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Helping Kids Develop A Growth Mindset

This week in my newsletter I asked a dear friend and colleague to give her insight as a mom and veteran educator on helping kids develop a growth mindset. I hope you enjoy her candor and wise guidance.

I am a veteran teacher of 17 years, I have taught homerooms 4th through 8th grade, physical education in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade, as well as being a part of the school resource team. This variety in my professional life has allowed me to better understand the importance of a growth mindset. Motherhood has also been a very impactful experience in my life that has contributed to my dedication to helping others develop a growth mindset. I have three kiddos; two boys and one girl. My sons are ages 13 and 10, and my daughter is 6 years old. I have learned more from these three than anyone or anything in my life and they have had an immense impact on my professional development.


    The thing I love most about teaching and motherhood is the ability to build close personal relationships. Building close relationships allows me to help my students and children build confidence in themselves and others which then makes it easier for them to develop a growth mindset. Some strategies I use for each characteristic include:

Accept mistakes as opportunities for improvement

I utilize classroom circles to get to know my students better and to help them get to know me. After our circle discussions, I have students write in their journals, reflecting on ways they can continue to improve their strengths and problem-solve their weaknesses. 

Recognize setbacks as part of the learning process

The learning process can be tricky, and encountering setbacks can make it even more difficult. It is important that our kids know they will encounter setbacks throughout their lives. I try to let them know that it is important to go through hard times so they are better prepared for the next hard time. Each setback they encounter is an opportunity for them to grow stronger. Communicating this with both parents and students alike is a key component to getting families through setbacks. 

See intelligence as something to be developed.

This may be one of the most difficult characteristics to develop in a middle school student. They are all about getting the assignment done and getting the “right” answer. Providing learning opportunities that challenge students will help them go through the development of the learning process. Accomplishing higher level thinking tasks will build the confidence our students need to be able to see that they are far more capable of learning and growing than they realize.

Embrace challenges

As a teacher and a mom, I like to work with children to own their mistakes and to learn from them. Talk with kids and help them understand we can become better by experiencing difficult situations, reflect on what we could have done differently, and help point out what is good about themselves or the situation. We can not let ourselves get bogged down by the negative … always help them find the GOOD!

Be open to feedback.

In my English Language Arts classroom, we practice being open to feedback A LOT! We are constantly looking for ways to improve our writing or communication. We use peer editing to provide opportunities for the students to give one another feedback. Hearing how others would change your work can be difficult, but so important. We are at our best when we share ideas and learn from one another. 

     Developing a growth mindset is a life-long process. I am still working on it in my 43rd year of life. I truly believe the most important component of helping others develop a growth mindset is by developing a strong, personal connection with them. This is created by getting to know one another, taking an interest in what he/she is interested in, and being a good listener. I try to show my students and families that I care about each of them by making positive quarterly contact with parents. Pointing out what a child is doing well makes it a lot easier to help them handle setbacks. Personal connection helps build confidence in one’s ability to handle growth, challenges, and successes with grace. Everyone wins when we “FIND THE GOOD” in one another. 

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