Growth Mindset 

Praising effort, promoting self-belief and providing the right environment for children to positively tackle challenges underpins good, effective teaching. In schools that are made up of classes with children that are mixed ability, have varying degrees of support from home and come from different socio-economic backgrounds, knowing how best to support every child to help develop or re-enforce a growth mindset can be tricky.

However, there are few key strategies teachers can use to shift children’s learning perspectives from being goal orientated to valuing the process of learning itself, which in turn helps foster a ‘can do’ approach to learning.

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What is a Growth Mindset?

Research into how growth mindset strategies affect children’s learning outcomes in the UK is being carried out by the University of Portsmouth. According to the Education Endowment Foundation, who have funded ‘The Changing Mindsets study’, the evaluation from the study won’t be available until Spring 2018. For now, teachers and education psychologists are turning to Carol Dweck’s influential research on Mindsets, first published in 2006. Dweck suggests that success is not dependent on natural talent but relies on an individual’s mindset. A child that believes intelligence can be developed (and isn’t an innate, natural ability) is more likely to be motivated, interested in learning and embrace challenges, even when faced with failure and they don’t give up trying. How can you nurture a growth mindset in your classroom?


 Key Strategies

  • Language: children experience the world and understand themselves through the language they are exposed to at home, in school and amongst their peers. Understanding the messages conveyed when using certain phrases in the classroom is key to unlocking the potential for language to help develop growth mindsets.

  • Praise: praise helps gives children confidence and re-enforces their self-belief but can it be dangerous too? Dweck argues that praise should be used to encourage children to learn but it should be used wisely. Praising effort rather than praising a child for getting the right answer will help engender a growth mindset.

  • Mistakes grow your brain: taking the fear factor out of making mistakes is vital for encouraging children to attempt challenges. Science has revealed that even when making mistakes your brain fires synapses that help you become smarter. The more mistakes you make, the more you learn.

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