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Tips to enhance students’ growth mindset

We hope you picked up some valuable ideas from the previous discussion. In this article, Paul will share his ideas on how to enhance your students’ growth mindset.

In order to install or enhance your students’ growth mindsets, having growth mindsets yourself is a prerequisite! You have to be convinced of your and your students’ opportunities to learn and to improve their skills. When you are convinced of the possibilities for improvement, you will automatically talk to them in a ‘growth mindset manner’. In contrast, if you think of yourself and your students in more ‘fixed mindset ways’, your interventions that are aimed to increase growth mindset thinking, won’t be very effective, since your students will pick up your nonverbal fixed-mindset beliefs. Below you can find 10 ways to improve your growth mindset. I would suggest to read them and pick 2 or 3 suggestions to put into practice (not all of them, that wouldn’t be acceptable and realistic, don’t you think?).

  1. Try to think of something that you are now better at than you were in the past. What was it that you found difficult, but which has now become easier? How did you achieve this? Thinking about this will put you into a growth mindset.

  2. Ask someone if they can think of a way in which you have improved. Have other people noticed an improvement? If so, in what? Their feedback may give you interesting insight into your development and put you (and the other person) in a growth mindset.

  3. Try to think of something that you once saw someone do against all odds. How did that person manage it? What does that say about people’s ability to develop their capacities?
  4. Learn something new. Try a completely new activity, something that has nothing to do with what you’re already good at. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Try out a new sport, learn to play an instrument, take a philosophy course or just do some odd jobs around the house.

  5. Remember that the aim of learning is to learn. It doesn’t always have to be fun. Being happy or enjoying what you are learning is certainly an advantage, but it’s not a deal-breaker. There is nothing wrong with a little discomfort while you learn. Don’t be put off if you don’t always enjoy learning; it’s really not important.

  6. Learn to switch your mindset. When you burn the dinner for umpteenth time, it’s easy to think: ‘See? I’m a useless cook!’ At moments like this, you can make a conscious effort to switch your mindset: ‘Cooking is something you can learn, so I can learn it too. What shall I do differently next time?’ This allows you to practise a growth mindset when something relatively unimportant happens. In time, you will change your mindset automatically, making it easier to persevere when you fail in something that is important.

  7. Making a mistake is a valuable lesson in itself. Most people don’t like making mistakes, but seen as a valuable lesson, mistakes take on a different meaning. You are, after all, learning. And if learning is important to you, mistakes become valuable.

  8. Normalise your fixed mindset thoughts. There is always something we do not believe we could ever do. This is normal and doesn’t matter. Although practically anything can be learned, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we see it like that. Fixed mindset thoughts are part of the normal ups and downs of life, and left to their own devices, will pass.

  9. Practise in full awareness. Think carefully about what you want to practise, how you intend to do it and how you will ask for feedback on your progress. Practising consciously helps you to focus on the learning process itself and in time, you will get better.

  10. Read about growth mindsets or watch an interview or film about what happens in the brain when you learn.

Paul Koopman

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Becoming a Student Assistant: Teaching and Mentoring

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