A growth mindset is the belief that one can develop abilities through hard work, effective strategies, and guidance from others. It opposes a fixed mindset, which is the belief that abilities are innate traits that can never be altered or improved. "Research has shown (and continues to show) that a growth mindset can have a profound effect on students' motivation, enabling them to focus on learning, persist more, learn more, and do better in school" (Dweck 2016).
However, fostering a growth mindset in your classroom is much more than simply telling students to work harder. Although hard work and perseverance help to exercise the brain as a muscle, students must engage in meaningful work with formative feedback. Teachers can guide students through reflection, give advice on future learning strategies, and provide opportunities to revise work to demonstrate learning.
We frequently hear students (and even teachers) make comments such as "I'm not good at math" or "I'm just not a math person." Interestingly enough, we rarely hear adults say "I'm not good at reading" or "I'm just not someone who reads." Math, like reading, is a basic life skill that we use on a daily basis in almost everything we do.
According to growth mindset, no one is simply "bad at math." Just as you learned to read, ride a bicycle, or have a conversation, you can also learn to solve equations and apply mathematical concepts.
In an effort to support student growth mindset in math classrooms, Amazon Education has teamed up with Common Sense Education, Edutopia, Teaching Channel, Stanford University's PERTS (Project for Educational Research That Scales), and others to develop and share meaningful resources for teachers to access anywhere.
WithMathICan.org is a movement dedicated to transforming students' math mindsets. Meaningful work and formative feedback are strategies that teachers can use universally, regardless of grade level, to support student growth. By signing the pledge with your class and accessing the free open resources from WithMathICan.org, you can take a stand to help all students grow and achieve in math:
Created by Stanford University's PERTS, the Mindset Kit is a free set of online lessons and practices designed to help teachers share and foster adaptive learning mindsets. Download the Mindset Kit and get started transforming your students' mindsets by your next class.
Lesson Plans from Common Sense Education are innovative, tech-rich lesson plans submitted by teachers that combine great digital tools with inspiring teaching practices. Take a look at these helpful Lesson Plans to spark growth mindset across subject areas and grade levels. You can easily use or adapt them to meet the needs of your unique group of students.
We also encourage you to submit your own Lesson Plans on Common Sense Education to share with other educators! Check out how you can get your Lesson Plan reviewed by growth mindset expert Jo Boaler.
From videos of experienced teachers to student-facing videos, WithMathICan.org offers a range of visual explanations and demonstrations of growth mindset. You don't need to step outside of your classroom to virtually observe another teacher or hear his or her reflections. To get started, you can also easily and effectively introduce the concept of growth mindset to students with this animated video from ClassDojo.
Join the Conversation
As a classroom teacher, it can be challenging to find time to meet with other educators to share resources and strategies. The good news is, there's a community of teachers right at your fingertips! Join us every Thursday from 4:30–5:00 p.m. PST on Twitter for a #MathMindset chat to discuss actionable ideas around math and growth mindset. Jo Boaler, author of Mathematical Mindsets, will be moderating the chat on Thursday, February 18.
In addition to the Twitter Chat, WithMathICan.org will host a live webinar interview with Common Sense Education and Stanford University's PERTS on Tuesday, February 9 from 4:00–4:45 p.m. PST to share growth mindset strategies for your classroom. Get your questions answered live following the webinar!