Growth Mindset

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Back to School Growth Mindset Activities

Back to School Growth Mindset Activities

Back to school growth mindset activities can help your students tremendously at the start of the year...and frankly, throughout the year. Back to school can be a difficult time for students, but growth mindset activities can build persistence and perseverance!

Look, there is a key difference in students who persist compared to students who give up. And that difference is in their mindset. Fixed mindset vs. growth mindset.

In this post, I will show you activities that will create a growth mindset in students.

What is a Growth Mindset and Why is it Important?

Growth mindset is the belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed through hard work and effort. When students have a growth mindset, they are more likely to persist in the face of challenges, take risks, and learn from their mistakes.

Develop growth mindset in your students with these activities and questions.

Growth Mindset Questions to Use Anytime

Growth mindset questions are a great way to help students reflect on their learning and develop a growth mindset. 

Focusing on Hard Work and Resilience

  • What did you do that made you think hard?
  • What are you trying hard at tomorrow?
  • What can you learn from this?
  • What different strategy will you try next?
  • What can you think about to keep you going when things are tough?
  • What is your most recent mistake?
  • What did you learn from that mistake?

Focused on Learning Goals and Effort

  • What is one thing I learned today?
  • How did I challenge myself today?
  • What did I do to improve my learning today?
  • What is one way I can improve my learning tomorrow?
  • What are my strengths as a learner?
  • What are areas where I can improve as a learner?

Growth Mindset for Back to School

Back to school requires a focus on teaching and re-teaching behavior expectations. In older grades, you have to teach class norms and routines...not so much behavior.

Either way, the prerequisite for a growth mindset in students are valuable relationships - the ability of the teacher to exhibit empathy.

For more on behavior, read The Ultimate Classroom Management Checklist.

Without empathy and relationships, many students will likely experience the following effects:

  • Feel disconnected
  • Misinterpret feedback with personal criticism
  • Generate beliefs of "I'm not smart enough" or "I'm just not good at __"

These effects are detrimental to a student's mindset and often results in a fixed mindset.

On the other hand, empathy allows a teacher to establish positive relationships with students that sends the message:

  • You have value regardless of your score.
  • You can learn, with enough effort and determination.
  • I am here to help you with this.

As the year moves on, you seek to motivate and encourage students through challenges and failures. If you are successful in educating the whole student, you can shape mindsets.

Check out this monthly activity handbook.

A growth mindset will help students to view themselves as learners, doers, and hard workers.

Back to school is the perfect time to initiate this mindset! You have students' attention and there's a sense of a fresh start.

I will share growth mindset activities in a moment, but first why is a growth mindset important to learning?

Check out the new Digital Goal-Setting Notebook for Google Classroom!

Growth Mindset and Learning

Mindset is so critical to student success. You mindset and my mindset will shape how we view challenges and whether we believe we can learn how to solve problems.

It’s commonly argued that brains and talent don’t bring success. Athletes and entrepreneurs often assert that it’s what we do with our knowledge. It’s the effort we put into developing talent that matters.

You know that as a teacher. Students who don’t do, don’t learn. How do you get students to do? That’s look at that next.

Mindset Shapes Action

It is our mindset that shapes what we do. How we think about our experiences, our opportunities, and our failures defines the actions we take.

A fixed mindset sees consequences as fate. A fixed mindset sees opportunities as destiny. A fixed mindset sees failure as proof of inferiority. A growth mindset is so different! It’s the opposite.

A fixed mindset wraps previous challenges and failures into a lump of conclusions. Those conclusions will deter effort. The student thinks, “Why should I try? I failed previously. I’m just not good at this.”

Mindset shapes action. But certain activities can shape mindset. #teaching #mindsetClick To Tweet

Growth Mindset Activity Bundle - Posters, Activities, Videos, and More!


Growth Mindset for Students

A growth mindset is the habit of thinking, “I can learn.” Carol Dweck could write a book about, but I think that’s a pretty straightforward definition. And she did write a great book, but here’s a great Monthly Teaching Guide.

Students with a strong growth mindset understand that failure is an inevitable part of life. A setback is viewed as a target for growth. It is not the proof of destiny.

They understand that learning is the key that allows me to overcome future failure. A student with a growth mindset will think:

  • “I need to learn this so I can…”
  • “I’m struggling with this step, what do I need to learn?”
  • “I need to put in some work tonight, so I can figure this out.”

Before you check out and say that’s a fairy tale, stay with me.

I’m going to show you how students benefit from a growth mindset and how you can use activities to help students develop a growth mindset.

How Growth Mindset Benefits Students

Students who are taught the messages just mentioned in the list above have the opportunity to think differently and those thoughts can lead to effort.

These same messages are heard by successful students often. It’s what successful students find in their parents, teachers, and mentors. There’s a constant messaging that you can – if you work for it.

It primes the brain for learning.

It’s not just self-esteem or cheer-leading. It’s more than that.

A growth mindset helps students because they need less praise and attention. They realize their effort determines their outcome. A growth mindset instills the belief that basic ability can improve through hard work and determination.

It is an empowering mindset that actually produces real results.

Growth mindset is the belief in hard work and determination. It is evident when student try repeatedly even in the face of mistakes and failure. #teaching #mindset

Click to Tweet

Growth Mindset Teaching Tips

  1. Be careful with praise. Praise can have hidden message that overlook the importance of the growing process. Think of affirming action more than praising attributes.
  2. Create growth imagery. Use visuals to represent pride and hard work.
  3. Smart is not learning. Use students that affirm effort and learning. Not just saying, “You’re so smart!”
  4. Ability is not learning. When telling students they have ability, some students hear, “If I have ability, why didn’t I get an A?” Instead affirm the skills that students have mastered and show the next steps needed to grow more.

Back to School Growth Mindset Activities

You can use many common classroom activities to help student develop a growth mindset:

  1. Goal-Setting tied to Learning (not just performance, grades)
  2. Tracking Progress
  3. Reflecting on how Effort Impacted Progress
  4. Celebrating Success on Learning Goals
  5. Celebrating Progress on Learning Goals

Those are really general activities, but here some specific teaching ideas for you:

  1. Read aloud Your Fantastic Elastic Brain.
  2. Read aloud The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes.
  3. Share a video like this one from TPT, and then have students create a t-chart contrasting a fixed mindset vs. a growth mindset.
  4. Ask “What did you do that made you think hard?”
  5. Ask “What are you trying hard at tomorrow?”
  6. Ask “What can you learn from this?”
  7. Ask “What different strategy will you try next?”
  8. Ask “What keeps you going when things are tough?”
  9. Ask “What is your most recent mistake?”
  10. Ask “What did you learn from that mistake?”
  11. Create back to school growth billboards like these.
  12. Hand your own growth mindset quotes such as these, and ask students to create their own sayings for their desks.

Growth Mindset Activity Bundle - Posters, Activities, Videos, and More!


Do You Use Growth Mindset Activities?

We have shared some growth mindset activities on TeachersPayTeachers that use videos, writing prompts, quotes, and close reads, but what do you use?

Do you have goal pages and data tracking for students? What do they say about these activities? Please let us know by commenting or sharing below!

About the Author

TeamTom Education is dedicated to creating engaging teaching resources and strategies that make learning awesome!

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