Sunday, February 2, 2014

Mid-Year Student Reflection on Mindset

Since the beginning of the school year, I have been teaching students about the concept of mindset and the difference between having a growth mindset and fixed mindset.  Click here to read the post I wrote about introducing this important work to students in September.  Throughout the school year, we have been identifying characters, through read aloud and independent reading, who have a growth or fixed mindset and discussing why.  We have also role-played during morning meeting and/or closing circle what having a fixed mindset and growth mindset look like so students have a visual for the differences between the two.  Students use the language of mindset often in our classroom discussions and some students have even written literary essays about characters who have a growth mindset.  So they are transferring the concept of mindset into their daily language, their reading and writing, and while they are working on math challenges as well.

So this past week, I decided to have them reflect on their mindset and how it might have changed from the beginning of the school year.

I posted two questions on a chart titled, "Mindset Reflection" : 

  • Do you consider yourself to be a person with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Why? 
  • Has your mindset changed since the beginning of the school year? Why?  

Here are some of the students' answers to these reflective questions: 

"I think I have a growth mindset because I never give up and I also always try my best.  If I make a mistake, I will try to fix it and understand why I made that mistake.  This is why I think I have a growth mindset."

"I think I had a growth mindset at the beginning of the year and I still have one now, but I think now I look at things differently for the better.  I don't know how to explain, but I feel more positive like I am more self-confident.  I feel accomplished and proud of myself even though I have a ton more goals to reach."

"I think I have a growth mindset because I like challenges and I like taking risks.  This tells me that I like to never give up.  I set a goal to always try my best and be responsible and kind.  I always try to put 100% effort into my work at school and at my house." 

"I started having a growth mindset in the beginning of the school year because I started becoming a better reader.  I'm putting 100% effort into my essays now.  I'm being more respectful now then the beginning of the school year.  Now I have more of a positive attitude now then the beginning of the year." 

"I consider myself to have a growth mindset.  I think this because I don't give up on things or people.  I don't give up on things because my family doesn't give up and I want to carry that on.  I don't give up on people because people will bring you down, but I was taught to always have the strength to pick yourself up and tell myself, I don't deserve to be treated that way!"

Reading through all of the students' reflections, gave me clearer insights into how they perceive themselves as learners and how I can also help them continue to work toward having a growth mindset.  It also raised an important question in my mind: Are mindset and kindness connected?

As you can see from a few examples shared above, some students connected the concept of having a growth mindset to being kind and respectful.  This year, one of our school-wide objectives is to teach students how to be kind and use respectful language with one another.  I have not talked about how being kind is related to mindset, but obviously students are seeing the connection on their own and are bridging the two together in their minds.  I have thought long and hard about this over the weekend and I do see how they are connected and want to have this conversation with my whole class to create a chart on how they see mindset and kindness connected.

From reading their reflections, it seems that they believe if you have a growth mindset and know that everyone CAN do something with practice, then they won't be tempted to tease someone for not being able to do something well YET and will be kind.  Also if someone has a growth mindset and likes to take risks as a learner, they are more apt to cheer their classmates on and try to boost their confidence in themselves which is being kind.  They are also more likely to stand up for classmates who may be receiving negative comments from classmates.  This is just what I have brainstormed myself after reading how some students connected mindset to kindness in their reflections.  I am eager to have this conversation with my whole class on Monday so stay tuned to hear more!

Enjoy the weekend!


  1. Last year was the first time I heard about the book "Mindset" . I am so impressed that you are teaching your students about their own mindset and how one can change it. I now work with teachers in a coaching position and the work to change their mindset about students is challenging. Thanks for sharing your work! Your students are lucky to have you as their teacher.

    1. Thank you!! It is powerful and important learning for both students and teachers! If you click on the "Mindset" label on the right hand column of blog, you can read the other posts I have written about mindset and professional book titles I have read in addition to Mindset by Carol Dweck.

  2. Great idea --love the reflections. Can't wait to hear how it goes!
    Clare and Tammy

  3. I'm a school counselor and am hoping to infuse some of the ideas regarding mindset into my lessons this year with my "big kids". I would really love to hear more about the activities you do during morning meeting with this. If you have a few minutes before summer ends, please shoot me an email. cottrill dot sara at gmail dot com