The Power of the Growth Mindset

How can I help a learner develop a growth mindset? There are at least 100 diverse ways that this question can be approached. For starters, I must embody the growth mindset within myself. I must embrace my failures and shortcomings and accept them as growth opportunities. Secondly, I must be able to demonstrate this in the classroom. How do I demonstrate this in the classroom? This is where the question becomes tricky. We live in a society where grades matter more than positive expectations. I can want a child to succeed, but if they do not have the grade that justifies that belief, I cannot do any more than what the system will allow me to do. The growth mindset is powerful; however, the foundation must be set early on. Students must know that they are valued. And the teacher slash mentor must be trusted to even begin encouraging the idea of a growth mindset. Learners must be open to the idea that they are imperfect. This raises its own concern with students who have a higher expectation of themselves in the classroom. These students tend to think of themselves as perfect and without fault. Does this sound familiar? These are the students in the fixed mindset. Helping my learners develop a growth mindset will require a lot of preemptive work that would lay the foundation for the rest of the school year. 

The notion of “yet” ideology. Yet means that my learners have not mastered what they are expected to have mastered. Once again, I reiterate the current world that we live in. Everything is based on an alphabetical system of a through F. In a traditional scenario, yet means an F. And while I would love to change this way of thinking, I am one cog in an exceptionally large grandfather clock. Even if I am removed, I will just be replaced with a gear that is the exact same shape and form as I am. Yet allows the students to continue to learn in areas that they do not necessarily understand yet. The idea of yet can be modelled in conjunction with the growth mindset in encouraging students to take accountability of their learning by ensuring that they have mastered the current and past lessons. In Sylvan, students use an iPad-based system that constantly is assessing their ability overtime. The system then monitors their growth and difficulty and adjusts until the learner can gain a better understanding of the material. This is like what I proposed as well. 

Under the growth mindset, feedback would be seeing more of a constructive criticism designed to help a learner grow. This is a positive that can be used to help our learners advance through our respective courses. Cheating is a different story, however. Cheating must be understood from the Perspective of why cheating happens. I passionately believe, cheating is a result of hopelessness. Cheating is the shady spot of education that people demonize yet do not understand where it is born from. Our culture is a success-based culture. You are looked down upon if you are not successful and it is just that simple. While the growth mindset would help with reducing cheating because it allows people to be accountable for their learning while also at the same time removing the judgmental critique that is the letter grade. The practicality of this in the current world is challenging to implement. Especially given the public school system and which most of us are employed. Students cheat to get to college. Students cheat to pass a class. Students cheat because they are so close to failure, they do not see any other option. Students cheat because their entire life has been filled with hopelessness and they see cheating as the only possible solution to get them further in life. 

The growth mindset can help limit some of my students’ preoccupations with grades buy a stablishing early on those grades are not the focus of this course. Once again, I reiterate that the high achieving students may have difficulty understanding this concept. However, once this concept has been fully engrained into those students after a few instances of trial and error, these students will become more accepting of this. My students also must see that grades do not matter to me as their instructor. If I am too focused on grades, I am not focused on their learning. My students must see me embodying the growth mindset and focusing on their learning and not the gradebook. In the example of our current class, we were told that we are all going to get in a period however, the interesting component is that our classmates are still challenging us to be our best selves. The class is self-motivating itself through rigorous challenging work and that competitive spirit between each of us. We all want to put our best foot forward. Grit is purely that desire to achieve. Nothing else needs to be said. 

One of the things I have observed since starting the DDL program is the level of psychological study that the program has put us through. grit can be misused only if you are unaware of your surroundings and the environment in which you work. True, a delusional optimist has the power to radically change the lives of the learners around him or her. This important detail cannot be overlooked when thinking about the power that comes with the growth mindset and the grit of learners. Make bridging a connection between lifelong learning, determination, and the drive to learn are all things that must be considered when applying these mindsets in the classroom. If our learners are already at several different disadvantages, then this process must be slow and implemented over the course of time. Optimism is powerful enough to keep you going, but knowledge is what will keep you there. 

References

RSA ANIMATE: How To Help Every Child Fulfil Their Potential  

The power of believing that you can improve | Carol Dweck   

Grit: the power of passion and perseverance | Angela Lee Duckworth 

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