The concepts of growth mindset (developed by psychologist Carol Dweck) and grit (popularized by Angela Lee Duckworth) are powerful tools for our students. Starting as early as kindergarten, there’s immense value in teaching students about “the power of YET,” and helping them internalize the notion that resilience, hard work, and getting up after failures are the keys to success. The more we can expose students to these ideas, the more we can help them succeed in school and in life – even in the face of obstacles.
So how can we reinforce the concepts of growth mindset and grit in the classroom? It starts with the language we use. For instance, it’s better to use feedback like, “That was a challenging assignment. You worked hard and got it done. I really liked how you used all the strategies you learned.” That is preferable to saying, “That was a challenging assignment. You’re so smart; I knew you’d do well.”
In addition to what we say, there’s a lot we can do to create a visual environment that reminds students of these concepts daily. While the following ideas are great for individual classrooms, some can be used throughout the school: in hallway displays, the library, counseling offices, outdoor murals, quotes hanging in the gym, etc. The more we can reinforce these concepts school-wide, the better.
Follow our Growth Mindset and Student Goal Setting Board to see all of the images below in one place (as well as regular additions).
The classroom growth mindset ‘staple’ is a poster that compares a growth mindset to a fixed mindset. You can use a simple T-chart, or get more visual, like these examples. See them on Pinterest here: 1, 2, and 3.
2. Anchor Charts
Instead of (or in addition to) hanging a poster, consider co-creating an anchor chart with your students. See these examples on Pinterest here: 1, 2, and 3.
3. Motivational Quotes
Whether you choose to keep it simple and print quotes on 8.5 x 11 paper, OR go wild with a Cricut® and cute fonts, what matters most is the content. We love the quote below from Kid President, and there are even more great options in this list of 10 growth mindset quotes from famous people. Consider who are the celebrities your students admire. Can you find growth-focused quotes by them? We recommend displaying thoughts from a diverse group of current and historical icons (scientists, athletes, musicians, artists, and more). We’ve collected our favorites in a highlight on our Instagram account. Our most popular one to date is this truth bomb from Oprah.
4. Bulletin Boards
Looking to go big? Create a growth mindset bulletin board inside or outside your room. You can focus on the characteristics of a growth mindset, similar to what we shared with the posters and anchor charts, OR on how your students specifically are developing that mindset, OR get inspirational with a ‘Famous Failures’ board.
We first saw the “Famous Failures” idea from Laura Randazzo. What you see displayed are stories of failure; when you open up each ‘card,’ you find out who it’s about and learn about the success that followed (in spite of setbacks and obstacles). How motivating! You can make your own by reading her blog post, but this teacher also has this bulletin board pack on her Teachers Pay Teachers page.
And here are two other creative bulletin board concepts we noticed in a blog post from Lisa King. See them on Pinterest: 1 and 2.
5. Keep the Quote
Keep the Quote is a fun weekly goal-setting system developed by Brittney Briggs. On Mondays, students who want to participate bring in quotes for the class to use as a motto for the week. The group votes on their favorite. She says, “The student who brought in the winning quote explains what that quote means to them, and we discuss how students could earn that particular quote… I write the quote on paper during my prep or after school on Monday. On Friday, we review our success following the quote and select one student to actually KEEP THE QUOTE… I have the student who brought in the quote select the recipient (I help them with this at first). The student has to go up on our stage and explain the quote’s meaning once again and the reason that they are awarding the quote to the recipient.”
While this idea doesn’t necessarily have to be paired with growth mindset, it can work really well (as you can see with the sample quote below).
We hope you now have some inspiration for your own room or school! And remember: