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How Can Teachers Cultivate a Growth Mindset in Their Students?

By tutorsvalley December 21st,2019

One day, two best friends met at their usual hangout place. They talked about everything under the sun, and the topic changed to one of their classmates at school. The so-called classmate excelled in singing, and the first friend admitted that in her case, she isn't a good singer. To this, the second friend replied that no one is a born singer, and one can acquire the skill through constant practice. With this conversation, it is evident that mindset sounds simple, but it is an intensely deep more than you think. The first friend is a perfect example of a fixed mindset and the latter an example of a growth mindset. 

Majority of the teachers might be aware of the fact that a student's attitude towards learning will be interpreted using the growth and fixed mindset. Many teachers are perplexed about how to apply growth mindset that is subtly distinct. It's not impossible, but you can achieve it. 

But you might be wondering what a fixed and growth mindset is. A fixed mindset is when you think that all your abilities and intellect as "fixed" and doesn't undergo any change. On the other hand, Growth mindset is a powerful tool of a person who thinks that with their own effort and time, they are capable of changing the abilities and intellect in them. 

Thanks to Carol Dweck, an American Psychologist who coined the term for the first time in the year 1970. With her experiments, she found out that students who had a growth mindset probably showed more progress than the students with a fixed mindset. The students attitude towards learning can be changed with the teaching strategy by teachers, i.e., it's possible that mindset can be taught. 

Carol Dweck opines that in the case of a fixed mindset, as mentioned earlier, the students think that their abilities and intellect are "fixed" that doesn't undergo any change. They strive to look wise every time. On the other hand, the students believe in themselves, and with their effort, they can develop their talent and become successful with the case of a growth mindset. Their attitude is such that they believe in working hard to achieve anything and never think that everyone is the same. 

Set a Growth Mindset into Practice.

In a major experiment conducted by maths tutor of Tutorsvalley, a set of students were given moderately-difficult maths problems. After completing the challenge, about half of the students were appreciated for the effort that they have put in and at the same time, the remaining ones were appreciated for their intelligence. The students were thereafter made to face a difficult challenge. Here the probability of both the groups was such that the first group were more likely to take the challenge while the second group had less probability of taking the challenge. 

As expected, the children with fixed mindset lost all the determination and became gloomy after each test while the children from the growth mindset with each problem, their eagerness increased with their confidence level as well. 

With each problem, the fixed mindset group failed to do any problem with rising difficulty and growth mindset students did better, making it worse for the fixed mindset students. 

With all these examples, it's evident that failure will be regarded as something that is bound to happen if success is associated with either the talent or intellect. Then, the student starts to ask themselves if they are really clever or talented. Everything lies in the mindset of the child and only if students realise that results are based on the effort we make, then they will be really motivated to put in the maximum effort that leads to magnified learning. Students will get the benefit by fostering a growth mindset, like improved academic performance and delighted learning. 

Incorporate Growth Mindset Language While Tutoring

 You could begin from the simple step of modifying the language you convey while providing feedback in tutoring so that their attitude towards learning will undergo a major change. Give more emphasis to the effort that the student has put in other than praising their ability and intellect.  As an example, say that "I'm glad that you have put in a lot of hard work for your exams" instead of saying that "you have the intellect to solve maths easily". This trick works well since students can thereafter realise the fact that success can be measured with the amount of effort rather than ability that makes you stand-out. 

Avoid Focus on External Markers of Success

Most of the students are bothered about their grades, and NOT the hard work that they have put in or improvement so far, which is the basis for marking. The first thing that many students would do after the results are announced is that they will find out whether they are passed or not. This is completely wrong, since one should be always aware of the strengths and weaknesses and should find out how to improve. 

If you focus on qualitative feedback, this will motivate students into thinking on how to improve their grades rather than focusing on whether they have passed or not, even though it’s necessary to know where in academics the student stands on the basis of their grades. 

Motivate Students Into Making Mistakes

The simplest way to identify a student with a growth mindset is to look whether they are seeking help. Those students consider academic difficulties and use it as a chance to progress and to know more, rather than seeing it as an obstacle. Be with your student and assure that you are there to help them out, slowly this will instil an urge to come over to you for help and will start to enjoy learning. 

If you are ready to accept mistakes, it's great for the learning process since it promotes original thinking and handling with chief ideas. If possible, try to nurture a tutoring atmosphere where the student won't be embarrassed if their answer is incorrect until they are ready to learn from mistakes. 

Growth Mindset

Make Them Face Challenges 

Carol Dweck opines that making a student aware of the importance of surpassing obstacle would promote a growth mindset. Dweck suggests about the effectiveness of tutoring on the importance of going beyond their comfort zone to comprehend tougher areas. You can see your intelligence getting better just because of the stronger establishment of connections among neurons. So, just leave behind your wrong way of thinking that hard effort and trouble are obstacles to your journey to be smarter. 

Studies prove that a group of students who underwent this type of learning improved their maths score tremendously. At the same time the students with a fixed mindset underwent a setback since their scores decreased. If you teach how to develop a growth mindset, then it will positively impact students. 

Seek Elaborate Answers From Students 

To a great extent, you can understand what the student grasped and what not, since it helps a student to brood over the content in their mind while they look for responses during elaboration.This proves the central aspect of the growth mindset- mastering a subject isn't an intrinsic thing, but something that you acquire with time. If you provide an opportunity for your students to express their thoughts, then it will be the first step to imprint their answers into the mind. 

While tutoring if you ask your students to elaborate on a particular subject matter, then they will realize the value of critical reflection with enhanced knowledge in the subject matter. 

Spend Much Time and Put in Hard Work

It needs great effort and time to attain your learning goals. A great tendency for people with a fixed mindset is that they evade from hard work thinking that they ain't smart and ultimately call it a day. On the contrary, a student with a growth mindset never give up, and they already knew that learning is challenging and remain focused by working harder and more intelligent. 

Provide a Chance to Face Hurdles

Life isn't a bed full of roses which is true in the case of a growth mindset. You might be of the opinion that the students need to achieve everything with some hard work. You make a mistake when you give simple assignments and appreciating them for non-praiseworthy matters that will turn out to be contrary to intuition to the goals you have in your mind.

Mastering a growth mindset means confronting challenges. Allot them not so simple assignments, homework etc, facing these obstacles make them enhance their growth mindset even though they know that " It's a difficult one, but I will try my best to complete it. "

Guide Them to Take on Constructive Criticism

Why we feel more attached to teachers who criticize you, both positively and negatively? It's because they criticize you in a friendly way, unlike teachers who shout at you and blow you away. For that purpose, children should understand what constructive criticism is and make it a device to progress. In order to accomplish this, first of all, they have to understand that the medium level of criticism is something great and obliging. But it's not as simple as you think to teach them this. Some children lack the viewpoint to undergo constructive criticism and are very sensitive to criticisms. But make sure to provide constructive criticism in a discreet manner. When you give constructive feedback, be sure that it is full of love and compassion; otherwise, it won't work out. Giving more prominence to precise moves a student should make to reach the goal should be done as well.  Allocate some time for tutoring the basic outline for what a constructive criticism is, its purpose and its reception. 

Growth Mindset

Consider Failure as a Milestone to Learning

Students have a tendency to imitate their tutors. Without your knowledge, they will notice your actions, your words, and your attitude towards failure. This will have an effect on their attitude too. Exhibit failure positively if you can. Try saying, "Only with hard work you can achieve it. Strive more " instead of "you don't use your brain". You can evaluate the measures that are necessary for tackling your goals and motivate them to begin again. 

Enjoy Success and Belittle Failure

To attract attention among children, reward them for their positivity if you can and apprehend and appreciate them. As you know, simple things matters. You can be all ears to them while talking to them, and if you can trace mannerism that portrays will power, sheer effort then never step back from praising them. It's your duty to lead them in the right path, when they commit a mistake, and urge them to learn from mistakes, and NOT just giving away a grade. Always be ready to teach them again and again, until they make it. This will give them a chance to taste success and make sure to provide another chance as well. 

It Takes Time to Acquire a Growth Mindset

You can see for yourself that most of the students won’t acquire a growth mindset quickly. It’s a slow process, and consumes a lot of time to develop and for maintaining it you need a remarkable focus. The growth mindset leads to excel. Before bringing in the principles for growth mindset into practice, you can think of the future as well. Never await for quick results and don't even look for it. Realize that the growth mindset is self-gifting. A growth mindset begins with instances like the student completed doing a problem or quickly comprehending a concept that they failed to study before. 

With all these techniques, you can smartly and quickly instill a growth mindset both in you and your learner as well. Remember that you will also get the benefit as well. Nothing outwits a growth mindset and effective for lasting teaching strategies that give out results that are positive. Through executing activities that could kindle skills inherent in them, they will be strong enough to face all the challenges in front of them. With this, the students get a much-needed boost in confidence, and you can create an atmosphere that greatly promotes the growth mindset. 

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