Implementing Growth Mindset in Your Classroom Today

Growth Mindset is a phrase that was coined by Dr. Dweck.  In simple terms, having a growth mindset is the belief that you can become smarter through hard work and perseverance. "When students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger.  Therefore they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement."  (Mindset Works)

Teaching is tough and to think that we now need to add one more "thing" to teach can be daunting, but teaching growth mindset isn't a lesson; it is part of every lesson.  If we can help our students gain a growth mindset, we are helping them tackle those tough standardized tests, equivalent fractions (eeeks), the standards, and all that jazz.  So you are thinking.....great, this sounds wonderful....but how?  Over the last few years, I have incorporated several ideas.  I hope you can use a few in your room.

Class Dojo Videos
Whether you use ClassDojo in the classroom or not as a classroom management tool, you NEED these videos in your life!  I have shown this particular set of videos for 3 years now and they help foster some amazing discussions!  Each video is just about 5 minutes long and I show them one per day after my students come in all hot and sweaty (ew) from recess.  It is the perfect length to allow them to cool down, calm down and get refocused.  The first few videos are titled "Your Brain is like a Muscle," "The Magic of Mistakes" and my favorite, "The incredible Power of Yet."  You can find this particular ClassDojo Growth Mindset video series here.  While we watch the video, I jot down a question or two for a short discussion.

Use discussion as a spring board
I find as many opportunities during the rest of the day to reinforce the question we discussed during all our lessons.  In the second video above, Mojo (the main character) learns about the "Magic of Mistakes."  After each video their is a discussion question.  After our initial discussion, I try to reinforce our thoughts throughout the day/week.  In this particular video the discussion at the end is that "mistakes make us stronger."  I try to model this as often as possible.  When I lose my Smartboard remote, I point it out and talk about how I should always put it in the "special spot" I have for my remote.  I make a point to talk about this outloud everytime I put my remote away and how when I lost it earlier, I learned from my mistakes.  When one of the students make a mistake (and they personally make it audible or visible to the class) I try to ask them what they learned from their mistake.  If they can't think of anything, I pose the question to the class.  I usually get responses like, "Now, we know the answer isn't __." or "Next time we will go back and check before ...."  Although I would never point out someone's mistake purposely, I have plenty of opportunity because my students tend to blurt out when they make a mistake.

Use past experiences
One of the discussions we always have is one of past experiences at home and school.  We talk about how when they were a toddler, they didn't know all their ABCs and how to read, but now they do! This helps them understand that our minds can grow.  Another experience that most have had is bike riding.  We talk about how they grow from tricycles, to training wheels, to no training wheels but falling a lot, and then finally riding on their own.  This helps them see that learning is a process.  Sometimes it takes many steps and sometimes many failures before you can succeed.

I simply love this video of this squirrel faced with a challenge to remind my students it will take several tries and attempts to learn something, and then we don't exactly master it the first time either!  What a great cool down video as they are coming back from recess. 

Change your "talk"
Discuss with your students how their "talk" can be positive or negative.  When we speak to ourselves with a positive attitude, we are more likely to be able to tackle harder tasks.  I love this anchor chart from Janna Finch on Twitter.

The Power of Yet
We can also take our negative talk and turn it into  something positive with "The Power of Yet."  When I catch my students saying a negative statement, "I don't know how to do this." I add YET! at the end and repeat it, "I don't know how to do this YET!"  It doesn't take long for my students to catch on and start adding YET to each others' sentences.  It's a lovely thing!  We are now changing our talk and turning a positive into a negative.  I love having this Growth Mindset bulletin board display up in my classroom for my students to be reminded daily, and it is also an easy reference for me now because rather than saying anything outloud, I can just point.  (Saving my teacher voice!  Woor woot!)  One teacher said, "I love this and I am surprised at how often my kiddos refer back to it!  Fantastic!"  

Use data as proof 
You can use any lesson (spelling, reading rate, even a writing sample) as the proof that your students can have a growth mindset.  I like using math facts as my proof just due to the fact that it is quick and easy proof.  I test my students on their multiplication facts the first week of school.  I of course do not take a grade and they actually check the paper themselves.  This information is for them.  They get very upset thinking that they "don't know" all the answers and that they are going to fail 3rd grade, but I have them paste it into their own data binders and have them keep their work sample.  This helps them understand that the information is for them and not me!  After we begin practicing some of their multiplication facts, we test our knowledge again in a few weeks.  I don't test them often throughout the year, but I do test them at least 5 times during the year so they can see their progress.

Seeing themselves as learners that can grow is the whole point of this data.  It isn't for me (although I do love seeing what they have accomplished).  After each testing session, I have them go back to their previous tests to compare.  Then we discuss how our minds have grown and how we may not know all the answers YET, but someday we will.  The students see how they didn't know many of the answers (YET) at the beginning of the year, but now they are learning more and more.

The Growth Mindset Power of Yet bulletin board display is available on TpT.


  1. I have just had a student leave the school, out of my class (a geography thing, not dissatisfaction), who was quite open about her stance on growth mindset: "Nope, I don't care about getting smarter. This is too hard, so I just can't do it." When I reminded her about previous experiences where she had persevered and succeeded she would say, "Yeah, but I don't care about that this time." In the end I had to let her know I was not going to allow her to take that attitude, and I was going to require her to have a go. Teaching is a tough gig some days!

    1. It absolutely is a tough job Tracy! What an amazing teacher you are though. You NEVER gave up on her. You never know what impact that may have in her future!

  2. I like the tips which you have given to the teacher about the perfect way of teaching in a good and friendly atmosphere.I will be following it in my class too.

  3. I am a third grade teacher, and I'm always trying to find new ways to promote and teach growth mindset in my classroom. I love the Class Dojo videos you mention - I had not know about these resources before.
    I also really liked your ideas about using past experiences and changing your talk. I have found that we, as teachers, can be such powerful models for our students with the language we use, and I love finding those "teachable moments" when I make a mistake on something and can use the opportunity to show my students that we are all still learning and growing!

    Thanks for the great ideas!

    1. Thanks so much! I am so thrilled this was helpful to you! Have a wonderful upcoming school year.