Several years ago, the principal at the school I was teaching at gave all of the teachers Carol Dweck's Mindset:The New Psychology of Success. I promptly purchased it on my Kindle as that's my preferred way to read and began reading. I couldn't believe how quickly I was engrossed in this book and honestly, I usually read fiction as an escape. I would read chapters and tell my husband about what I read amazed in the research and how changing your mindset could truly change your life.
While I've always been a fairly positive person, this book struck a chord with me because of the students I was working with at the time. My students were low income, many were English Language Learners and they were very transient, often changing schools several times in their elementary careers. Very few of these students came in with a positive mindset. My upbringing was so different from these students I struggled with how to get them to believe that they actually could do the things I believe they could. This is how Mindset changed me as a teacher.
Mindset helped me realize with just a few modifications in my language, I could push my students to new level. Instead of hearing, "I can't", I started to hear "I can't yet." This was the same year in which I had a student (let's call him Kevin) that was retained. Kevin struggled the year before to fit in as he was very small for his age, immature and academically wasn't where he needed to be but I think the deciding factor for the team was that he just seemed sad about not being part of the group. The students in my class realized, however, he was an incredible math teacher. Whenever they needed help with math and I wasn't available, they'd go to him. My shining moment with Kevin was when I overheard him telling another student who was struggling with a math problem that 'mistakes are proof that you're learning.' I felt like I'd won that day. I stopped what I was doing and made Kevin repeat it for the class. And of course when put on the spot, he couldn't remember what he'd said but I sure did. When I asked the student who he was working with how it made him feel, this student said it made him feel like it was okay to make mistakes. This evolved in to a whole discussion about making mistakes and how you don't learn without making mistakes.
I think it's rare for parents to actually have those discussions with their kids and it wasn't until I read Mindset that I actually thought about it. When I initially read Mindset, my oldest son was only 1. Now I have two boys (ages 5 and 2) and I refer back to the book occasionally because I want to ensure that my sons both have a growth mindset as well. I've referred back it to personally because this school year has been a major transition for me and it hasn't been easy. And while I don't like to admit it, at times I've become quite negative and drifted away from my positive self. So re-reading Mindset is my way to get back to me.
For more resources on Mindset check out my Pinterest Board here.