Of the many challenges educators face, one of the most formidable (and least obvious) is student mindset. Teaching students to comprehend, absorb, and apply new material and concepts is challenging under any circumstances. And it becomes more difficult when students doubt their ability to learn. Learning to foster a growth mindset with the students can be a key foundation for creating a positive learning environment in students. Fostering a growth mindset in children is arguably as important as any academic skill.
But, can simply believing you have the ability to learn increase your ability to learn? According to growth mindset researchers, the answer is yes. There are two kinds of mindsets, Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset. People with a fixed mindset view failure as a result of their lack of ability, while people with a growth mindset see the opportunity to expand their abilities and to work harder and smarter. A student’s mindset can impact a student’s ability to learn. For example, with a growth mindset, students believe in their ability to learn and achieve their goals and actually obtain those educational goals and growth. In contrast, students with fixed mindsets tend to think they'll fail. This mindset can lead students to lack the motivation to even begin to apply themselves.
Luckily, there are many ways to foster a positive mind in a student. One of them is to ‘Embrace Challenges with a positive attitude’. By presenting the opportunity to face a challenge with enthusiasm, one can help inspire the student to view the challenge in a new way. Enthusiasm is contagious. This will help students to face challenges with a positive mindset and feel empowered to overcome each challenge or solve a difficult problem. And as we know “Smooth seas don’t make skillful sailors”, therefore without challenges one cannot grow.
One can also utilize empathy to engage with students to foster a relationship of teamwork and partnership. For example, if a student is struggling with a complex concept, try sharing a personal experience of something you have struggled with before. Empathize with how they are feeling before helping them create a plan for how they will conquer this problem. As showing empathy will not only make them feel that they aren’t alone but also make them stronger. Positivity goes a long way here. By keeping positive and remaining encouraging, one can continuously support your student’s growth mindset. Remind them that the process of learning can be hard, but in the end, it's worth the extra effort!
When discussing mistakes or failures, focus on how people learn from them rather than whether they feel bad about them. One can foster this attitude in students by teaching them how to view challenges as opportunities for learning, instead of setting up competition between students. Encourage students to think about mistakes as learning experiences, not as evidence that they are not good enough or smart enough. Help them understand that failure can often lead to better results in the future.
One should also avoid praising intelligence. This may seem illogical, but praise for “being smart” reinforces the idea that intelligence is a fixed trait. This can be demotivating for the students being praised “I’m smart; I don’t have to try harder” as well as for those who don’t not receive the praise “That student is smart; I’m not”. Therefore praise for working hard not intelligence.
We know that stress can be a huge hindrance in positive thinking. Stress causes one to feel low, demoralized and disillusioned. Tackling stress is thus a very important aspect of promoting positivity. Students can have very stressful lives trying to cope with the academics, extra-curriculars while also dealing with peer pressure and insecurities. So, students should eat well; since many students binge eat junk food during stress which causes further health issues. Taking a break from Social Media and other electronic devices has also become crucial. Lastly and most importantly to relieve stress students should rest well; students get exhausted from their daily activities which cause them to have a burnout , which affects not only their physical health but also mental health.
We look up to and admire people and make them our role models who back their ideas and opportunities with a positive mindset, hardwork and believing in themselves. For example 12 rejections later and after lots of dedication, J.K. Rowling had managed to sell over 400 million copies of her Harry Potter series worldwide. And not to forget the lovely movies which are still and will continue to be adored by people. Rowling is a living example of how things always work out in the end, we just have to keep trying. Our efforts are bound to pay off at some point or another.
Therefore concluding that a growth mindset helps us develop resilience and perseverance when we face obstacles or setbacks. It allows us to take risks and challenge ourselves without being afraid of failure. Truly nurturing a growth mindset in students will take time and effort, but the benefits are far-reaching. Students may not end up believing they have no limitations. But they can certainly learn that their capabilities grow with hard work, positive mindset, and support. These skills will serve them well when they tackle high school, college, and beyond.