The Most Important Lesson You Can Teach This Year: Growth Mindset

bulletin board growth mindset

It’s finally August, and that means teachers all across the country are preparing to meet a brand new set of students. If you’re like me, this back-to-school season is exciting but also a little scary. What does the school year hold for you? And more importantly, how will you make a positive impact on your students’ lives?

Growth Mindset Classroom Bulletin Board
Growth Mindset Goal Setting Bulletin Board

The anticipation (and sometimes apprehension) for teachers this time of year centers around all the unknowns. How do your soon-to-be students feel about school? What do they believe about learning? Has their school experience been mostly positive, mostly negative, or a mixed bag? What kind of academic or emotional support, if any, will they be getting at home? 

The most important question, in my opinion? How will you, the teacher, lead your kiddos into the belief that they are worthy, capable, and resilient. In other words, how will you foster a growth mindset in each and every child you teach? 

The concept of growth vs. fixed mindset has been popular in the education world for awhile now, and for good reason. Without a growth mindset, students become stuck in the false belief that “I’m just not smart enough. I’m just not that talented. I’m always going to be terrible at math.” 

Growth mindset allows students to say “I’m not there YET” rather than “I’ll never get there.” Kids who can develop a growth mindset early on will be more confident and successful. With the right mindset, academic success will fall into place!

While I’m sure you’re diving into all things curriculum and planning and decorating right now, don’t forget to spend some time strategizing on ways to encourage a growth mindset this year.

Growth Mindset Classroom Posters
Growth Mindset Posters

Here are six ways I encourage growth mindset in my classroom: 

  1. The Power of YET. I like to read the book Giraffes Can’t Dance to introduce this idea. We brainstorm things that we can’t do…YET, and we talk about how we can get there.
  2. We talk about long-term and short-term goals, including goals for the classroom as a whole and personal goals. Here is a free reading goals tracker that kids fill out individually, and a template for a reading levels data chart to keep on the wall.
  3. I teach my students about the value of mistakes: everyone makes them, and each mistake is a chance to learn and grow! My growth mindset posters emphasize this as well 🙂
  4. I’m mindful of the types of praise I give. Rather than praising a child’s talent or intelligence or grade they received, I focus on praising their effort, strategy, process, and perseverance. We also talk about ways to embody the six pillars of character and how to recognize and praise our peers who use them.
  5. We practice positive self-talk. One of my favorite activities to do the first week of school is to create a positive self-talk poster together. One side says “Instead of Thinking” and the other says “Try Thinking.” 
  6. We have a whole “Growth Mindset” bulletin board in the classroom that includes a space for each child to add sticky notes with their goals written on them. It’s front and center so it’s always on our minds!

Is growth mindset a big part of your classroom? What are some ways you encourage it with your students? Leave me a comment on the blog! 

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