The school year is in swing for most of the country, and it’s time to start the year strong! Growth mindset is not just a hot topic; it’s a way of teaching your students to embrace challenges and failure and keep going. It’s the attitude that even though things might get tough, believing that you can and working hard to achieve goals is all about mindset. Teach your students how to start the year with a growth mindset.
Model “I can” language.
One way you can start the year with a growth mindset is by encouraging your students to say “I can” when or after rather than “I can’t”. It’s possible that they may think they cannot pass an assessment or perform a skill at the moment, but by flipping the fixed mindset into “I can statements”, “I can’t do long division.” becomes “I can do long division after I ask questions and review the steps.” You can do the same thing by sharing your own struggles and mistakes and how you have overcome them. I often tell my students about my struggles when I was in elementary school with friendships and how I realized I could make friends by getting involved in school activities. I also shared my struggles with organizing my homework assignments and how setting up a system using a planner helped me know I could get everything done well!
Write down goals.
Growth mindset is great to talk about, but putting actionable goals in writing is important even for elementary students! These goals do not need to be public and hung on the wall. In fact, academic and behavior goals are often personal for students. Have them share them with you, their parents and guardians, and a friend (optional) if they would like to have someone to encourage them within the class. It doesn’t help just to tell your students to write their goal. Set your own goal and model how to write SMART goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
Visualize growth with a cactus!
I bet you didn’t expect this tip, did you? Elementary students are visual learners, and they like to make connections. Rather than just tell my students to set their own goals, I made a cactus unit out of growth mindset, goal setting, and reflection. Since cacti are amazingly resilient plants that symbolize strength, endurance, perseverance, I love using them in connection with growth mindset. Start the unit by reading about cacti, then have your each students plant their own cactus! Your students will love the science and writing connections they will make in this reflective goal setting unit.
Share with families.
Give your families advice on how to use growth mindset language at home. There’s nothing more powerful than common language to bridge the home-school connection. A quick newsletter or email talking about “I can” statements and asking parents and guardians to talk with their child about their goals will make such a difference.
It’s time for a new school year, and time to start the year with a growth mindset! Your students will be inspired to turn their failures in fears into opportunities for growth and goal-setting.