What role do we as teachers play in setting an example of the growth mindset?

As educators, it’s very likely that we have encountered the idea of “growth mindset” for our students. Over 30 years ago researcher Carol Dweck began exploring the link between student’s attitudes toward academic achievement and the comparison between a “fixed mindset” and a “growth mindset”. The research was revolutionary, finding that when students believe that they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. This then leads to students putting in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement.

Since this research, many schools, school districts, and state Departments of Education have made the idea of “growth mindset” a cornerstone of academic achievement, rightfully so. This leads to the question, as teachers, can we learn from our students? How can we create a classroom environment conducive to consistent self-assessment, but also apply that idea to who we are professionally, fulfilling the best of who we want to be in our classrooms each and every day?

What is hiding in the grade book?

It might help to first have an honest conversation…we’ve all been there, end of the grading period, grades aren’t exactly up to par so we give a “quiz” or last-minute “open book” review for no other reason than to appease our inner teacher conscience or to hit a “grade quota” set by the district. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s normal, human, but are we being fair to ourselves and our students? While this example may seem small and very relatable is it aligned to our own “teacher growth mindset”?

As educators, one freedom that most of us can still relish in is our ability to deliver standards, curriculum, and content in the way and environment that we chose to create. With so many challenges facing teachers, the ability to bring our own “growth mindset” to our classrooms might be our most valuable tool. The confidence to find your own teaching voice, incorporate techniques that work best for your class, and even on the “hard days” to preserve and trust that the standards you have set, will lead to amazing academic growth and classroom culture that reflects your confidence and delivery of instruction.

With Great Freedom, Comes Great Responsibility

Questions that we should ask ourselves and be willing to answer honestly might start here; In delivering content, what are my strengths and weaknesses? What would I like to change or improve? Most importantly, are you creating a learning environment that is “student-focused” and if you’re not, how can you change that? Another element to focus on could be assessments. Do you have purposeful assessments? What do you learn from their outcomes? Do they help guide your instruction? If they don’t help you and your students, what purpose do they serve?

Unchartered Waters Can Be Scary

Venturing into the “growth mindset” of teaching can be uncomfortable for adults, but the positive outcomes can be tremendous. Revel in the knowledge that all your hard work is purposeful and goal-oriented, that you are not only expecting 110% from your students, but you are leading by example, which will not go unnoticed by the kids in your classroom.