How to Help Students Realize Their Own Potential: Part 1


                If you have followed any education blogs or trends over the past few years, then you have heard of a growth mindset. Teaching students about a growth mindset early on can have a huge impact on their learning. Chances are if a student is struggling in a content area, then they will need these growth mindset lessons. In this week’s instillation, we will explore what exactly a growth mindset is. Next time, we will explore some of the ways to teach it, and we will share our favorite resources to reach student and adult learners alike.  

What is a growth mindset?

                Someone who has a growth mindset believes that if you work hard, you can improve at something. This could be in any area: if you are not good in math, but you practice, you can improve; playing basketball might not be easy at first, but if you show up and practice regularly, you may become a starter; someone doesn’t understand how to knit when she first tries, but after some help and repeated tries, she can knit a whole blanket.  

                Conversely, someone with a fixed mindset believes that if you aren’t good at something, well then, you will never be good at it. People with fixed mindsets believe that intelligence and skills are innate, and that whatever strengths or deficits you are born with, stay with you for life.

                People who have a growth mindset know and understand that every individual’s brain works differently. They understand that how each individual learns is different, and that, while some things may come easier to others, it does not mean that all people can’t learn it. Sometimes, the way we practice needs to change in order for us to get something, and other times, the amount we practice needs to increase in order for us to achieve mastery. However, no matter the case, mastery is possible.

Why teach a growth mindset?

                Many struggling students have low self-confidence about the areas they struggle in, and often compare themselves to their peers who appear to have to work less hard. Students will shut down in order to prevent themselves from feeling dumb or feeling bad about themselves. It is easier not to try then it is to look dumb in front of my peers who get it the first time.

                Teaching children and adults about the growth mindset helps them understand that their deficits are not permanent, that the way they learn isn’t bad or lesser, it just might be different, and that they can learn the challenging information, they just may need more or different practice. The more students understand their brains and the ways they work, the more students will feel empowered to take their learning and their challenges with confidence and tenacity.