So my classroom is all packed up, I’ve handed in my keys and I don’t have to officially report back to school until August 14th! Whew! It feels so good to have a break. Before my brain completely shuts off and doesn’t work again until August, I wanted to share some thoughts around why I love teaching my kids about Growth Mindset.
After a ton of research, Dr. Carol S. Dweck coined the terms “fixed and growth mindset”. This basically means that people who believe that their talents or abilities are just what they are born with have a fixed mindset, people that believe that their talents and abilities can be developed with hard work and dedication have a growth mindset. These mindsets also have very different views about failure. Fixed Mindset thinkers believe that failure is wrong and embarrassing. They often won’t even put themselves in situations where they could fail. Growth Mindset thinkers believe that failure leads to growth and we learn just as much from our failures as we do from our successes.
So what does all this mean for a Kindergarten classroom!?! It always surprises me how at the age of 5, I have kiddos who come into my class so afraid to fail, mess up or do the wrong thing. I think by teaching our kiddos the attitude of a growth mindset, we are giving them a gift that will serve them well throughout their entire lives. If we can demonstrate this positive way of thinking, hopefully a lot of it can be absorbed and our kiddos will start to take risks in their learning. There are 3 basic and easy ways to incorporate this into your daily classroom.
- Practice What You Preach! It is one thing to tell Johnny that “pencils have erasers because mistakes happen”, but it is another thing entirely to have that attitude yourself when your lesson plan goes totally crazy, your daily schedule randomly changes at the worse possible moment or your technology doesn’t work right. When my students see me demonstrating a growth mindset, or I share stories about my own experience with growth mindset it really helps them relate.
- Read-Alouds! Just like how I use read-alouds to teach reading skills, I also use them for character education including growth mindset. One of my favorite books to introduce this new concept is Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae. It’s an adorable book about a giraffe who wants to dance but can’t. He finally finds the right song and is dancing in his own way by the end of the book. I talk about how Gerald gets discouraged but doesn’t give up. We also discuss how his dancing looks different than the other animals but how it is good that they have differences. Then we usually make an anchor chart about things that my students have wanted to learn how to do. Some other great growth mindset read-alouds are: How to Catch A Star by Oliver Jeffers, Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg, Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats, Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Chris Raschka, Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by JoAnn Deak, Flight School by Lita Judge and The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper.
- Visible Reminders! Putting encouragement posters around my classroom helps the kiddos remember what we have learned and discussed. They also serve as a great visual for parent volunteers or visitors to better understand how learning takes place in our classroom. I am so happy when I see my students really love one quote or saying and encourage their classmates by sharing it. Music to my ears!
Hopefully come Fall time you can try to encourage a growth mindset in your classroom and see the positive results that come with it. I would also love to hear ideas about how other teachers have taught this type of thinking in their classrooms. I will leave you with my favorite quote by the amazing Albert Einstein…