10 Tips for Fostering a Growth Mindset

10 Tips for Fostering a Growth Mindset


Here are some guidelines and conversation starters you can use in the classroom.

  1. Point to data that shows effort.
    “Ten minutes ago you were on #7, and now you are on #9. That’s because you made an effort.”
  2. Give feedback as information, and use it to develop options. Don’t judge.
    “I see you are still on the same page as when I was here before. Are you ready to try a different strategy?”
  3. Make sure student can start the task.
    “Tell me what your next move will be when I walk away. What experiments do you want to try?”
  4. Help identify short term tasks to get larger work done.
    “There are many steps to get this work done. Let’s agree on what you can do in the next 15 minutes when you put your mind to it.”
  5. Be curious about effort taken, whether right or wrong.
    “How did you get that 17 +  4 = 21? I also get 21. Oh, you got 22? How’d you get 22?”
  6. Reinforce that there are no time limits on getting smarter through effort.
    “You mean that you haven’t learned that yet.”
  7. Help them reflect on any effort they have put into the work.
    “So you think you’ll get a 75% on the test? Why not a 60%? What did you do to get to a 75%?”
  8. Identify skills and steps they have already demonstrated.
    “Walk me through what you have done so far.”
  9. Don’t work harder than the student.
    “Wait a minute! I’m doing all the writing here. You hold the pencil and write.”
  10. Don’t finish their sentences for them. Give them time to frame their own thoughts. Listen more than speak.

Download a PDF of this tip sheet: SDE-Tips-Growth-Mindset-Benson

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Jeffrey Benson is an internationally known author, and advocate for students, teachers, administrators, and families. With more than 40 years of experience in education, he has served as a teacher in elementary, middle, and high schools; as an instructor in undergraduate and graduate programs; and as an administrator in day and residential schools. He has studied and worked side by side with national leaders in the fields of special education, learning theory, math education, trauma and addiction, advisory programs, school reform, adult development, and conflict resolution. He has been a consultant to public and independent schools, and has mentored teachers and principals. He is the author of "Teaching the Whole Teen—Everyday Practices that Promote Success and Resilience in School and Life," "Hanging In: Strategies for Teaching the Students Who Challenge Us Most," and "10 Steps to Managing Change in Schools." The core of Jeffrey’s work is focused on understanding how people learn, which he feels is the starting point for everything that schools should do.