Jackie Gerstein is an amazing educator and one who never fails to inspire and motivate. Her recent article The Intersection of Growth Mindsets and Maker Education made me stop and think about how we as educators must work to create a classroom environment that stresses a growth mindset for our students. We need to praise the effort of the risk takers.
I think about my own daughter who is extremely bright and has breezed through elementary and middle school and who is now in her first year of high school. She has never failed at anything, school has come easily for her, she will stick with a math problem until she finds the solution rather than run away from a challenge. Yet, I still worry about what will happen if she does not do well on a test.
I also think about my son, also bright, works for his grades and is now applying to college. He actually wrote his essays on the value of perseverance, dedication, and hard work as leading to improvement and change.
Both my children work hard, yet as a parent who is also an educator, I have placed emphasis on the process and the diligence rather than on the graded outcomes.
If educators often fall in to the category of growth mindsets,”Dweck points out that many who excel academically have a fixed mindset, which limits them to exploring only the areas they were told they were good at. Such mindsets are often found within the teaching profession itself” (Gerstein), then we must be that much more mindful of the messages we send to our students. If we want students to take risks, accept challenges, and step out of their comfort zone to explore material and tasks that are new, then we have to create an environment that values the process, rewards the efforts, and find the lessons in the failures and mistakes.
So I’m wondering, what do you do in your classrooms to support the growth mindset?