There is all this talk now a days about Growth Mindset. It is the new buzz word in the education and parenting realms. I’m sure you’ve seen a ton of ideas for fostering a growth mindset in kids, either at home or in the classroom. But what I’m sure you haven’t seen is how to foster a growth mindset in teachers.
Teachers are one of the most influential people in a child’s life, so therefore what we do as teachers has a profound impact on the children we have influence over. We as teachers not only influence the students in our class, but all students we are engaged with. We also have influence outside of school, maybe with our own family and friends, and also in our community. Because we are teachers, we have more influence or value in the world of children.
This influence should not be taken lightly. We must work to be our best selves to set an example for children to follow. This is where Growth Mindset for Teachers comes in. Now, you may be wondering why teachers need to focus on their own growth mindset vs. developing a growth mindset in students. Well, the simple fact is we can’t teach what we don’t know.
Kids are very intuitive and can easily read people. They know when we are authentic and when we are not. So if we are asking our students to develop a growth mindset, then we better have developed ours first or the kids will see right through us. In order for our growth mindset lessons to be effective with our students, they must first be effective for us.
You may be thinking at this point that teachers inherently have a growth mindset and are some of the most hard working, dedicated professionals. I won’t argue with you on the hard working and dedicated part, but there are many teachers operating with a fixed mindset.
For example, an elementary school teacher who has always taught reading with Basal Readers and sees no value in exploring Readers Workshops or Literacy Stations is operating in a fixed mindset. A high school history teacher who lectures from the book rather than finding ways to bring history alive and relatable for his students is operating in a fixed mindset.
“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.” – Carol Dweck
Now that you have a few examples I’m sure you can think of some teachers you know who are operating in a fixed mindset. There are more of them than we choose to think about. I’d be willing to bet that at least half, if not the majority of teachers, are operating in a fixed mindset. That’s no good if we are wishing to teach the next generation to develop a growth mindset.
So how do teachers develop a growth mindset?
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment,” – Carol Dweck
The process is very much like it is for our students, we must be completely and totally honest and vulnerable with ourselves in order to fully switch from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Ask yourself a few questions to get a feel for your current mindset:
Are you a good teacher?
What makes you a good teacher?
Could you improve in your teaching?
If you answered these questions with facts to support that you are a good teacher, and had a hard time thinking of how you could improve your teaching, you may be operating in a fixed mindset. Now, if you answered with more progressive answers focused on the learning and experiences you have teaching, and are excited about the next areas of focus to improve your teaching, you are probably operating in a growth mindset.
In other words, if you think you’re good and you’re not looking for ways to become a better, more effective teacher, you’re operating in a fixed mindset. If you are excited about what you’ve learned so far and what you will continue to learn on your journey as a teacher, you’re operating in a growth mindset.
When teachers are operating in a growth mindset they are exited for new possibilities, actively engaged in what is happening in the field of teaching, and are open to constructive criticism to help them become their best self! These are the kinds of teachers we need our schools to be filled with. When schools are lead by a growth minded staff, including administrators and teachers, the students will begin to develop a growth mindset.
Growth mindset is not a lesson, it is a way of being, a way of thinking. When teachers are operating in a growth mindset, the environment is conducive for students to develop their own growth mindset. It becomes part of the culture of the classroom, and hopefully the entire school.
For those teachers who are looking to change the world, we need only begin with ourselves.
I have seen so much in the education world about equipping our kids with a growth mindset, I am on a mission to equip teachers with their own growth mindset. Once we truly experience the difference of having a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset we can’t help but share with our students and guide them to that same enlightenment.
Want to learn more about developing or fostering your Growth Mindset as a Teacher? Click here for our Guide to Growth Mindset for Teachers.