Sunday, September 3, 2017

Happy Growth Mindset Month!

It's officially September, and you know what that means! Boots, sweatshirts, and coffee for sure...but also, it's Growth Mindset Month here on Taxis, Tots and Polka Dots! And now that I have a classroom all to myself, I intend on taking full advantage of it.

See, I'm a firm believer in the concept, and I use it in just about every aspect of my job (and I try to use it in just about every aspect of my life). Unfortunately, though, very few other people reciprocate the same stress and importance on the concept in their own life. Not because they don't want to or don't see the value in it, but often because they haven't the slightest idea what it even is.

So what is growth mindset anyway?

Growth mindset is exactly what it sounds like: it's a shift in thinking (or a change in literal mindset) that affects the way your brain interprets negative stimuli. And negative stimuli comes from everywhere. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. The trick begins with focusing more on the process (of learning and discovering) rather than the product (of looking smart and showing off).

You probably know a few people who already embody this mentality. They're the friends who are looking at the bright side when you just want to vent. They're the ones encouraging you when you'd rather have someone to complain to. They're a refreshing batch to be around if you also have a growth mindset. They're an annoying batch to be around if you don't.

They're the ones always believing that their intelligence and talent can be taken to the next level. It's more than just motivation and positivity; they genuinely believe that hard work, constructive criticism, and careful strategies can empower them into innovation. And because of this, they are ultimately more successful.

The opposite of this forward-thinking group is the clan of fixed-minded individuals. They are focused on what they can do and what they can't do, but never on what could change what they can't do or what would make what they can do even better. This leads them to become deceptive cheaters in school and in the workplace because they are more focused on having the advantage and title than they are on improving themselves. They'd rather be seen as the most successful than the most improved, when the truth is that the most improved are the most successful.

No one possesses a growth mindset by nature, nor do they acquire it without actively working towards it individually and surrounding themselves with growth-minded people. It's not a character trait like flexibility or open mindedness or positivity. If you have a growth mindset now, you have not always had one, and it is wrong to assume you always will have one if you don't make an active effort to keep it.

And for my teachers out there, it's actually not all about behavior. It's hardly about behavior at all. Possessing a growth mindset does not mean someone is a kiss-up or a teacher's pet. In fact, it's quite the opposite. If you have a growth mindset, you are not working for the approval and validation of other people. Instead, you are working for the improvement and fulfillment from within yourself.

Growth mindset doesn't make you perfect. It doesn't make you smarter, or more talented, or more successful. But what it does do is give you a solid foundation of intrinsic motivation and confidence in yourself, and those two things (paired with hard work and persistence) make you smarter, and more talented, and more successful.

It seems impossible to fully attain. And to be fair, it is. A purely perfect growth mindset doesn't exist. We are all some combination of growth and fixed mindset (because we are only human), though most of us lean more of one way than the other. And most educators who harp on growth mindset in their classrooms (like me) are dedicated to ensuring that the majority of our next generation grows up leaning more towards the growth mindset.

So stay tuned during September because we'll be touching on a new aspect of this important month each week. Introducing your students / young children to growth mindset may be the absolute best thing you can do for them, because if you can make them love the learning and improvement process, it's hard to stand in their way when they do much of anything else. And if we can equip a stronger, more confident, more dedicated next generation, then we have done our job.

1 comment:

  1. This is actually a great motivation. As most people are also starting colleges, this can be motivating for us to start working hard for the future. Thanks a lot!