Growth Mindset in the Classroom

Learning Landscape Thursday, 28 Jan 2021

Why the first weeks of school are so important

One of the most important times of the school year is the first few weeks. This is sometimes a turbulent yet exciting time, filled with anticipation, nervous energy and the thrill of stepping into the ‘unknown’ and out of our comfort zone. For students walking into their new classroom, it can be an exciting or sometimes daunting experience, but we need to recognise that these feelings are important and are developmentally essential building blocks towards our children becoming more independent and resilient people.

The first few weeks (before things become ‘comfortable’) are important as they essentially give students the opportunity to ‘dip their toes’ into uncertainty and change, still within the overarching comfort of a familiar place. It gives students the chance to learn to manage change in bite-sized chunks which will help in other aspects of their future lives.

Building a Growth Mindset

These first few weeks also are an important time for establishing a classroom culture and for setting the tone for learning for the year ahead. As such we place a priority on teaching students about a ‘Growth Mindset’ during this key time.

A Growth Mindset stems from the research of Carol Dweck and is essentially the idea that anyone can learn and improve with effort and perseverance. A growth mindset is an important skill for developing lifelong learners who are inquisitive and see setbacks and mistakes as learning opportunities. Students who show a growth mindset are more likely to engage with tasks, keep trying even when things are difficult and have more confidence in their own abilities. Growth Mindset Week is an important springboard for setting up this thinking and helping to build a culture where students are willing to try new things and develop resilience. You can read more by following this link.

Growth Mindset Week

At Living Faith, we recognise the value the first few weeks of school have in shaping the mindsets of our students as they begin to find their place within a new year level. In the very first week, we set aside time to undertake ‘Growth Mindset Week’, where students learn about the way in which their brain learns and makes connections and how to shift their mindset so they are ready and excited about undertaking challenges and making mistakes. This week is also a chance for students to get used to their new classroom environments, build rapport with their teachers and develop the classroom culture. Staff place priority on nurturing both positive classroom environments and positive mindsets because without either, teaching the curriculum is an uphill battle. We set aside this week to focus on building this culture and mindset so that moving forward students and teachers are in a better place to learn and grow together. Developing a growth mindset in our students is a priority at Living Faith.

How can you help reinforce a growth mindset? ...The Power of YET

One of the key principles we instil when exploring a growth mindset is ‘the power of yet’. We explicitly teach students about how our mindset towards a task can significantly affect the outcome. All minds can learn, it is about finding the best way that individual minds learn through making connections and lighting up new neural pathways. We teach students to add ‘yet’ to all their negative comments about their learning. “I don't understand this” becomes “I don't understand this ...YET”.

‘I’m not good at this...YET’

‘This doesn’t work...YET’

‘I can’t do this...YET’

‘This doesn’t make sense...YET’

The power of YET reinforces that the mind is made to learn and it is through struggle and challenge that we actually build stronger and more lasting neural connections. To help us reinforce a growth mindset in your children we encourage you to use the power of ‘YET’ in your conversations with your children.

- Bianca Ravi, Director of Learning