How to Utilize the “Growth Mindset” to Get Better Grades, Become a Better Teacher, and Efficiently Criticize

Hey everyone,

I don’t know if you all have heard of the phenomenon of the “Growth Mindset” by Carol Dweck,  but it’s basically a how-to in changing your words and mentality to become more successful in life. I plan to use this “Growth Mindset” approach in my tutoring and self-criticism. 

Before you decide this is a crunchy-hippie-doesn’t-actually-work-thing, check out the actual research done in order to prove it works:

  1. Here’s one of the academic journals: A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality.
  2. A recently published book by her on the topic: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success )

The opposite of the growth mindset is the fixed mindset which believes you are born with a certain amount of smartness. People with the fixed mindset are less likely to take challenges and runs away in the face of effort. Here’s a comparison chart: difference

I’m going to cut to the chase with my own ideas of how to implement this genius technique into your lives:


When you are Self-Criticizing (especially in school work): 

  1. Do not think that just because you are struggling in classes and have to work harder than others that makes you generally stupid or less intelligent than anybody else.
  2. Believe you can succeed! Do not just give up.
  3. Failure is okay- just make sure you stand up after you fall. 
  4. It is totally okay to get help, and that does not make you less intelligent. If anything, it makes you more intelligent than sitting around not understanding something. 

Fun thing to do: Make a reminder poster with how to change your thoughts! 


 

When you are Tutoring or Teaching:  

  • Rephrase what you want to say, for example, instead of saying “You made a mistake” try saying “You haven’t grasped this concept yet. Let me explain this another way.” Because this lets the student know that they aren’t a failure- they made a mistake, but it’s not as final as they believe it to be- they just don’t understand YET, rather than not at all.

Some more examples are:

  1. Instead of, “You are so smart!” say, “You are working very hard- I can tell!” It inspires the student to keep doing well instead of excepting that they have reached their goal and can stop now.
  2. Instead of saying, “You always get good grades; that makes me happy.” Say, “When you put forth effort, your grades show it! You should be proud of yourself for working hard. I am proud of you!” The first phrase makes the student think that it’s just the grade itself that makes you happy, while the second phrase makes the student think that you appreciate their hard work and that’s what makes you happy, inspiring them to keep working hard.
  3. Instead of telling a student, “Yes, you got the answer correct, you are just so smart.” Say, “Wow, it looks like you have been studying! Good job!” This lets them know that they study for a reason, and they will be rewarded for it.

As a reminder to everyone, make a bulletin in your work-space or classroom! The chart below has some good examples to use.

Also, when you hear your students talking negatively about themselves, help them turn their mindset around!: developing growth mindset

 


 

When Critiquing: 

  1. Compliment their hard work, not their intelligence. (“Wow, this poster looks great! I bet you worked super hard on it!”)  So that if somebody doesn’t like it, they do not correlate that with them being stupid. 
  2. Don not name call, degrade, or attack the person because you do not like them or because you are mad at them.
  3. Instead of saying, “You made a mistake right here,” Try saying, “Hey, I think you overlooked this area- it is supposed to be __ in stead of ___.” This lets the person know that you are not trying to insult them, but rather show them the right way.

You can use the same basis of the tutoring or teaching style section, since they have the same goal. 

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