Is Growth Mindset on your mind like it is on mine? I have been hearing a lot about this term and was vaguely familiar with it; I sort of knew what it meant but didn’t grasp the deeper meaning of how to apply it to PBIS, if these two things were even similar. Well, it turns out they are very compatible and things that I have been telling my students over the past 20 years or so, have been Growth Mindsets. Acquiring new behavior and social skills can be a long learning process that is frustrating and sometimes exhausting.  As a behavior specialist, I would offer students second chances, re-dos and re-winds. This is the Growth Mindset. I sometimes think of myself more of a coach than a teacher. I cheer kids on to victorious changes of behavior and social learning.

Growth Mindset doesn’t focus on instruction in social skills, which is a new idea for me. Social skills instruction pretty much took the lead on everything I do in my classroom. Growth Mindset takes a larger world view. Instead of checking off new skills as they are learned (or not learned), Growth Mindset also focuses on the student’s heart and mind (Mindfulness, anyone?). This is a place where perseverance, grit and determination pay-off. Here is a list of differences for a Fixed Mindset and a Growth Mindset I realized through my research on the topic:

A fixed mindset believes that behaviors are never going to get better – you know what you know.

A growth mindset believes that behaviors aren’t yet where they need to be.

A fixed mindset believes that teachers don’t help students generalize new behavior skills; kids should be able to do that on their own.

A growth mindset believes that teachers are guides to help students as they acquire and generalize new behavior skills.

A fixed mindset asks students to complete the worksheet.

A growth mindset differentiates for students learning needs with a variety of acceptable assignments.

A fixed mindset tells students that things are not going to get any better.

A growth mindset tells students that things can get better but they might have to work hard.

A fixed mindset focuses on the goal and the outcome.

A growth mindset focuses on the process and the learning.

A fixed mindset says that only harsh school discipline will change behaviors.

A growth mindset says that behaviors are either skill (they don’t know how to do it) deficit or performance (they know how but they don’t do it) deficit that should be practiced repeatedly, and the student is given feedback and positive reinforcement.

A fixed mindset believes that pathways in the brain for certain behaviors are going to be their forever.

A growth mindset believes that hard work and determination creates new pathways in the brain.

A fixed mindset might sound like, “Good job!” when praising a student.

A growth mindset might sound like, “I like how you worked on the science lab today. I know it was hard but you kept with it and figured it out!”

A fixed mindset tells students that their social skills abilities are all they have and they will never change.

A growth mindset tells students that they have to persist even when things get difficult, but they will get better.

A fixed mindset says that if there isn’t improvement in 2 days it is never going to get better.

A growth mindset says baby steps are okay.

A fixed mindset assumes that students know the classroom expectations, no need to post them.

A growth mindset clearly and visibly states classroom expectations everyone knows what they are working on.

As you go through your day this week take time to reflect on your classroom – do you set an example for your students with a fixed or growth style of mindset. Add honestly to the list I have started. When you catch yourself with a fixed mindset in your classroom, think if  there could be another way of doing it or saying it? We are all growing and learning, and doing new things. It would be awesome if it were done with a growth mindset. Next on my to-do list is to read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

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