely, the growth mindset voice gives us the power to quiet our fixed mindset voice. It allows us to speak back to that part of ourselves that says “we can’t,” and say “we can’t, yet.” It grants us the opportunity to grow, and to reach beyond what we previously believed was impossible. Effort then takes on a new meaning. Instead of a tireless process, it has now become the goal. The process of learning is the goal rather than necessarily reaching the goal itself. Create a growth mindset action plan enriched in growth-minded vocabulary that will move you forward. If you try and fail, get up and keep trying. It is never too late to start, and it is never too late to tap into resilience and get back up again. (Dweck, 2006-2010)
Here is a list of resources that can help you develop your growth mindset:
- Mindset, by Carol Dweck
- mindsetonline.com, by Carol Dweck
- Mindset resources available on edutopia.org
- The Growth Mindset Coach: A Teacher’s Month-by-Month Handbook for Empowering Students to Achieve, by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley
It is important that we promote and model the growth mindset daily so it becomes a natural part of both our environment and our students’ environment. Whether we are working with students who are seemingly high performing and possibly labeled “gifted and talented,” or we are working with students whose behaviors toward school are apathetic and lethargic, we are still able to reach both extremes when we help them develop their growth mindset. It is vital that our students are developing their inner growth mindset voice so they are able to connect with their most authentic selves. When our students struggle, they can still hold on to the hope of improvement if we remind them of the powerful word “yet” (Dweck, 2006, p. 25). I have recently introduced the growth mindset with my current students who have been faced with incredibly traumatic obstacles in their young lives, and it has transformed the way they have engaged with tough assignments or concepts. Those with a growth mindset were able to face school related challenges with optimism. My yoga teacher said, “we are only our students’ teachers if they choose us to be their teachers” (Wolters, 2018). There has to be a freedom of choice and mutual respect for them to respond to trusting us with their learning. The growth mindset helps us develop that mutual respect and foundation for learning to take place. It has also challenged me as their teacher to keep my own mindset in check and to consistently create opportunities within or outside of the classroom for significant learning and inspiration to take place.
As I progress through this course and the remainder of the Digital Learning and Leading program, I will work at recognizing my inner voices and replace the fixed mindset voice with one of courage. Learning and effort will be my goal. I recognize that constructive criticism when given thoughtfully will only help me become the brightest and most influential version of myself as a learner and as a teacher.
This is a link to a Prezi I made to help us understand mindset.
Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine Books.
Dweck, C. S. (2006-2010). How can you change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset? Retrieved from www.mindsetonline.com.