The Importance of Having a Growth Mindset Within Professional Development

Kathryn Starke
Kathryn Starke
Master's in Literacy and Culture, Longwood University, Virginia

A current educational trend teachers, students, and educational leaders are currently focused on is growth mindset. This learning theory, developed by Dr. Carol Dweck, focuses on teaching students of all ages the power of perseverance. It surrounds the belief that anyone can improve intelligence, ability, and performance. Teachers, however, should be provided professional development or readings pertaining to growth mindset. It is important that they understand the concept behind growth mindset in their own personal and professional lives in order to better help their students develop a growth mindset. Individuals with a growth mindset often posses grit, persistence, a good self-esteem, and have an overall emotional well-being. Professional development opportunities can provide teachers strategies that are most effective in fostering growth mindset in students.

How Do You Teach Growth Mindset?

Teaching a growth mindset increases motivation and productivity in education. However, there is no specific way to help students develop their own growth mindset. Creating a culture that values learning is an essential first step. Using positive praise and setting high expectations are also two ways to start the process of including growth mindset in your classroom. Providing students with coping skills such as using positive self-talk is another way to bring growth mindset into the students’ school life. Growth mindset is developed over time and requires feedback and improvement.

Today more than ever, students are experiencing increased anxiety and levels of depression. Giving students strategies to cope with pressure is both an academic and social skills. We all fail at something in our lives. Growth mindset helps us teach children that a failure is a temporary setback and that there is no such thing as perfection. Providing opportunities for curiosity and inquiry leads to students developing a growth mindset. Changing the way you speak, such as “the power of yet” or “I can,” changes your thinking, which leads to having a growth mindset. Praising effort over talent is a powerful way to teach growth mindset, since it’s all about the process and how a student responds or reacts during the process. When teachers see a child’s potential and share it with a child, a growth mindset is blooming.

What impact does Growth Mindset have on Student Performance?

While some research has showed that growth mindset has helped students increase their grades, it’s really about how a student reacts and performs in a situation both academically and socially. Students with a growth mindset are not easily frustrated with tasks and have not developed a “learned helplessness” behavior, which is evident in students most often when they are struggling.  A student with a growth mindset also has better peer relations, because they are better at giving and receiving feedback and coping with their emotions. A child that believes in his or her efforts and is optimistic through the entire learning process will find success both inside and outside of school.

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